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Shell’s Sale of Nigerian Assets Faces Dollar-Crunch Challenge

Nigeria’s lenders likely don’t have enough dollars to fund clients seeking to acquire oil assets put on sale by the local unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, the country’s biggest lender said. 

Guaranty Trust Bank Plc doesn’t see the likelihood of any client raising the estimated $2.3 billion needed to purchase the Shell assets, said Segun Agbaje, CEO of the financial group that owns the lender. Such a deal would require a syndication of up to $1.8 billion, and it “can be very tough to raise this kind of funding locally at the moment,” Agbaje said.

Shell said in May it would exit its onshore oil position in Nigeria, which it no longer considers compatible with its strategic ambitions.

“When I look at the books of Nigerian banks today, I don’t see a lot of dollar liquidity,” Agbaje told an investor conference call in Lagos on Tuesday. “It’s becoming a very difficult deal for people to pull off.”

Nigerian banks, which in 2013 syndicated $3.3 billion debt to Dangote Industries for a refinery and petrochemical plant and recently financed Heirs Holding’s $1.1 billion acquisition of OML 17, have seen their capacity to take on such deals wane considerably. A slump in crude prices and an economic downturn arising from the coronavirus pandemic curbed foreign-currency flows into Africa’s largest crude producer and pressured reserves.

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