By NBF News
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By Michael Eboh
The Federal Government of Nigeria has appointed Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria as sovereign credit ratings advisor for the country.

With this development, the bank has been given the mandate to assign credit ratings to Nigeria as well as ratings on debt instruments among others.

Nigeria currently maintains credit ratings from Standard & Poor and Fitch Ratings.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Lagos, Dr. Yerima Ngama, Minister of State for Finance, who signed on behalf of the Federal Government, said the appointment will contribute significantly in the drive towards increased foreign investment in Nigeria and in achieving the Vision 20:2020 objectives of the government.

He said, 'The formalisation of this alliance this morning is a clear attestation to the fact that a key component of Nigeria's future economic success is strategic partnerships.

'Nigeria needs the collaborative efforts of both public and private sector leaders to achieve the level of investment and development needed to reposition the country as a dominant economy in Africa and to actualize the goals of Vision 20:2020.

'We are confident about Standard Chartered Bank's vast knowledge of the operating environments of developing countries like Nigeria and its strong view that Nigeria deserves a better rating given the progress made so far.'

Also speaking, Group Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered, Peter Sands said the new role will present an opportunity for the bank to inform the international investing community of the strength of the Nigerian economy.

'Standard Chartered views its role as ratings advisor as part of its intensive engagement with the Bank's government clients,' he said, 'and as an avenue to help communicate the strengths of Nigeria to the international market.  We see this role as part of our effort to fulfil our brand promise of being 'Here for good'.'

According to a statement, signed by Mr. Diran Olojo, Head, Corporate Affairs, Standard Chartered, Nigeria's sovereign credit ratings are important indicators for international investors and support the Central Bank's efforts to increase foreign participation in the domestic capital markets, as evidenced by the recent relaxation in the minimum holding period for domestic government bonds.

He said, 'In addition, following the inaugural overseas US Dollar bond offering by the sovereign itself in January, Nigerian corporations and banks are increasingly accessing the international markets to finance their expansion plans.

For these borrowers, the sovereign ratings are of critical importance as they set a benchmark for their own ratings, impacting their financing cost in overseas markets.

'In Africa, Standard Chartered also serves as ratings advisor to Ghana and Senegal.'