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Unilever Nigeria’s H1 performance reflects agility and resilience of the business

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Today, Unilever Nigeria announced its results for the first half of 2020, which show that overall underlying sales declined 0.1%, with developed markets up 2.4% and emerging markets down 1.9%.

Underlying sales declined 0.1% with volume declining 0.3% and price growth of 0.2%
Turnover decreased 1.6% including a positive impact of 1.1% from acquisitions net of disposals and negative impact of 2.5% from currency
Underlying operating profit excluding currency increased by 3.8%, before a negative impact of 3.2% from currency
Underlying earnings per share up 6.4%, including a negative impact of 3.7% from currency
Free cash flow up €1.3 billion to €2.9 billion, reflecting our objective to protect cash during the crisis
Quarterly shareholder dividend maintained at €0.4104 per share
Completed acquisitions of Horlicks brand from GSK, enhancing presence in healthy nutrition
Announced plans to unify the Group legal structure under a single parent company

A statement from CEO Alan Jope

“Performance during the first half has shown the true strength of Unilever. We have demonstrated the resilience of the business – in our portfolio, in a continued step-up in operational excellence, and in our financial position – and we have unlocked new levels of agility in responding to unprecedented fluctuations in demand.

We have also taken action to strengthen the strategic future of the company by announcing proposals to unify our dual-headed legal structure, progressing the strategic review of our global tea business and making new commitments to help protect the climate and regenerate nature.

From the start of the Covid-19 crisis, we have been guided by clear priorities in line with our multi-stakeholder business model to protect our people, safeguard supply, respond to new patterns of consumer demand, preserve cash and support our communities.

Our focus for the rest of 2020 will continue to be volume led to competitive growth, absolute profit and cash delivery, as this is the best way to maximise shareholder value.
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I would like to thank every member of the Unilever team for the outstanding commitment they have shown in the most difficult of circumstances.”
Our markets

The spread of Covid-19, combined with the lockdowns and restrictions that have been implemented in many countries, has led to significant changes in the operating environment in our markets. Consumer demand patterns have been impacted by channel closures, more time spent in the home and the critical importance of hygiene.

China was the first of our markets to be impacted by Covid-19, entering lockdown in January. China slowed significantly during the lockdown period, with some recovery after April as the economy opened back up.

In most other major markets, sales patterns in January and February were normal and Covid-19 impacted from March onwards. In North America and parts of Europe, there was a positive impact from household stocking in March. Consumption patterns then normalised in the second quarter with heightened levels of demand for hygiene and in-home food products.
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Market growth in India had already been slowing prior to the spread of Covid-19 and the market was further impacted by the introduction of the strict national lockdown at the end of March.

This national lockdown continued until early June when it was followed by further regional lockdowns. Latin America was impacted by Covid-19 later than other major markets, with the effects primarily in the second quarter, exacerbating already challenging conditions in the region.
Overall performance

Underlying sales declined 0.1% with volumes declining 0.3% and price growth of 0.2%. Developed markets grew by 2.4% whilst emerging markets declined by 1.9%.

The impact of Covid-19 on our business in the first half varied widely across our channels and categories. Channel closures as a result of lockdowns in our markets negatively impacted our food service, out-of-home ice cream and Prestige businesses.
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Foodservice declined by nearly 40% and out-of-home ice cream declined by nearly 30%. Shoppers moved from offline to online channels, driving eCommerce growth of 49%.

As people spent more time in their homes, we saw growth in-home consumption of foods, ice cream and tea. It also meant that consumers had fewer personal care occasions from going to work or socialising, and we saw a decline in our personal care business, except for hygiene products.

The effectiveness of good hygiene practices against the spread of Covid-19 increased demand for our hand and home hygiene products, which each grew double digits.

Consumers eating and cleaning more at home, and focusing more on hand hygiene, led to underlying sales growth in North America of 9.5% in the second quarter, despite a negative impact of 3.7% from food solutions and Prestige channel closures.

The lockdowns introduced in our markets during the first half varied in severity, with some having a more significant impact on the supply and availability of goods, particularly those in India and China.

China entered lockdown in January and declined mid-teens during the first quarter. The market reopened from April, and China returned to mid-single-digit growth in the second quarter. Growth in India was impacted by the lockdown implemented from March.

Turnover decreased by 1.6%. There was a positive impact of 1.1% from acquisitions net of disposals and a negative impact of 2.5% from currency.

Underlying operating profit was €5.1 billion, an increase of 3.8% excluding a negative impact from currency of 3.2%. Underlying operating margin improved by 50bps.

