Finland: Asset Bubble Tests Sends Nordea Chairman on House Hunt

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Read Time:6 Minute, 45 Second

The chairman of Scandinavia’s biggest bank is putting his money where his mouth is. Bjoern Wahlroos of Nordea Bank AB (NDA) says there’s no housing bubble in Sweden. So he bought a Stockholm apartment to prove it.

“I made a case study — I actually bought an apartment in Stockholm and it was much cheaper than a comparable apartment in Helsinki, so I cannot understand how this could be an overheated market,” Wahlroos, who also has a home in Helsinki, Finland’s capital, said in an interview.

Swedish apartment prices jumped 8 percent last year and have soared 38 percent since late 2007 to a record, according to Svensk Maeklarstatistik, which compiles monthly data on Swedish home prices. A 200 square-meter (2,150 square-foot) apartment in downtown Stockholm now costs $1.9 million, on average. That’s prompted some analysts such as Bengt Hansson at the National Housing Board to warn the market is in the grip of a bubble, saying property prices are now 20 percent overvalued.

As central banks in the euro zone, the U.S. and Japan respond to the global economic crisis by keeping interest rates at record lows, some of the world’s richest countries are struggling to contain overheating fanned by easy money.

Sweden’s central bank signaled last month it’s unlikely to ease policy further amid concerns it could boost credit growth, after cutting rates four times since December 2011. Instead, it plans to raise its benchmark repo rate, currently at 1 percent, in about a year, the bank said Feb. 13. An interest rate increase combined with higher unemployment may tip the housing market in the other direction, Jens Hallen, director for financial institutions at Fitch Ratings, said last month.

Falling Prices

Swedish home prices could fall by as much as 10 percent in the next 18 to 24 months, Hallen said. The government says it’s targeting gradual price gains in the housing market.

“The best thing for us all is if we get a slow increase of house prices in the long term,” the country’s Financial Markets Minister Peter Norman said in an interview this month. “Neither the housing market nor the economy as a whole feels good with constant, and very big, jumps in house prices.”

The average price for an apartment in central Stockholm stood at 61,878 kronor ($9,531) per square meter at the end of February, up more than 25 percent in the past four years, according to Maeklarstatistik, which tracks 70 percent of all Swedish property sales brokered through real estate firms.

Helsinki Averages

In Helsinki, where Wahlroos also has a home, the average price of three-room apartments in its most central neighborhood was 5,340 euros ($6,865) per square meter last year, 28 percent lower than in Stockholm, according to government data and Bloomberg calculations.

In central Oslo, prices are closer to those in the Swedish capital, at 52,600 Norwegian kroner ($9,028) per square meter, according to data from the Association of Real Estate Agents.

In London, the price of a “mainstream apartment” is $12,254 per square meter, while in Paris, it’s $7,281, according to Knight Frank data.

Sweden’s housing market “doesn’t seem overheated — period,” said Wahlroos, who earns 252,000 euros a year as board chairman of Nordea and is also chairman of Sampo Oyj (SAMAS), the Finnish owner of the Nordic region’s largest property and casualty insurance company If, and of Finnish papermaker UPM- Kymmene Oyj. He’s not only betting part of his personal wealth on that premise, he’s also telling Nordea’s more than 10 million customers that the Swedish market is safe.

The Stockholm-based bank’s mortgage portfolio amounted to 126.8 billion euros at the end of last year, of which Sweden accounted for 37.2 billion euros, making it Nordea’s biggest mortgage market in terms of volume.

No Signs

Nordea Chief Risk Officer Ari Kaperi agrees with Wahlroos. He told analysts and investors at a March 6 capital markets event in London that he sees “more or less no” major signs of concern in the Swedish, Norwegian or Finnish housing markets.

Some of Nordea’s competitors in Sweden are concerned about the level of household debt and its effect on home prices.

Swedbank AB, Sweden’s biggest mortgage lender, has deliberately been losing market share in an effort to protect itself from impairments, Chief Executive Officer Michael Wolf said on Dec. 4. The Swedish housing market probably faces “some sort of adjustment,” Wolf said, adding that he is “not concerned about a house bubble — I am more concerned about the debt level.”

Swedish households owe, on average, the equivalent of a record 173 percent of their disposable incomes to their banks, the Riksbank estimates. Governor Stefan Ingves has repeatedly warned that keeping interest rates too low for too long risks exacerbating risks in AAA-rated Sweden’s mortgage market.

