A few weeks ago, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, announced a nearly 10% devaluation of the Naira, Nigeria’s currency, after admitting that a plunge in world oil prices and dwindling dollar reserves were making it difficult to defend the value of the currency. The Naira is now trading at N187 to $1, compared to N165 in November. In dollar terms, the devaluation has knocked more than $40 billion off the value of Nigeria’s economy.
Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, is the biggest loser among Nigeria’s richest people as the Naira’s slump, coupled with falling stock prices, has erased more than $7.8 billion of his fortune since February, when FORBES locked in the values for its annual ranking of the World’s Billionaires. Dangote was worth $25 billion at the time; as of market close on Tuesday, he’s worth $17.2 billion. More than half of the drop in his fortune has happened since early November. As of Nov. 7, Dangote was worth $21.6 billion, $4.4 billion more than now.
Here’s why: The last few weeks have been a bit of a disaster for many companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Several blue-chip stocks such as Dangote Cement, Zenith Bank, Transcorp and United Bank of Africa among several others have hit one-year-lows as a result of the fall in oil prices, a general uncertainty regarding the 2015 general elections, Central Bank regulatory headwinds, and weak earnings from large cap companies. These have all contributed toward putting naira-denominated assets including equities at risk.
“This is whipping up negative market sentiments as foreign and institutional investors such as pension funds who hold equity stakes in companies (due to their large cap and liquidity status) have mostly fled their positions,” says Ugodre Obi-Chukwu, a leading financial analyst and publisher of Nairametrics, a website that provides analysis and opinion about Nigerian stocks, investing, personal finance and the economy.
Dangote Cement, Africa’s largest manufacturer of cement has shed close to 40% of its market value between the beginning of November and now. The company’s stock, which was trading at N215 ($1.15) at the beginning of November, is now valued at N165 (88 Cents) as at Monday. At the beginning of November, Dangote’s stake in the cement manufacturer was valued at more than $18 billion. It is now valued at $13.2 billion. Dangote has also lost more than $230 million in paper value within the same period on his stakes in publicly-traded Dangote Sugar, Dangote Flour, and National Salt Company of Nigeria. Between November (when FORBES published the list of Africa’s 50 Richest) and today, Dangote, has lost more than $4 billion in his net worth.
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