Despite First Bank’s Forex reserves falling to $26.919 billion last Thursday, The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) still sold a total of $136,038,458.17 to 13 commercial banks, the Bank of Industry and 3 merchant banks between March 3 and March 6 of this year.
This information was uncovered as returns of Forex utilization published by various financial institutions showed that FirstBank of Nigeria Limited came out the breadwinner, with a total $16,809,785 allocation. FirstBank’s forex returns showed that in addition to selling US denomination to 713 customers last week, Dangote Cement Plc also purchased $5 million from the bank.
Stanbic IBTC was allotted a sum of $14,754,332.91, placing the institution second in monies garnered. Of this amount, just over $9 million was purchased by foreign investors on their way out of the equities, bonds and money markets.
Like FirstBank, Stanbic IBTC reportedly sold to Dangote Cement Plc as well, at the rate of $1,816,470 purchased from the bank. Stanbicalso sold dollars to 121 customers during this time.
Standard Chartered Bank followed Stanbic closely, having been given $14,350,737.12. Standard Chartered’s biggest client was also AlikoDangote, having sold to their Dangote sugar refinery, along with 162 customers who purchased US dollars.
Zenith Bank came in fourth, having been allocated $13,594,769.12 from the central bank. Zenith sold US denomination to a total of 400 customers and just over $2.5 million to the Dangote Construction Group.
UBA came in at $12,260,897.70 allotted. Its customers included NFE Industry Limited, with a purchase of $1.454 million, IATA with $1.5 million, Matrix Energy Limited and Inview Technology Limited both purchased $1 million from the bank.
Diamond Bank Plc was allotted $10.84 million from the Central Ban. They in turn sold to 238 customers.
Rounding out the bottom was GTB ( just over $9 million allotted), Access Bank ( just over $8.9 million allotted), and First City Monument Bank (FCMB) with just over $7.225 million allotted.
While the overall Forex took a hit as of January 2016, the numbers are still showing signs of improvement among banks. The main culprit of the depreciation is said to be due to the settlement of large swap positions between the banks and the CBN.
“The estimated swap position alone would take Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves down from the present $29 billion to $24 billion. As at nine months 2015, some of the banks within our coverage reported gains from derivative instruments, which in our view are mostly swap contracts.
“With the income from the swap deals expected to phase out through 2016, we believe the loss of swap income in 2017 will also negatively impact banks’ performance,” CSL Stockbrokers Limited said in a report recently.