Distinguished Shareholders, members of the Board of Directors, Guests, Ladies, and Gentlemen. It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the 43rd Annual General Meeting of your company, International Energy Insurance Plc, and present to you our Annual Reports and Accounts for the year ended December 31, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively. Before detailing the results of your company, let me take you on a brief review and quickly analyze the very challenging environment under which your company operated. Despite these challenges, your company posted inspiring performance.
THE GLOBAL ECONOMY
The COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted high and rising human costs worldwide, and the necessary protection measures were severely impacting economic activity. As a result of the pandemic, the global economy was projected to contract sharply by –3 percent in 2020, much worse than during the 2008–09 financial crisis. A baseline scenario assumes that the pandemic fades in the second half of 2020 and containment efforts can be gradually unwound. The global economy was projected to grow by 5.8 percent in 2021 as economic activity normalizes, helped by policy support.
In the third quarter of 2020, the global economy rebounded strongly from the steep fall in output suffered in the year’s first half amid the covid-19 pandemic. The recovery was slowed down by another wave of infections and policy measures to contain it, but in the aggregate, the global economy was projected to remain on an upward trajectory while GDP in Europe was projected to decline again in the fourth quarter, output was expected to continue to rise in most of the rest of the world, with economic momentum in China being quite high. Unlike in spring, manufacturing output, international trade in goods, and raw material prices have been hardly affected so far. Economic activity was expected to recover during the first quarter even when it was depressed, as the wave of infection was expected to subside. In the remainder of the year, with the population increasingly being vaccinated, a progressive normalization of the economic environment can be expected, including for the particularly contact-intensive sectors of the economy.
The recovery of the global economy continued in the fourth quarter of 2020, amidst the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit at a slow pace across Advanced Economies (AEs) and Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs). The growth outcome was reinforced by stronger financial flows, rising employment, and improved business optimism. Also, the production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines boosted investors’ confidence. Business activity of service providers rose at the fastest pace, with expansion across the business, consumer, and financial services industries. Accordingly, the average J.P. Morgan Global Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) accelerated in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared with slowed economic activity in the third quarter of 2020, and the corresponding fourth quarter of 2019. However, the rate of expansion in manufacturing production eased, as a downturn in the intermediate and investment goods sub-industries offset the growth in the production of consumer goods. Overall, the business outlook remained positive in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, India, United Arab Emirates, and Italy, but was negative for Japan and South Africa.
The global economy was projected to grow 6.0 percent in 2021 and 4.9 percent in 2022. 2021 global forecasted remained unchanged from the April 2021 WEO, but with offsetting revisions. Prospects for emerging markets and developing economies have been marked down for 2021, especially for Emerging Asia. By contrast, the forecast for advanced economies was revised. These revisions reflect pandemic developments and changes in policy support. The 0.5 percentage-point upgrade for 2022 is derived largely from the forecast upgrade for advanced economies, particularly the United States, reflecting the anticipated legislation of additional financial support in the second half of 2021 and improved health metrics more broadly across the group.
After rebounding to an estimated 5.5 percent in 2021, global growth is expected to decelerate markedly to 4.1 percent in 2022, reflecting continued COVID-19 flare-ups, diminished fiscal support, and lingering supply bottlenecks. The near-term outlook for global growth is somewhat weaker, and for global inflation notably higher, than previously envisioned, owing to pandemic resurgence, higher food and energy prices, and more pernicious supply disruptions. Global growth was projected to soften further to 3.2 percent in 2023, as pent-up demand wanes and supportive macroeconomic policies continue to be unwound. Although output and investment in advanced economies were projected to return to pre-pandemic trends in the coming year, in emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs), particularly in small states and fragile and conflict-afflicted countries they are expected to remain markedly below, owing to lower vaccination rates, tighter fiscal and monetary policies, and more persistent scarring from the pandemic. Various downside risks cloud the outlook, including simultaneous Omicron-driven economic disruptions, further supply bottlenecks, a de-anchoring of inflation expectations, financial stress, climate-related disasters, and a weakening of long-term growth drivers. As EMDEs have limited policy space to provide additional support if needed, these downside risks heighten the possibility of a hard landing. This underscored the importance of strengthening global cooperation to foster rapid and equitable vaccine distribution, calibrate health and economic policies, enhance debt sustainability in the poorest countries, and tackle the mounting costs of climate change. EMDE policymakers also faced the challenges of heightened inflationary pressures, spillovers from prospective advanced-economy monetary tightening, and constrained fiscal space. Despite budgetary consolidation, debt levels which were already at record highs in many EMDEs were expected to rise further owing to sustained revenue weakness. Over the longer term, EMDEs will need to buttress growth by pursuing decisive policy actions, including reforms that mitigate vulnerabilities to commodity shocks, reduce income and gender inequality, and enhance preparedness for health- and climate-related crises.