As consumer habits and the status of lockdowns have been changing during this period, we have been quick to adapt and reallocate our brand and marketing investment week-by-week.
Read Also: Mouka Donates 200 Mattresses to Ogun State Government For COVID-19 Isolation Centres

In response to lockdowns in our markets, we reduced spend in some channels and geographies while maintaining investment in growth opportunities. This, combined with a deflationary environment in media rates, led to a reduction in brand and marketing investment by 100bps during the period.

In the second half of the year, we expect to see higher brand and marketing investment, as lockdowns ease and we support brand campaigns and product innovations tailored to the new environment.

Gross margin reduced by 30bps driven by costs to adapt and run our supply chain in response to Covid-19, ensuring the safety and continuity of our operations, as well as an adverse mix effect. Overheads increased by 20bps, including an adverse currency mix.

We delivered free cash flow of €2.9 billion, an increase of €1.3 billion. The increase was driven by favourable working capital movements, reduced capital expenditure and lower cash tax paid, primarily a result of a higher tax on disposals in the prior year relating to the disposal of the spreads business.
Covid-19 response and support measures

We have put in place a wide-ranging set of measures to support global and national efforts to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
Read Also: COVID-19: Actions To Curb Spread Send PMI To Very Weak Expansion

In our own operations, strict protocols for hygiene and physical distancing are in place for our sourcing units and distribution centres. Our office-based employees have been working from home since March, with some limited reopening of office workplaces in selected countries, where stringent requirements have been met.

We are supporting global efforts to tackle Covid-19, contributing €100 million through donations of soap, sanitiser, bleach and food. We are also working in partnership with others, including a programme to reach up to a billion people globally with the UK Department for International Development to urgently tackle the spread of the disease through raising hygiene awareness and changing behaviour.

We have also made available up to €500 million of cash flow relief for our most vulnerable small and medium-sized suppliers, though so far the levels of uptake have been low.

Our financial strength remains robust and we have not sought Covid-19 related financial support from any governments.
Strategic review of tea

In January, we announced a strategic review of the global tea business, which includes leading brands such as Lipton, Brooke Bond and PG Tips.

This review has assessed a full range of options. We will retain the tea businesses in India and Indonesia, and the partnership interests in the ready-to-drink tea joint ventures.

The balance of Unilever’s tea brands and geographies and all tea estates have an exciting future, and this potential can best be achieved as a separate entity. A process will now begin to implement the separation, which is expected to conclude by the end of 2021.

The tea business that will be separated generated revenues of €2 billion in 2019.
Recent acquisitions

During the second quarter, we completed the acquisitions of the health food drinks portfolio of GlaxoSmithKline in India, Bangladesh and 20 other predominantly Asian markets. Acquiring the iconic brands Horlicks and Boost are in line with Unilever’s strategy to enhance its presence in healthy nutrition.
Beauty & Personal Care

Beauty & Personal Care underlying sales declined by 0.3%, with volume growth of 0.1% and negative pricing of 0.4%.

Skin cleansing saw mid-teens volume-led growth, as we quickly responded to the critical need for hand hygiene to prevent the spread of Covid-19. We rolled out our Lifebuoy hygiene brand to over 50 markets and increased our hand sanitiser capacity by around 600 times across several brands. This helped contribute to double-digit growth for Suave.

Lockdowns in our markets and reduced personal care occasions amidst restricted living led to lower demand for skin care, deodorants and hair care, which each saw volume and price decline. The division’s largest brand Dove remained resilient, with mid-single-digit growth.

Our Prestige portfolio was impacted by health and beauty channel closures in many markets. Consumer oral care demand remained robust. However, the category saw negative volumes related to the disruption caused by lockdowns in key markets.
Home Care

Home Care underlying sales grew 3.2%, with 2.9% from volume and positive pricing of 0.3%.

We saw increased consumer demand for household cleaning products, such as Cif surface cleaners, and our home and hygiene brands delivered high-teens underlying sales growth. Working with environmental health experts, Domestos educated consumers about targeted cleaning of high-touch surfaces in the home to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and saw strong double-digit growth.

Strict lockdowns in Asia impacted fabric solutions, which declined overall. However future formats such as capsules and liquids continued to grow. Clean and green brand Seventh Generation saw strong double-digit, volume-led growth. Fabric sensations declined low-single digit, driven by Brazil and China.
Foods & Refreshment

Foods & Refreshment underlying sales declined 1.7%, with volumes down 2.5% and positive pricing of 0.8%.