Bloated Households

“Households’ balance sheets are bloated and a problem could arise if we end up with a significant fall of house prices,” Norman said. “I would really like to see household indebtedness falling a bit as a percentage of incomes.”

Danske Bank A/S (DANSKE), which has endured housing busts in both Denmark and in Ireland, said in a March 21 report that residential properties in Sweden are above their fundamental value by more than 20 percent and forecast a 5 percent annual drop in prices this year and a 2.5 percent decrease in 2014.

Borrowing has continued to grow even after the government introduced a cap in 2010 that limits loans to 85 percent of a property’s value, and still exceeds the 3 percent to 4 percent pace of growth that Finance Minister Anders Borg has said is healthy. The Financial Supervisory Authority said last month it’s ready to do more to stem credit growth.

Capital Requirements

Sweden’s biggest banks, including Nordea, already face some of the world’s strictest capital requirements, forcing them to set aside at least 10 percent core Tier 1 capital of their risk- weighted assets this year and 12 percent by 2015. The regulator last year also proposed tripling the risk-weights on mortgage assets to 15 percent, reflecting a higher probability of losses.

The loan-loss ratio at Sweden’s largest banks rose to 0.16 percent of all outstanding loans last year from 0.07 percent in 2011, according to a March 25 report from the Swedish FSA. Loan impairments (SWEDA) at the Swedish retail unit of Swedbank AB, the country’s biggest mortgage lender, jumped 48 percent in the fourth quarter from the third. At Nordea’s Swedish retail unit, net loan losses increased to 11 million euros last quarter, from 6 million euros in the three months through September.

While Wahlroos declined to say how much he paid for his new apartment in Stockholm or where it’s located, a majority of Swedes would say he’d made a good investment, according to a survey by SEB AB, Sweden’s fourth-largest bank.

SEB’s house-price indicator, which measures the gap between the number of households predicting rising prices and those who see a decline, jumped to 35 in March, the highest level since May 2011. Fifty-one percent of the respondents in the survey said they expect house prices to advance in the coming year, compared with 44 percent in February. Only 16 percent see prices falling, down from 20 percent last month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Niklas Magnusson in Stockholm at nmagnusson1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tasneem Brogger at tbrogger@bloomberg.net; Rob Urban at robprag@bloomberg.net.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: Bonny Gas finalises deal for N254bn vessels’ acquisition

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Read Time:1 Minute, 42 Second

Bonny Gas Transport, BGT, a subsidiary of Nigeria LNG Limited, NLNG, yesterday, finalised the deal for the acquisition of six new vessels valued at N254.4 billion ($1.6 billion).

According to a statement by the company, signed by Kudo Eresia-Eke, Acting General Manager, External Relations, the deal which was finalised in London, will see the company acquiring four vessels from Samsung and two from Hyundai, two Korean companies.

Eresia-Eke said the six vessels will have a combined capacity of 1.053 million cubic meters and are expected to increase BGT’s overall shipping capacity by 17 per cent.

Eresia-Eke stated that the tankers will be delivered over a period of nine months from October 2015 to June 2016.

Continuing, Eresia-Eke disclosed that the new ships which will replace BGT’s six oldest vessels were ordered through retained earnings from BGT, additional borrowings from an existing facility and new vessels debt provided by a combination of Korean Export Credit Agencies, international, regional and local commercial banks.

Eresia-Eke added that, “This particular deal entails BGT supporting more development of Nigerian Content through utilization of Nigerian manpower, services and materials in all elements of the value chain in support of Nigeria LNG’s commitment to increased local productivity.

“This is in advancement of government’s aspiration to increase the country’s participation in the maintenance and repair of large ocean going vessels.

“BGT, a subsidiary of Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) was established in 1989, to provide shipping capacity for NLNG projects. It directly owns 13 of the 24 vessels which deliver liquefied natural gas for Nigeria LNG to customers across the world. The remaining 11 vessels are owned via long term leases.

“NLNG is a Nigerian Joint Venture company whose shareholders are the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (49 per cent), Shell Gas B.V. (25.6 per cent ), Total LNG Nigeria Limited (15 per cent) and Eni international n.a.n.v. (10.4 per cent).”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Lagos economy rated above Ghana, UK – Fashola

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Read Time:2 Minute, 11 Second

Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola has said the economy of the state is rated above Ghana and the United Kingdom. He also said his administration is currently executing about 1,966 projects across the state.