THE DOMESTIC ECONOMY
Industrial and business activities witnessed slight improvement over the levels in the preceding quarter, due to increased consumer demand and business confidence, following the full reopening of most economies. Preparations for the end-of-year festivity also contributed to the increase in business activities and demand. The average composite manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) improved to a 49.6 index point, above the 46.8 index point in the preceding quarter. The increase was driven by expansion in four sub-sectors, namely: transportation equipment; non-metallic mineral products; paper products; and food, beverages, and tobacco products. Following the easing of restrictions on travel, delivery time for supplies improved.
Similarly, the average composite non-manufacturing PMI rose to 46.4 index points in the review quarter, compared with the 43.3 index points recorded in the preceding quarter. Increases were observed in some subsectors, particularly arts, entertainment & recreation, electricity, gas, steam & air conditioning supply, water supply, and sewage & waste management. However, despite the relative improvement in both manufacturing and non-manufacturing PMIs, the indices remained below the 50.0 index point threshold. Inflationary pressures persisted in the review quarter, amid heightened demand and supply shocks. This was attributed to the lingering effect of the COVID-19 pandemic containment measures, supply disruptions occasioned by the ‘EndSARS’ protests, and the exchange rate pass-through effect on domestic prices.
Other factors included an increase in the pump price of Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS), food supply shortages, due to the persistent insecurity in some parts of the country, and incidences of floods in some food-growing regions. Consequently, headline inflation, year-on-year, rose to 15.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, over the 13.7 percent and 11.9 percent in the third quarter of 2020 and the fourth quarter of 2019, respectively. Similarly, on a quarter-on-quarter basis, headline inflation rose by 1.6 percent, above the 1.5 percent in the preceding quarter. The prices of most agricultural commodities in the international market maintained an upward trend in the fourth quarter of 2020, influenced, generally, by firmer demand. Intervention schemes by the Bank continued to focus on enhanced credit delivery to critical sectors, in a bid to boost productivity and stimulate the real sector of the economy. Crude oil spot prices rose slightly, following increased demand from Asia, particularly China and India, in addition to the optimism that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout would revive global fuel demand. Additionally, OPEC+ slowed the pace of a planned increase in supplies by 2021 to support the spot prices. At N2,208.10 billion, federally collected revenue in the fourth quarter of 2020 fell by 13.1 percent and 8.3 percent below the budget benchmark and the level in the preceding quarter, respectively. It was also 16.8 percent below collections in the corresponding period of 2019. Oil receipts accounted for 44.6 percent of the total collection, while non-oil constituted the balance of 55.4 percent. The relatively low receipts recorded in the review period underscored the lingering effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on domestic and global economic activities. Similarly, the retained revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) stood at N903.52 billion, while provisional aggregate expenditure was N2, 387.46 billion. This resulted in an estimated deficit of N1,483.93 billion. Total FGN debt outstanding in end-September 2020 stood at N28, 032.58 billion, with domestic and external components accounting for 56.5 percent and 43.5 percent, respectively. The external debt constituted 7.7 percent of GDP, which was within the sustainable threshold of 40.0 percent of GDP.