Lockdowns in most markets led to the closure of out-of-home channels. This, together with reduced tourism, led to a reduction in out-of-home ice cream sales of nearly 30%. Similarly, foodservice sales were down around 40% as hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars closed.

At the same time, we saw double-digit growth in our retail foods business with Knorr and Hellmann’s performing strongly.

Sales of ice cream for consumption in-home increased by 15% in the first half and by 26% in the second quarter, significantly offsetting the declines in out-of-home channels. Magnum and Ben and Jerry’s continued to grow strongly.

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How to sell Gift cards, Bitcoin & cash App at a very High Rate – Bitcardy

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Recently, Gift cards, Bitcoin and cash app has proven to be good alternatives for cashing out money fast. Unlike other methods, no middle man is involved, no waiting for days before funds reflect. In this article, we will discuss how to sell cash app, gift cards and bitcoin for cash online at high rate in Nigeria and get paid into your bank account.


Before we proceed, let’s discuss some challenges you may encounter when selling cash app, gift cards and bitcoin for cash in Nigeria, these are:


Getting ripped of your card

Losing cash app, gift cards and bitcoin to rippers can be very painful, the facts is that rippers or scammers are all over the internet thus anyone could become a victim.
Bitcardy.com is the recommended platform to trade cash app, gift cards and bitcoin securely in Nigeria and Ghana. They have proven to be trustworthy and reliable over the years and have earned the trust of over 50,000 customers and still counting.
Whenever you have gift card or bitcoin for sell just head to www.bitcardy.com and trade securely with peace of mind.

Why bitcardy.com is the best site to redeem gift card and sell bitcoin online in Nigeria.

Bitcardy is duly registered with the Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission. Bitcardy has proven to be trustworthy and reliable thus have earned the trust of over 50,000 customers and still counting.

Very fast and efficient service – Get paid in less than 10 minutes for your cash app, gift cards and bitcoin. Isn’t that amazing?

They buy at High Rates – You may realize that you have been losing some extra money to your previous buyer when you start trading with bitcardy. So why keep selling at low price when there’s a place to sell higher? Try bitcardy today!

How to get the best of your gifts cards?

 
Before requesting for gift cards, there are some important things you should know or else you’ll end up losing money.

The country: The most traded gift cards are US cards, thus most US gift cards have high value.

However, other countries like the UK, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Newzealand etc… have their own gift cards too but not all their gift cards are good.

For instance, you may find it difficult to sell UK iTunes card for naira  at the moment. So collecting UK iTunes card is not advisable now. At the same time, there are other UK gift cards with high rate and demand.
To get a list of highly demanded gift cards in  UK, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Newzealand etc… visit  www.bitcardy.com now.

The Card Rate: Cash app, gift cards and bitcoin prices ain’t stable. It’s important you stay updated.

Bitcardy has the best rates and they offer free daily price updates on WhatsApp and this helps their customers to know the best card to collect at any particular time.

To start selling your cash app, gift cards and bitcoin at high rates visit www.bitcardy.com now to get started

Contacts:

Website: www.bitcardy.com
Call/WhatsApp: 07045601175


Frequently asked questions

What is cash app

Cash app is a payment app that allows users to send money to friends and family or pay vendors and merchants.
This has grown beyond many digital payment platforms like PayPal or Perfect money, it makes users feel very secured while using it.

This is a very trending app in the United States and the UK, citizens can comfortably send money to another within the country without any fear or issues.

Nigerians have developed an interest in this app, only that we are restricted from using it, and is also difficult to have someone at the US send money to someone outside the US through Cash app.

But with bitcardy.com you are fully covered. We would provide you $cashtag and have your dollars transfer to our cash app, you show us Receipt generated for the transfer and receive your money in Naira immediately.

Bitcardy took all the lawful steps to make everything totally possible and secured to render a good service to you. Your payments are remitted immediately after confirmation.


What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency without a central bank or single administrator that can be sent from user to user on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network without the need for intermediaries.


How to sell bitcoin online in Nigeria?
There are many ways to sell bitcoin online in Nigeria. But you have to be careful when choosing where to sell your bitcoin because you may risk losing your bitcoin to rippers. www.bitcardy.com is the recommended site to sell your bitcoin online in Nigeria.

Convert bitcoin to Naira

Converting bitcoin to Naira is very easy now. The naira equivalent will be paid into your Nigerian bank account directly. Visit www.bitcardy.com to get started.