He said the projects would boost government’s plan to transform the state and turn it into “Africa’s modern” mega city.

The governor said this on Tuesday during the inspection of ongoing projects in Lekki and Victoria Island in Lagos.

Fashola said, ”Currently we are executing about 1,966 projects across the state. The projects we have visited really are the ones that have problems. We have been going round to see what the problems are instead of just reading reports.

“Now we are having a feel of the challenges and see whose ministry is responsible and what we can do to ensure that the ministries and contractors are communicating. These inspections are to ensure that we get many of those projects completed.”

Fashola insisted that on completion, the projects would further endear the Action Congress of Nigeria to the electorate.

He said the party would beat the opposition with a wide margin during the 2015 general elections in the state.

He assured the residents that the Ikoyi-Lekki Link Bridge would soon be inaugurated, saying the bridge required finishing work and toll plaza.

The governor, who also flayed the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku’s assertion that the ongoing national good governance tour was muted at the Governors’ Forum, said it did not mean all the governors supported the initiative.

He said, “The question I asked then was of what purpose is the tour? Do the people of Nigeria need a tour to know that they are being well governed? What is the tour supposed to achieve? Are they resolving problems at project sites? Where are their projects? What is the value of tour when you can’t implement a budget? I can go on tour of projects because my budget performed 89 per cent last year.

“I am not on a good governance tour. I am on a project inspection tour trying to solve problems at project sites.”

Fashola argued that the yardstick for measuring good governance could only be done by those who know, adding that the economy of Lagos is now rated ahead of Ghana and the United Kingdom.

The governor said, “Currently, the Lagos State economy is being upgraded from stable to positive, that’s good governance, you don’t need any campaign to do that.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: Lagos reopens Ladipo Market

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Read Time:58 Second

Two weeks after the popular Ladipo Auto Spare Parts Market in Mushin local government was shut over violation of environmental laws, the Lagos state government, Monday, ordered the re-opening of the market for normal operations with conditions.

The reopening was announced by the Ministry of Environment after a  meeting was held with the Traders’ Association  in which the following conditions were given: Non-conversion of the drainage Right of Way (RoW) into trading points and mechanic workshops;  Non-conversion of the access roads in the market for trading activities, non-conversion of the shops in the market for residential purposes, no dumping of wastes and vehicle parts into the canal, maintaining the general cleanliness of the market environment at all times and Ladipo Central Executive Committee, LACEC, shall be empowered to ensure same.
Governor Babatunde Fashola, in company of his Imo State counterpart, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, last Thursday visited the closed market with Okoroacha appealing on behalf of the traders for a reopening of the market.

Fashola had insisted that the market would be re-opened once the environmental pollution problem was addressed by the market leaders.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: Airtel unveils data plan for BlackBerry 10

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Read Time:1 Minute, 8 Second

Shortly after becoming the first operator to sell the flagship BlackBerry 10 in its shops nation-wide, leading telecommunications service provider, Airtel Nigeria has unveiled special data bundled packages exclusively for the top notch smartphone device.

The Airtel’s BlackBerry10 (BB10) Data Plan which features three different bundles: BB10 Max, BB10 Mid and BB10 Lite, is currently the best package in the country as customers get up to 1.5GB, offering more bytes than any other in the market.

The Airtel BB10 plan is available to both prepaid and postpaid customers. Postpaid customers can access the data plan by contacting their Key Account Managers or visiting the nearest Airtel showroom for activation.

Airtel prepaid customers are to dial *440*7# for the BB10 Max monthly plan; *440*10# for the BB10 Mid monthly plan and *440*13# for the BB 10 Lite monthly plan.

In addition, prepaid customers can also activate the plan via sms by sending BBM, BIM and BLM for BB10 Max monthly, BB10 Mid monthly and BB10 Lite monthly, to special code 440.

With data speed up to 42mbps and presently the largest 3G network in Nigeria covering 36 states + FCT, enjoying the latest BB10 smartphone is best done on Airtel network.