The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ‘EndSARS’ protests and implementation of a curfew in some states, the decline in crude oil prices, negative emerging markets sentiments, and slowdown in economic activities were the major headwinds against the monetary policy in the review period. These factors caused reversals of Foreign Portfolio Investments (FPI) as investors’ confidence in the domestic economy waned. However, key financial market indicators remained moderately stable, due to effective liquidity management by the Bank. Broad money supply (M3) grew by 11.0 percent to N38,673.64 billion at the end of December 2020, which was below the target of 13.1 percent for fiscal 2020. Claims on the domestic economy and narrow money supply (M1) also followed a similar growth trajectory. Monetary policy remained accommodative, during the period, driven, largely, by the need to improve credit flows to key productive sectors to bolster growth in the economy. Capital market activities on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) were bullish, amidst the good corporate performance released for the third quarter of 2020, showing the resilience of the market in the face of the lingering economic downturn and challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The market performance was driven by better-than-expected earnings and investors’ insight on taking position ahead of 2021 corporate actions. The performance of the external sector improved in the fourth quarter of 2020, despite the challenging global environment, characterized by less-than-expected global recovery, weakened demand, amidst the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertain political environment in the U.S.A – Nigeria’s major trading partner. Thus, an estimated overall balance of payments surplus of US$0.79 billion was recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared with the US$0.14 billion recorded in the third quarter. The deficit in the current account, however, widened to US$5.27 billion, compared with US$3.34 billion in the preceding quarter. Net disposal of US$2.50 billion was recorded in the financial account, relative to US$2.66 billion in the preceding quarter. The external reserves in end-December 2020 were US$36.46 billion, compared with US$35.67 billion in end-September 2020. This showed an accretion of US$0.79 billion. At this level, the foreign reserves could finance 8.4 months of import of goods or 6.3 months of import of goods and services. The improvement in external reserves was attributed to the reforms undertaken by the Bank to block leakages and ensure the enhanced inflow of remittances from Nigerians in the Diaspora. In the foreign exchange market, the average naira exchange rate at the I&E and the BDC windows depreciated to N389.04/US$ and N468.17/US$ in the fourth quarter of 2020, from N386.60/US$ and N461.94/US$ in the third quarter of 2020, respectively.
Growth prospects for the Nigerian economy remained weak, as the macroeconomic instability associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and weak crude oil prices, amidst other structural factors, dampen the near-term outlook. Staff projections indicated growth of GDP in the fourth quarter of 2020, given current economic fundamentals. The growth is expected to be more resilient in the first quarter of 2021, following continuous monetary and fiscal policies, including the expected roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine to contain the spread of the virus.
THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY
The Nigerian Insurance Industry’s gross premium income (GPI) grew by 15% year on year to ₦592.3 billion in the financial year ended 31 December 2020. With growth muted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Technological innovation in product distribution induced by the pandemic, regulatory-backed opportunities including the digitization of marine insurance certificates, and increasing awareness of the benefits of insurance are some of the GPI growth drivers during the 2020 financial year. Also, the industry’s assets rose from N1.62tn in 2019 to N2.02tn in 2020.
The lockdown following the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted insurance product distribution, especially with the inter-state travel bans restricting the movement of people and goods. Simultaneously, in the financial year 2020, the industry paid out net claims of circa ₦196 billion, up by 20% year-on-year (representing 37.6% of GPI) and worsened by the violence that trailed the #EndSARS protest in October 2020.
Consequently, modest profitability indices are expected in FY 2021 and to a lesser extent in FY 2022 due to higher claims, an aftermath of the protests as well as inflationary pressures on the Industry.
In the Nigeria Insurance Regulator, National Insurance Commission (“NAICOM”) 2019 reviewed and increased the minimum paid-up share capital requirement for all classes of insurers doing business in Nigeria.
The incidence of the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult to proceed with the 31st of December 2020 recapitalization deadline earlier stated by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM). The Commission has extended the full compliance deadline for the recapitalization exercise in the insurance industry to September 30, 2021, with the first phase to end on December 31, 2020.
In the circular titled “Segmentation of minimum paid-up share capital requirement for Insurance and Reinsurance Companies,” the Regulator said a review of the recapitalization deadline, therefore, became imperative to mitigate likely negative consequences of the pandemic on the exercise.
With this, Insurance companies are expected to recapitalize 50% of the paid-up share capital by end of 2020, and Reinsurance companies 60%, while the remaining 50% and 40% respectively will be completed by end of September 2021.