Sell bitcoin for cash in Nigeria

To sell bitcoin for cash in Nigeria and get paid immediately visit www.bitcardy.com It’s a legit and registered site to sell bitcoin for cash in Nigeria.

Best site to sell bitcoin in Nigeria

The best site to sell bitcoin in Nigeria is www.bitcardy.com. Their service is very fast and reliable.

How much is $100 bitcoin in naira?

The price of $50 $100 $500 $1000 etc. bitcoin varies from time to time. To know the current price today visit www.bitcardy.com


How to sell Amazon gift card online in Nigeria

There are many ways to sell Amazon gift card online in Nigeria. But you have to be careful when choosing where to sell your Amazon gift cards because you may risk losing your gift card to rippers. www.bitcardy.com is the recommended site to redeem Amazon gift cards online in Nigeria.

Sell Amazon gift card for cash in Nigeria

To sell Amazon gift card for cash in Nigeria and get paid immediately visit www.bitcardy.com It’s a legit and registered site to sell Amazon gift card for cash in Nigeria.

Best Site to sell Amazon gift card in Nigeria?

The best site to sell Amazon gift card in Nigeria is www.bitcardy.com. Their service is very fast and reliable. Amazon cash and Debit receipt are accepted.

How much is $100 Amazon gift card in naira?

The price of $25 $50 $100 etc. Amazon gift cards varies from time to time. To know the current price today visit www.bitcardy.com

Convert Amazon Gift cards to Naira or bitcoin

Converting Amazon gift card to Naira or bitcoin is very easy now. You will be paid into your Nigerian bank account directly. Visit www.bitcardy.com to get started.

How to sell iTunes gift card online in Nigeria

There are many ways to sell iTunes gift card online in Nigeria. But you have to be careful when choosing where to sell your iTunes gift cards because you may risk losing your gift card to rippers. www.bitcardy.com is the recommended site to redeem iTunes gift cards online in Nigeria.


Sell iTunes gift card for cash in Nigeria

To sell iTunes gift card for cash in Nigeria and get paid immediately visit www.bitcardy.com It’s a legit and registered site to sell iTunes gift card for cash in Nigeria

Best site to sell iTunes gift card in Nigeria

The best site to sell iTunes gift card in Nigeria
is www.bitcardy.com. Their service is very fast and reliable.
Convert iTunes gift card to Naira or bitcoin

Converting iTunes gift card to Naira or bitcoin is very easy now. You will be paid into your Nigerian bank account directly. Visit www.bitcardy.com to get started.

How much is $100 iTunes gift card in naira
The price of $25 $50 $100 etc.. iTunes gift cards varies from time to time. To know the current price today visit www.bitcardy.com


How to sell steam gift card online in Nigeria

There are many ways to sell steam gift card online in Nigeria. But you have to be careful when choosing where to sell your steam gift cards because you may risk losing your gift card to rippers. www.bitcardy.com is the recommended site to redeem steam gift cards online in Nigeria.

Convert steam gift card to Naira or bitcoin
Converting steam gift card to Naira or bitcoin is very easy now. You will be paid into your Nigerian bank account directly. Visit www.bitcardy.com to get started.

Sell steam gift card for cash in Nigeria
To sell steam gift card for cash in Nigeria and get paid immediately visit www.bitcardy.com It’s a legit and registered site to sell steam gift card for cash in Nigeria

Best site to sell steam gift card in Nigeria
The best site to sell steam gift card in Nigeria is www.bitcardy.com. Their service is very fast and reliable.

How much is $100 steam gift card in naira?
The price of $25 $50 $100 etc. steam gift cards varies from time to time. To know the current price today visit www.bitcardy.com


How to sell Google play gift card online in Nigeria
There are many ways to sell google play gift card online in Nigeria. But you have to be careful when choosing where to sell your google play gift cards because you may risk losing your gift card to rippers. www.bitcardy.com is the recommended site to redeem Google play gift cards online in Nigeria.

Convert Google play gift card to Naira or bitcoin
Converting google play gift card to Naira or bitcoin is very easy now. You will be paid into your Nigerian bank account directly. Visit www.bitcardy.com to get started.
Sell google play gift card for cash in Nigeria
To sell google play gift card for cash in Nigeria and get paid immediately visit www.bitcardy.com It’s a legit and registered site to sell google play gift card for cash in Nigeria

Best site to sell google gift card in Nigeria
The best site to sell google gift card in Nigeria is www.bitcardy.com. Their service is very fast and reliable.
How much is $100 Google play gift card in naira?
The price of $25 $50 $100 etc. google play gift cards varies from time to time. To know the current price today visit www.bitcardy.com

How to sell Nordstrom  gift card online in Nigeria
There are many ways to sell Nordstrom  gift card online in Nigeria. But you have to be careful when choosing where to sell your Nordstrom  gift cards because you may risk losing your gift card to rippers. www.bitcardy.com is the recommended site to redeem Nordstrom  gift cards online in Nigeria.
Convert Nordstrom  gift card to Naira or bitcoin
Converting Nordstrom  gift card to Naira or bitcoin is very easy now. You will be paid into your Nigerian bank account directly. Visit www.bitcardy.com to get started.