The Airtel BlackBerry 10 Smartphone sells for N100, 000, while the special data bundle offer would last for three months.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Korean Firm Pays 25% Bid Price for Electricity Distribution Company in Nigeria

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Read Time:2 Minute, 6 Second

Korean and indigenous consortium, KEPCO/NEDC has paid the sum of $32.7million, being 25 percent of its bid price of $131million for the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, in which it emerged the core investor. The DISCO was the most keenly contested during the bid tenders, with 10 bids submitted for it.

The payment follows the signing of agreements for the handover of the unbundled companies from the Power Holding Company, PHCN, including generation and distribution companies to the preferred bidders, which took place late last month.

Confirming the payment, a Presidency source told Codewit, “Yes, KEPCO/NEDC paid 25 percent of its bid price for Ikeja DISCO on Monday. The cheque was paid to BPE (Bureau of Public Entreprises).”

However, the Chairman of the Technical Committee, National Council on Privatisation, NCP, Mr. Atedo Peterside, in a telephone interview with Vanguard, insisted that there was no such payment.

According to him, “To the best of my knowledge, it is only the Amperion Consortium that has paid the 25 percent for the Geregu Power Plant. They were the first of the bid winners to make the 25 percent payment, and they did so that Thursday, when in Abuja.”

He argued that the public may have misconstrued this to mean KEPCO, since it was also announced that KEPCO has won 70 percent stake in Egbin Power Plant for $670million.

But reacting to the fairness of awarding the Ikeja DISCO and Egbin, both Nigeria’s biggest DISCO and GENCO, which many argued gave undue advantage to the Korean consortium and may tend towards monopoly in Lagos, Peterside defended that the privatization process has not gone outside its guidelines.

“The rules are very clear and very well known. A core investor is allowed to win a maximum of two DISCOs and one GENCO, which makes three PHCN successor companies,” he said.

He further noted that the Integrated Consortium won two DISCOs – Ibadan and Yola. “Please recall that KEPCO also competed for Ibadan, where they were beaten by Integrated’s superior bid. Based on the rules, KEPCO could have won Ikeja and Ibadan DISCOs plus the Egbin GENCO,” he added.

With regard to the ability of KEPCO to muscle up close to a billion dollars to finance the bids, Peterside argued that as a multinational electricity company, the company can afford to pay. Besides, he added, “At every stage there are bank guarantees and there is a penalty for failure.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: Delta indigenes in the US shocked by flow station relocation

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Read Time:40 Second

Indigenes of Delta North senatorial district based in the United States and Europe, is dismayed over the decision by Pan Ocean Oil Corporation to relocate the flow station on OPL 275, originally mapped out at Obiayima community, to a neighboring town, it says has no oil or gas deposit.

In a statement by its president, Mr Josiah Onyeario, and secretary, Pastor Afam Efeloku, the group urged the oil giant to stop the tension in the area by siting the project where it was originally agreed by the stakeholders including Delta State government.

While they accused a lawmaker in the state of masterminding what they described as an illegality, they threatened to resist the action.

The group commended Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan for his developmental strides in the state and expressed their support for the administration.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: Boxing day inferno, traders want panel to act fast

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Read Time:2 Minute, 11 Second

Okoya/Ojogiwa Traders Association has called on the three-man panel set up by the Lagos State government to act fast in ascertaining the cause(s) of the inferno that has crippled the businesses of most of its members.

The traders have also thrown their weight behind Lagos State governor Babatunde Fashola, for inaugurating the panel,  saying the culprit behind the explosion must be brought to book.

The traders who spoke through their chairman, Mr. Cletus Nnadiukwu, said this will help in finding a lasting solution to the frequent occurrence of fire outbreaks at the market and in the process forestall future occurrences.

Nnadiukwu also called for thorough investigations without fear or favour, saying the traders will offer necessary assistance where necessary. ‘’We are happy that a panel has been set up and we hope it will visit the market in the course of its investigations not minding whose ox is gored. We believe their visit will put a stop to such ugly incidents,’’ they said.

‘’We have lost all our life savings and belongings in one day. Many of us can no longer afford to feed our families. We don’t want the panel to treat the issue with a kid’s glove. The government should help fish out those who perpetrated this evil that has brought this suffering on us; they should also  come to our aid by releasing some funds to us as we are law abiding citizens of Lagos State,’’ said Nnadiukwu.

Going down memory lane, the chairman said the fire crackers that caused the explosion, were brought in on the midnight of the said day amidst tight security provided by armed Mobile police men numbering over a dozen. That has always been a routine thing whenever they’re bringing in these dangerous items.

