Stock Exchange lifts suspension on Royal Exchange

AUTHORITIES at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Thursday lifted suspension placed on trading on the shares of Royal Exchange Plc after the insurance-based holding group submitted its audited report and accounts.

The NSE had in July 2019 suspended trading on Royal Exchange and 10 other companies for failing to adhere to best corporate governance and extant post-listing requirements that make it mandatory for quoted companies to submit their financial statements within stipulated timelines.

Post-listing rules at the NSE require quoted companies to submit their audited earnings reports, not later than 90 calendar days after the expiration of the period. The rules also require quoted companies to submit interim report not later than 30 calendar days after the end of the relevant period.

Not less than 83 per cent of quoted companies use the 12-month Gregorian calendar year as their business year. The business year thus terminates on December 31. While March 31 is usually the deadline for submission of annual report for companies with Gregorian calendar business year, the deadline for the quarterly report is a month after the quarter.

The NSE stated that Royal Exchange has submitted its audited financial statement, prompting the Exchange to restore trading on the company on Thursday.

Key extracts of the audited report and accounts for the year ended December 31, 2018 showed that the group made a net loss of N156.18 million in 2018, an improvement on net loss of N969.64 million recorded in 2017. Loss per share thus declined from 19 kobo in 2017 to 3.0 kobo in 2018.

Gross premium written rose by 15 per cent from N12.82 billion in 2017 to N14.71 billion in 2018. Underwriting income rose by 28 per cent from N7.6 billion to N9.7 billion, Underwriting profit jumped by 249 per cent to N3.67 billion in 2018 as against N1.05 billion in 2017. Profit before tax stood at N326.87 million in 2018 compared with pre-tax loss of N682.13 million in 2017.

However, the interim report and accounts of the group for the first quarter ended March 31, 2019 showed a general decline in performance.  Gross premium written dropped by 27 per cent to N5.6 billion in first quarter 2019 as against N7.68 billion recorded in first quarter 2018. Underwriting income declined by 12 per cent from N2.7 billion to N2.38 billion. Underwriting profit dropped by 55 per cent to N563.37 million in first quarter 2019 compared with N1.23 billion recorded in corresponding period of 2018.

The group recorded a pre-tax loss of N142.09 million in first quarter 2019 as against pre-tax profit of N572,40 million in first quarter 2018. After taxes, net loss rose to N187.56 million in first quarter 2019 as against net profit of N389.9 million in first quarter 2018. Loss per share thus stood at 4.0 kobo in first quarter 2019 as against earnings per share of 8.0 kobo in first quarter 2018.

An investment fund set up by the German government recently acquired 39.25 per cent in Royal Exchange General Insurance Company (REGIC) Limited, a subsidiary of Royal Exchange. The investment fund- InsuResilience Investment Fund (IIF) was set up on behalf of German government by KfW and managed by Swiss-based Impact Investment Manager BlueOrchard Finance Limited.

The proceeds of the acquisition would help REGIC to spur growth by increasing its risk capital and supporting its underwriting capacity in agriculture, thus extending its outreach to low income farmers.

Based in Luxembourg, IIF was set up by KfW, the German Development Bank, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The overall objective of IIF is to contribute to adaptation to climate change by improving access to and the use of insurance in developing countries.