PMorgan Chase & Co. has excluded Nigeria from its local-currency emerging-market bond indexes tracked by more than $200 billion of funds, after restrictions on foreign-exchange transactions prompted investor concerns about a shortage of liquidity.
The first phase of removing Africa’s biggest economy from the Government Bond Index-Emerging Markets, or GBI-EM, will take place at the end this month followed by a full exit by the end of October, the New York-based lender said in a statement sent to Bloomberg on Tuesday by spokesman Patrick Burton.
It means Nigeria will “lose a significant chunk of regular portfolio inflows,” Gareth Brickman, a market analyst at ETM Analytics NA LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, said in a e-mailed note on Wednesday, estimating that more than $3 billion of Nigerian bonds will need to be sold. “The pressure will most certainly be back on the bank to allow the official naira rate to be at a lower, more sustainable level. Whether this comes with a more liberalized foreign-exchange regime is now anyone’s guess.”
Nigeria will not be eligible for re-entry for at least 12 months from the date of exclusion, JPMorgan said. The country has a 1.5 percent weighting in the biggest GBI-EM index, which is tracked by $183.8 billion of funds, according to the bank.
“Investors who track the GBI-EM series continue to face challenges and uncertainty while transacting in the naira due to the lack of a fully functional two-way FX market and limited transparency,” JPMorgan said in the statement. “As a result, Nigeria will be removed.”
The naira weakened 20 percent to a record low of 206.32 per dollar in the year through Feb. 12. Extra curbs introduced by Emefiele after that slashed trading in the interbank market and have seen the currency stabilize at an average of 198.93 since the beginning of February.
“This will place additional pressure on the currency and even more upward pressure on domestic yields,” Stephen Bailey-Smith, head of Africa strategy at Standard Bank Group Ltd., said by phone from London.
JPMorgan included Nigeria in the GBI-EM in October 2012 after Emefiele’s predecessor, Lamido Sanusi, removed a rule that foreign buyers of naira bonds had to hold them for at least a year. Foreign holdings of the country’s local debt surged as a result to a peak of about $11 billion in 2013 before falling to $3 billion today, Samir Gadio, head of Africa strategy at Standard Chartered Plc., said by phone from London.
The exclusion hurts Nigeria just as President Muhammadu Buhari, in power since May, prepares to announce his cabinet, according to Ronak Gopaldas, head of country risk at Rand Merchant Bank. Buhari said he would have ministers in place by the end of the month.