‘’The place was always under lock and key but the revelation got to us on the said day that the items were dynamites which were in no way safe to be stocked in a residential or commercial area. The dealer is said to live at Dosumu Street on Lagos Island and he deals on fireworks. Most of us deal on kitchen utensils, not fireworks. So, it is highly impossible for such items which are not highly inflammable to have caused the inferno.

“Nobody could precisely tell the cause of the fire outbreak but our members saw dynamites flying in the air, taking off from No 45 Ojogiwa Street and crashing into surrounding buildings and in the process causing the inferno”.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nigeria FG grants N60bn loan to farmers

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IN order to boost agricultural production, Federal Government has provided N60 billion loan for agro-dealers at 9 per cent interest rate across the country.

FG made the loan available through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Central Bank of Nigeria. The loan was granted under the  Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending(NIRSAL) initiative.

This was disclosed yesterday in Ibadan by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs. Ibukun Olusote at a Stakeholders meeting of Southern States on the commencement of the implementation of Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme held at Wallan Hotels, Ibadan.

According to her, the loan will allow small scale input retailers to have access to finance to stock up on seeds and fertilizers all across the country.

The meeting was well-attended by stakeholders in Agriculture industry especially Commissioners for Agriculture in Osun, Ondo, Oyo, Ogun, Imo and other states from the North, South and East.

She also noted that President Goodluck Jonathan had given approval of N15 billion to recapitalize the Bank of Agriculture at less than 10 per cent interest rate for farmers.

”As you are all aware indirect targeting of farmers made it easy to divert funds because subsidised seeds, fertilizers and other equipment are diverted to open market and illegally sold at huge profits. As a result, tens of billions of naira were spent every year to reach farmers with agricultural inputs but the level of utilisation of improved seed and fertilizers remained very low”, she said.

”To ensure that only genuine farmers got the subsidised seeds and fertilizers, we put in place the first ever database of farmers in the history of Nigeria. In 2012, we started with the registration of 4.2 million farmers and will increase this year with 5 million farmers” Olusote promised.

The Oyo State Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Peter Odetomi who read welcome address said, “the impact made by the distribution of seeds, fertilisers and other inputs to the small holder farmers in the country via electronic platform and scratch cards, which started in 2012 cannot be over-emphasized.

Rolling out the achievements of Growth Enhancement Support in the state in 2012, he said it was tremendous adding that 76,082 farmers were validated out of 78,000 farmers that registered for the GES scheme.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: Lagos lawmakers to investigate market row

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Read Time:1 Minute, 48 Second

Members of the Embroidery Dealers Association of Nigeria and Association of Nigeria Marketers and some market women and men in their hundreds besieged the Lagos State House of Assembly protesting against  alleged Chinese’s exploitation that has crippled their businesses in the State.

With their several placards reading “No more Chinese in the markets” “Fashola and Jonathan come to our rescue”, don’t let Chinese exploitation kill us”, the people claimed that Chinese’s exploitation has made it difficult for their businesses to strive again.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly Rt. Honourable Adeyemi Ikuforiji has directed the Assembly’s Committee on Commerce and Industry to immediately commence an investigation into an alleged sharp practices perpetrated by Chinese businessmen in Lagos Markets.

Commending the traders for not resulting to violence during the protest, he assured them of the House’s readiness to resolve the matter.

In his words: “It is the duty of the Assembly to protect the interest of our constituents in whatever situation at all times”. And the Government has always been responsive and will continue to make traders comfortable in our markets”.

While giving directive on investigation into the matter, Ikuforiji urged the traders to remain calm until the Committee reports its finding to the House.

Earlier, the Leader of the traders, Alhaja Risikat Odumosu had appealed to the Speaker to stop what she described as “exploitative policy of the Chinese in Lagos markets”.

“We want to tell you that the Chinese have taken over our shops, giving out shops at rents beyond the reach of the tenants.  We therefore need your assistance and prompt action.  We are suffering in silence but want it broken now”, Odumosu said.

The market leader, who lamented that the traders are absolutely powerless informed the Speaker that shop rents have been increased from N50,000 to N3million.  According to her, the effect of the rent regimes has made the traders bankrupt.  She thereafter appealed to the speaker to rescue the markets from foreign control.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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