For her unprecedented bravery and timing of accessing a volatile market place, Nigeria has been awarded the 2013 Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Finance Best Sovereign Bond by the Citigroup.
The country issued a $1 billion Eurobond which was more than four times over-subscribed last year.
Presenting the award Frirday to the Federal Government through the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Citigroup said the country recorded huge success with the Eurobond issuance last year amid the economic uncertainty which pervaded the global capital market.
Speaking at the presentation of the plague to the minister who was accompanied by the Director- General, Debt Management Office (DMO), Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Citigroup, Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Mr. Jim Cowles said notwithstanding the turbulence in the global market “Nigeria stepped forward with confidence and accessed the market.”
Cowles added:”I think it’s the most successful in the year and a number of criteria were used: one is the leadership in terms of market timing and the other one is the demand that was generated for the offering.
“When you take a look at the timing, this is the first sovereign bond that was issued in the beginning part of last year and it was quite a little bit uncommon in the market place because of discussions on tapering on Quantitative Easing (QE).
“So we think that the Nigerian government showed great courage and foresight in terms of access to the market when they did. When they did go to the market place they generated quite a bit of demand; there was a billion dollar offering-they generated demand for the offering which was more than four times over-subscribed- which gave them the opportunity to have very good pricing on the bond. So, it’s a combination of timing, the size, the pricing in terms of access in the market place.”
The Citigroup boss also expressed satisfaction at the utilization of the proceeds from the Eurobond.
He said:”The usage of the proceeds is more than 90 percent. The use of funds is going to infrastructure, more specifically power, which is obviously very significant investment. When we look at Nigeria, we think that the continued focusing on infrastructure investment is critical. So we believe there’s a proper use of funds.
Meanwhile, Okonjo-Iweala while receiving the award, congratulated all Nigerians adding that the recognition came at a unique moment amid recent developments in the country.
She said the award demonstrated government’s strategy of leveraging on the strengths of the economy to boost critical sectors including power.
She said:”The focus of the Jonathan administration is on transforming key sectors through innovative management of the economy. This award shows that we are on the right track.”
Okonjo-Iweala emphasised that the major reason for the 2013 bond was to build on a successful debt strategy with a view to reducing government borrowing in the domestic market as well as reduce debt service costs.