29 March 2013, Lagos – A UNITED States based firm, Nationwide Group together with ten Nigerian banks have provided a total of N57.68 billion ($600million) to assist local shipping firms , operators and marine construction firms in Nigeria to acquire vessels and equipment of various capacities in the last five years.
Disclosing this to Vanguard at the Nigerian Summit organised by the Economist News Magazine in Lagos, President, Nationwide Group, Mr. Ed Kostenski, said that the firm’s decision to come into a risky economic environment like Nigeria was beginning to pay off.
Statistical information made available to Vanguard showed that Access Bank provided guarantee and syndicated the highest amount of N4.536billion for some of the projects funded by the banks.
Other banks involved in the mega vessels and equipment financing include: Wema Bank with a sum of N6.85billion; Zenith Bank committed a total of N7.277billion into some of the executed projects, while Keystone Bank committed N178.83million.
Skye Bank, Diamond Bank and defunct Bank PHD committed N8.309billion, N7.277billion, and N1.272billion respectively to the projects, while Stanbic IBTC Bank guaranteed a loan of N417.8million.
Two foreign banks namely Amalgamated Bank of Angola and Sahel-Sahara Bank of Ghana both guaranteed a total of $4.710million for the acquisition of those vessels and equipment by Nigerians.
Kostenski also said Nigerian banks have grown over the years, noting that it was almost impossible to take a bank guarantee to the United States or Europe to raise money. He stressed that with the positive economic indicators things were looking better.
He noted that financing projects in Nigeria has added strength to some of the businesses owned by Nigerians, noting that Nationwide Group has over the years handled many projects undertaken in Nigeria. He stressed that the greatest strength of the firm is the people that help them to run the operations in Nigeria.
He explained that at seven percent growth rate currently being recorded by the Nigeria, things can only get better with time as the situation will create more opportunities for investors to come in.
He further explained that the firm tries to make funds available for companies that want to acquire marine vessels tug boats, work boats, security boats, oil tankers crew boats and whatever they need to facilitate projects for the International Oil Companies (IOCs).
“We help them to finance some of the contracts if they are strong enough on the paper and they give us a reasonable assurance of repayment, then our group will take a risk and make financial plans for acquiring the marine vessels.
“If you are not a risk taker, you cannot do business in Nigeria, doing business in Nigeria is not for the weak people. If you want to make progress here in this country, you have to take some risk.
So far we have not lost any money and that is because we investigate people, we check them to ensure that they are worth doing business with.
“We are a very important part of the Nigerian maritime industry because we are committed to both the industry and the nation where the issue of project financing is concerned,” Kostenski said.
*Godwin Oritse, Vanguard