Sell Nordstrom  gift card for cash in Nigeria
To sell Nordstrom  gift card for cash in Nigeria and get paid immediately visit www.bitcardy.com It’s a legit and registered site to sell Nordstrom  gift card for cash in Nigeria
Best site to sell Nordstrom  gift card in Nigeria
The best site to sell Nordstrom  gift card in Nigeria is www.bitcardy.com. Their service is very fast and reliable.

How much is $100 Nordstrom  gift card in naira?
The price of $25 $50 $100 etc. Nordstrom  gift cards varies from time to time. To know the current price today visit www.bitcardy.com
How to sell Sephorah gift card online in Nigeria
There are many ways to sell Sephorah gift card online in Nigeria. But you have to be careful when choosing where to sell your Sephorah gift cards because you may risk losing your gift card to rippers. www.bitcardy.com is the recommended site to redeem Sephorah gift cards online in Nigeria.

Convert Sephorah gift card to Naira or bitcoin
Converting Sephorah gift card to Naira or bitcoin is very easy now. You will be paid into your Nigerian bank account directly. Visit www.bitcardy.com to get started.
Sell Sephorah gift card for cash in Nigeria
To sell Sephorah gift card for cash in Nigeria and get paid immediately visit www.bitcardy.com It’s a legit and registered site to sell Sephorah gift card for cash in Nigeria

Best site to sell Sephorah gift card in Nigeria
The best site to sell Sephorah gift card in Nigeria is www.bitcardy.com. Their service is very fast and reliable.
How much is $100 Sephorah gift card in naira?
The price of $25 $50 $100 etc. Sephorah gift cards varies from time to time. To know the current price today visit www.bitcardy.com
How to sell eBay gift card online in Nigeria

There are many ways to sell eBay gift card online in Nigeria. But you have to be careful when choosing where to sell your eBay gift cards because you may risk losing your gift card to rippers. www.bitcardy.com is the recommended site to redeem eBay gift cards online in Nigeria.
Convert eBay gift card to Naira or bitcoin
Converting eBay gift card to Naira or bitcoin is very easy now. You will be paid into your Nigerian bank account directly. Visit www.bitcardy.com to get started.

Sell eBay gift card for cash in Nigeria
To sell eBay gift card for cash in Nigeria and get paid immediately visit www.bitcardy.com It’s a legit and registered site to sell eBay gift card for cash in Nigeria
Best site to sell eBay gift card in Nigeria
The best site to sell eBay gift card in Nigeria is www.bitcardy.com. Their service is very fast and reliable.

How much is $100 eBay gift card in naira?
The price of $25 $50 $100 etc. eBay gift cards varies from time to time. To know the current price today visit www.bitcardy.com
How to sell vanilla gift card online in Nigeria
There are many ways to sell vanilla gift card online in Nigeria. But you have to be careful when choosing where to sell your vanilla gift cards because you may risk losing your gift card to rippers. www.bitcardy.com is the recommended site to redeem vanilla gift cards online in Nigeria.

Convert one vanilla gift card to Naira or bitcoin
Converting vanilla gift card to Naira or bitcoin is very easy now. You will be paid into your Nigerian bank account directly. Visit www.bitcardy.com to get started.
Sell vanilla gift card for cash in Nigeria
To sell vanilla gift card for cash in Nigeria and get paid immediately visit www.bitcardy.com It’s a legit and registered site to sell vanilla gift card for cash in Nigeria

Best site to sell vanilla gift card in Nigeria
The best site to sell vanilla gift card in Nigeria is www.bitcardy.com. Their service is very fast and reliable.
How much is $100 one vanilla gift card in naira?
The price of $25 $50 $100 etc. vanilla gift cards varies from time to time. To know the current price today visit www.bitcardy.com

How to sell Walmart gift card online in Nigeria
There are many ways to sell walmart gift card online in Nigeria. But you have to be careful when choosing where to sell your walmart gift cards because you may risk losing your gift card to rippers. www.bitcardy.com is the recommended site to redeem walmart gift cards online in Nigeria.
Convert Walmart gift card to Naira or bitcoin
Converting walmart gift card to Naira or bitcoin is very easy now. You will be paid into your Nigerian bank account directly. Visit www.bitcardy.com to get started.

