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.
After Dangote, the second biggest loser among Nigeria’s ultra-rich is Tony Elumelu, the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, an investment company. Heirs Holdings, which is wholly-owned by Elumelu, is the controlling shareholder in Transcorp, a publicly-listed conglomerate with interests in power production, hotels and agriculture. Transcorp’s current market capitalization is now $700 million, down from $1.4 billion at the beginning of November. Heirs Holdings has lost an estimated $345 million in paper value on Transcorp, and its stake in the company as at Monday is now worth roughly $400 million, down from $700 million. Elumelu’s investments in other listed companies like UBA, Africa Prudential PLC and UBA Capital have shed a little over $27 million in value.
Other big losers include Nigerian multi-millionaire banker Jim Ovia, a co-founder of Zenith Bank. The value of his stake in the financial services provider is $240 million as of late Monday, down from more than $350 million last month. He owns a 9% stake in the bank.
“The situation is likely to get worse till it gets better as we expect a frequent boom and bust cycles over the next three months. We noticed this between late October and Early November when stocks plummeted only to recover slightly towards the end of November. Another massive sell-offs then commenced in December that sent stocks to hit multiple year lows. The bulls are back again this week and I expect that to last until January at the latest when another bearish market may take hold. The next bearish session may intensify as we approach the elections and rhetoric’s from politicians ratchet up,” Obi-Chukwu said in an email conversation.