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Union Bank pensioners take case to stakeholders

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Some aggrieved pensioners of Union Bank Plc have appealed to stakeholders in the industry to prevail on the bank to complete the actuarial valuation of its pension legacy assets.

Mr Augustine Onun, the Coordinator, Aggrieved Pensioners of Union Bank Plc, Ibadan Zone, made the appeal in an interview in Ibadan.

Onun said that their members had been facing serious financial challenges due to the slashed monthly pension allegedly caused by the bank’s inaction on the valuation of its pension legacy assets.

He said that as at March 2008, the actuarial variation of legacy assets of Union Bank Pension Scheme was given as N46.711billion, adding that the Pension Commission (PENCOM) in January 2010 confirmed the transfer of N30.51billion.

Onun also claimed that PENCOM had through a letter confirmed that the legacy funds of N30.51billion was transferred to Premium Pension Ltd and AIICO Pension Manager Ltd.

He said that PENCOM had urged the bank’s management to provide evidence of the remaining legacy pension of N16.2 billion and the accrued right of N26.57billion to their Retirement Savings Accounts (RSAs).

The commission, according to Onun, had stated that the bank did not comply with Part IV (C) 2 of the PENSION Reform Act 2014 as amended.

He alleged that the refusal of the bank to transfer the entire retirement benefits of pensioners into their RSAs had short changed retirees.

According to Onun, a pensioner that receives N52, 000 as monthly pension under the old in-house pension scheme, now gets N18, 000 under the new programme.

He claimed that several appeals made to the bank’s management by stakeholders such as PENCOM, Union Bank Pensioners Association and NUBIFIE retirees were ignored.

The group called on other stakeholders to intervene to help assuage the pains of retirees.

But reacting to the development, Mrs Ugochukwu Ekezie-Ekaidem, the bank’s Head of Corporate Communication, denied that such an issue was still subsisting.

She claimed that issues bordering on pensions were recently resolved.

Ekezie-Ekaidem also said that the bank would continue to appreciate the services of its pensioners and was ever committed to resolving any outstanding issue in a transparent and fair manner to all parties involved.

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BUSINESS

Stock futures fall ahead of a big week of retail earnings

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Stock futures fell early on Monday after a week of steep losses that ended on a high note, and ahead of a big earnings week for retailers.

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped by 31 points, or 0.1%, while S&P 500 futures fell 0.47%. Nasdaq 100 futures were down 0.71%.

On Friday, the Dow rose 466.36 points, or 1.47%, while the S&P 500 climbed 2.39%. The Nasdaq Composite jumped 3.82% and posted its strongest one-day gain since November 2020. Still, all three averages posted losing weeks.

The gains came as investors went into relief rally mode to cap off a bad week for stocks in which the S&P 500 nearly descended into bear market territory.

It remains to be seen, however, how long the rally will last or how much further stocks have to fall before this year’s downtrend bottoms.

“Given the history of bear markets, coupled with the fact that the Fed has just begun its rate hike cycle and would like to see financial conditions continue to tighten so that demand pulls back further, this rally will most likely weaken,” said Quincy Krosby, chief equity strategist for LPL Financial.

Still, some investors and analysts say, whether or not the bottom is in, there are good buying opportunities at the market’s current lows.

“I’m not calling the bottom here, but there’s some opportunity here to dollar cost average,” said Sylvia Jablonski, CEO and chief investment officer at Defiance ETFs, told CNBC. “If you’re sitting on a bunch of cash, you’re locking in losses because of inflation. Investing in equities or asset classes that you believe in… it is the lesser evil. The selling fatigue will wane, the market will reset. It’s unlikely the Dow and the S&P are going to be in correction territory six months to a year from now.”

Retail earnings season kicks off this week with several big-box retailers set to report results for the first quarter, including Walmart, Target and Home Depot. Elsewhere, Deere is also on deck, along with a handful of technology companies.

Investors will also have their eye on retail sales data this week, which could give them insight into how retailers are managing inflation, which remains near 40-year highs.

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Nigeria issues new guidelines on cryptocurrencies 

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The Nigerian government has released new guidelines aimed at protecting investors in digital assets as trades in cryptocurrencies get boost in Africa’s most populous nation.

The rules issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) offers more clarity on trading in cryptocurrencies, it was learnt.

The rules cover “issuance, offering platforms and custody of digital assets” for virtual technologies, according to a statement on its website.

This is coming amidst controversy over the acceptability of cryptocurrencies in Nigerian financial ecosystem.

Despite order by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to commercial banks to stop transactions in cryptocurrencies, Nigeria is said to account for the largest volume of cryptocurrency transactions outside the U.S., as data from Paxful, a Bitcoin marketplace reveals.

Experts however believe this would go a long way in boosting trading in cryptocurrencies which is gaining global traction.

The new rules cover the issuance of digital assets as securities, the registration of platforms and digital asset custodians, exchanges and virtual assets service providers.

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BUSINESS

Apple is no longer the world’s most valuable company

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Oil giant Saudi Aramco on Wednesday surpassed Apple as the world’s most valuable firm.

Aramco’s market valuation was just under $2.43 trillion on Wednesday, according to FactSet, which converted its market cap to dollars. Apple, which fell more than 5% during trading in the U.S. on Wednesday, is now worth $2.37 trillion.

Energy stocks and prices have been rising as investors sell off equities in several industries, including technology, on fears of a deteriorating economic environment. Apple has fallen nearly 20% since its $182.94 peak on Jan. 4.

The move is mostly symbolic, but it shows how markets are shifting as the global economy grapples with rising interest rates, inflation, and supply chain problems.

Aramco stock is up over 27% so far in 2022. In March, the oil giant reported that its full-year profit last year more than doubled due to soaring oil prices.

Apple passed Saudi Aramco to become the world’s most valuable publicly traded company in 2020.

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