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IAG Signs Deal to Buy 200 Boeing 737 Max Planes For $24bln

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International Airlines Group (IAG), one of the world’s largest airline groups, announced recently it plans to build its future fleet with the Boeing 737 MAX with an intention to purchase 200 MAX jets.

US manufacturer Boeing has faced a backlash in recent months after airlines around the world grounded its fleets of 737 Max 8 jets in the wake of two fatal crashes within five months. There where 157 lives lost in Ethiopia in March and 189 were killed in Indonesia in October 2018.

Boeing has had to update the software for its 737 Max aircraft and conduct a number of tests before receiving regulatory approvals to fly again.

In a statement, IAG and Boeing said the two companies have been in discussions regarding the opportunity and signed a letter of intent at the Paris Air Show in a deal that would be valued at more than U.S.$24 billion, per list prices.

IAG is the parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, Vueling and LEVEL that fly more than 113 million passengers a year combined.

The group has been a long-time operator of Boeing twin-aisle airplanes. Earlier this year, IAG group committed to and finalised a major order for Boeing’s newest long-haul model, the 777X, to complement its fleet of current-generation 777s and new 787 Dreamliners.

In the single-aisle segment, IAG and its affiliates used to operate Classic 737 aircraft but today its fleet is almost exclusively Airbus A320 family aircraft.

Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said the group would consider the 737 MAX as part of diversifying its future fleet to spur competition.

“We’re very pleased to sign this letter of intent with Boeing and are certain that these aircraft will be a great addition to IAG’s short-haul fleet,” Walsh said.

“We have every confidence in Boeing and expect that the aircraft will make a successful return to service in the coming months having received approval from the regulators.”

In selecting the 737 MAX, IAG said it will fly a combination of the 737 MAX 8, which seats up to 178 passengers in a two-class configuration, and the larger 737 MAX 10 jet, which can accommodate as many as 230 passengers.

The airline did not disclose a specific split between the two MAX models, though it anticipates deploying the aircraft at a number of the group’s airlines including Vueling and LEVEL.

Kevin McAllister, president and chief executive of Boeing commercial airplanes, said they were honored and humbled by the leadership at InAG for placing their trust and confidence in the 737 MAX.

“We are delighted that the IAG team recognised the superior qualities of the 737 MAX and has indicated an intention to return to the Boeing 737 family. We look forward to building on our long-standing partnership with IAG for many years to come,” McAllister said.

Source: African News Agency (ANA)

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SPDC disburses N41.1bn on Rivers, other states’ projects

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The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited has spent a total of N41.1bn ($228m) to fund development projects in Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa and Abia states in the last 13 years.

The General Manager, External Relations, SPDC, Mr Igo Weli, disclosed this during the inauguration of one of the projects in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. The event was organised by the Tarakiri Cluster Development Board and the Oporomor Cluster Development Board.

The SPDC is the operator of a joint venture agreement involving the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Shell, Total Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited and Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited.

At the events, 24 completed projects for 2019 valued at N496.9m were handed over to Tarakiri Cluster communities while those of Oporomor Cluster communities for 2019 were valued at N737.4m.

Beneficiaries of the Tarakiri Cluster communities were given as Ayamasa, Agbere, Isampou, Ofoni, Agbidiama and Egbemo-Angalabiri communities, all in the Ekeremor Local Government Area of the state.

The benefiting communities under the Oporomor Cluster are Peretorugbene, Amambolou, Oweigbene, Ndoro I, Ndoror II, Tamogbene and Norgbene, also in the Ekeremor LGA.

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AfDB Advocates disclose $1.8tn AUM for Investment

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In line with driving development in Africa, the President of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, has announced the need to mobilise mutual funds and other Assets Under Management (AUM) in the continent put at $1.8 trillion, to drive Africa’s development. He disclosed this in an interview on the sidelines of the just-concluded 2019 Annual Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington DC recently.

He also said commercial banks who desire to get credit lines from the AfDB would have to increase lending to women-focused businesses, saying the bank was set to launch a rating for women- focused lending.

Through mobilising capital to accelerate growth in the continent, he stated: “Africa today has in its pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and insurance mutual funds $1.8 trillion of asset under management.

“Those sovereign wealth funds and pension funds are being invested outside of Africa in money market instruments that are generating negative real yield of returns.”

He added: “So what we are working on at the AfDB is how do we get the pensions and sovereign wealth funds to invest in Africa.

“Africa Sovereign funds shouldn’t be invested in other sovereigns, it should be invested in Africa to create better wealth and better environment and quality of lives for our people. For me that is very important.”

Speaking further, he said: “The other thing is in terms of stimulating growth is the role of capital markets. The AfDB is supporting strongly the development of capital markets to be able to mobilise domestic savings and to drive investments in the economy.”

The AfDB boss mentioned that, the bank has been able to mobilise $3 billion for small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs). And AfDB was planning to launch what he described as a Women Financing Index for Africa.

Under the arrangement, all financial institutions in Africa would be rated based on their lending to women. The ratings, he said would be both in terms of the volume of lending and in terms of the lending that they give as well as its impact on women.

In addition, he said, “So, those who lend more to women will get more resources from us and those who are lending more can get more resources at a discounted rate from the bank; so, you can lend more and have more impact for women.

“I will like to see financial institutions in Africa being held fully accountable when it comes financing women. The reason for that is very simple. For me, women run African economies and I think we need to support them and helping them get the financing that they need.

“It is part of a bigger agenda that we have where we are supporting women, this in particular is very strategic. We would help to minimise $3 billion for women businesses.

“I think when Africans get the issues of women right, we can get everything right. We provide funding through Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) that will help to mobilise funding for women in Africa.” He noted.

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Access Bank’s hits N1bn digital lending Daily

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As part of its achievements, the leading financial institution Access Bank has expanded digital lending portfolio through  given Nigerians instant and  access to funds for insurgencies without any collateral, and has hit N1bn daily in loan value.

The Executive Director, Retail Banking, Access Bank Plc, Victor Etuokwu, said in a statement, “We are at the forefront of digital lending across the continent. This is a deliberate choice we made when we introduced the first USSD based digital lending product in Nigeria based on our deep understanding of our operating environment.

“In the past two years, we have disbursed loans to over 3.5 million  individuals. We acknowledge it is no mean feat when compared to where the market is coming from, but this is still a scratch in the overall potential of this market.

“This year alone we have disbursed over N45bn in over 2 million disbursements to individuals and have recently witnessed a spike in our volumes hitting N1bn daily. This achievement and our focus on retail lending reiterate our commitment to democratise access to financial services leveraging digital technology.”

Since the launch of Access Bank’s digital loan portfolio with PayDay Loan as the flagship product, Access Bank said it had continued to expand its loan portfolio using its proved innovative algorithms and deep machine learning capabilities.

The bank’s retail innovation journey had led it to expand its digital loan offerings to other multi-tenured variants to fit the needs of its diverse retail customer segments, it added.

Access Bank also launched a dedicated loan application platform known as QuickBucks in the third quarter of 2018; a Mobile Banking Application for digital loans aimed at improving customers borrowing experience for retail loans.

As part of its commitment to deepening digital finance, the bank said it had gone a step ahead to provide access to phone ownership as it recently launched a 12-month device ownership scheme where any salary earning customer could select a phone of his choice from its QuickBucks app and walk into any of its partner outlets across the country to pick up the phone.

The Head Digital Banking Business Development, Access Bank, Chinedu Onuoha, said, “Our objective is to ensure that there is a digital loan product for every adult Nigerian who has proven means of livelihood because we know that every individual at one point or another requires some form of financial support.”

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