Distinguished Shareholders, the global and domestic economic events of the year 2020 had significant repercussions for the financial services sub-sector in Nigeria. This was mainly exacerbated by the ravaging effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. The End-Sars protest also hurt the operating environment in Nigeria. Despite the challenging operating environment, the Board was determined to ensure a turn-around in the performance of the Company.
Your company recorded a yearly growth rate of gross premium of -51% in 2017, -52% in 2018, 14% in 2019, and 7% in 2020 translating to N966million, N463million, N525million, and N564million respectively. The turn-around was an indication of the Board’s successful stabilization effort in the company and its eventual acceptability in the insurance market following the intervention by the Regulator. Your company also faced the challenges of restrictions to play in some sectors of the insurance market due to its capital inadequacy. However, the Board is working to address this in the coming months.
Due to the high finance cost arising from the foreign currency-denominated loan, your company has consistently suffered losses over the last four years. This is coming from the significant devaluation of the naira against other currencies.
Although the current economic environment makes it significantly difficult to grow the revenue side of our operation, the task over the next business cycle would be to focus on deepening our market share, while building on our existing strength. We would also focus on maintaining our costs within the limit that will return a profit for the Company.
Following the acquisition of your company’s controlling shares by Norrenberger Advisory Partners Limited, International Energy Insurance Plc has embarked on a Re-engineering exercise that is aimed at repositioning the company to become one of the top three leading insurance companies in the market within the next two to five years.
Your Board is optimistic about the future hence the repositioning of the company through the acquisition exercise which is expected to bring a more robust profit performance and value creation for our Shareholders.
The ICT infrastructure will be upgraded to ensure that our entire branch networks are connected to the head office and are 24/7 in real-time online. We will also embark on strategic alliances with Norrenberger Advisory Partners Limited subsidiaries that will add value to your company and consider options for increasing our sales outlets at strategic locations.
Your company shall re-event itself in 2022 and your Board is committed to the future and will do all that is required to achieve its milestones and market leadership in the shortest possible time.
REGULATORY INTERVENTION OF 18TH MAY 2015
Distinguished Shareholders, you will recall that on May 18, 2015, the Regulator (National Insurance Commission) took over the affairs of your company by appointing an Interim Board to oversee the affairs of your company in other to pave way for the repositioning of the company. The Interim Board delivered its mandates. Amongst others, the Interim Board made the following achievements;
- Assets Recovery.
- Derecognition of accrual interest on a major liability that had inhibited the Company’s growth.
- Business Recovery and Stabilization
- Regular Stakeholder Engagement
- Roadmap to the settlement of arrears of Statutory and other obligations.
- Successful Forensic Investigation
- Successful Annual General Meeting for 2012 to 2016
Upon the approval of NAICOM, the Interim Board implemented the process that ushered in Norrenberger Advisory Partners Limited to acquire 100% equity of the company and this exercise unequivocally brought the Interim Board’s tenure to a close on June 6, 2022.
NEW MANAGING DIRECTOR:
A new Managing Director was appointed on the 20th day of December 2020, to run the affairs of your company following the resignation of the previous Interim Managing Director (Mr. Peter Irene) on the 20th day of December 2020. The new Managing Director, Mr. Ebun Ayeni, is a consummate professional who has been with the company since then till date and has contributed immensely to the growth of your company. We are therefore optimistic that his tenure will bring about the desired improvement in our performance.
I wish to state that our mission is to significantly contribute to the transformation and growth of the Insurance Industry by leveraging technology and top-notch human capital. I, therefore, want to thank our distinguished Shareholders, Clients, Intermediaries, Brokers, Agents, Advisors, and the Public for your continued support and understanding, particularly in our trying times. The tide looks certain to turn soon.
On behalf of the Board of Directors and Shareholders, I express our gratitude to the Management and Staff for their commitment and sterling performance. I cannot thank the Interim Board enough for their unwavering support. The future is bright for all of us as we have positioned the company for rapid growth in the years ahead.
Mr. Bukar Goni Aji, OON, CFR
Chairman, Board of Directors