Sell Walmart gift card for cash in Nigeria
To sell walmart gift card for cash in Nigeria and get paid immediately visit www.bitcardy.com It’s a legit and registered site to sell walmart gift card for cash in Nigeria
Best site to sell Walmart gift card in Nigeria
The best site to sell walmart gift card in Nigeria is www.bitcardy.com. Their service is very fast and reliable.

How much is $200 Walmart gift card in naira?
The price of $25 $50 $100 etc. walmart gift cards varies from time to time. To know the current price today visit www.bitcardy.com


How to sell American express gift card online in Nigeria
There are many ways to sell american express gift card online in Nigeria. But you have to be careful when choosing where to sell your american express gift cards because you may risk losing your gift card to rippers. www.bitcardy.com is the recommended site to redeem american express gift cards online in Nigeria.

Convert American express gift card to Naira or bitcoin
Converting american express gift card to Naira or bitcoin is very easy now. You will be paid into your Nigerian bank account directly. Visit www.bitcardy.com to get started.
Sell American express gift cards for cash in Nigeria
To sell american gift card for cash in Nigeria and get paid immediately visit www.bitcardy.com It’s a legit and registered site to sell offgamer gift card for cash in Nigeria

Best site to sell American express gift cards
The best site to sell american gift card in Nigeria is www.bitcardy.com. Their service is very fast and reliable.
How much is $100 American express gift card in naira?
The price of $25 $50 $100 etc. American Express gift cards varies from time to time. To know the current price today visit www.bitcardy.com

How to sell offgamer gift card online in Nigeria
There are many ways to sell offgamer gift card online in Nigeria. But you have to be careful when choosing where to sell your offgamer gift cards because you may risk losing your gift card to rippers. www.bitcardy.com is the recommended site to redeem offgamer gift cards online in Nigeria.
Convert offgamer gift card to Naira or bitcoin
Converting offgamer gift card to Naira or bitcoin is very easy now. You will be paid into your Nigerian bank account directly. Visit www.bitcardy.com to get started.

Sell offgamer gift card for cash in Nigeria
To sell offgamer gift card for cash in Nigeria and get paid immediately visit www.bitcardy.com It’s a legit and registered site to sell offgamer gift card for cash in Nigeria
Best site to sell offgamer gift card in Nigeria
The best site to sell offgamer gift card in Nigeria is www.bitcardy.com. Their service is very fast and reliable.

How much is $100 offgamer gift card in naira?
The price of $25 $50 $100 etc. offgamer gift cards varies from time to time. To know the current price today visit www.bitcardy.com
How to sell Apple store gift card online in Nigeria
There are many ways to sell apple gift card online in Nigeria. But you have to be careful when choosing where to sell your apple gift cards because you may risk losing your gift card to rippers. www.bitcardy.com is the recommended site to redeem apple store gift cards online in Nigeria.

Sell Apple store gift card for cash in Nigeria
To sell apple store gift card for cash in Nigeria and get paid immediately visit www.bitcardy.com It’s a legit and registered site to sell apple store gift card for cash in Nigeria
Best site to sell Apple store gift card in Nigeria
The best site to sell apple store gift card in Nigeria is www.bitcardy.com. Their service is very fast and reliable.

Convert Apple store gift card to Naira or bitcoin
Converting apple store gift card to Naira or bitcoin is very easy now. You will be paid into your Nigerian bank account directly. Visit www.bitcardy.com to get started.
How much is $500 Apple store gift card in naira?
The price of $25 $50 $100 etc. apple store gift cards varies from time to time. To know the current price today visit www.bitcardy.com

How to sell Nike gift card online in Nigeria
There are many ways to sell nike gift card online in Nigeria. But you have to be careful when choosing where to sell your nike gift cards because you may risk losing your gift card to rippers. www.bitcardy.com is the recommended site to redeem nike gift cards online in Nigeria.
Convert Nike gift card to Naira or bitcoin
Converting nike gift card to Naira or bitcoin is very easy now. You will be paid into your Nigerian bank account directly. Visit www.bitcardy.com to get started.

Sell Nike gift card for cash in Nigeria
To sell nike gift card for cash in Nigeria and get paid immediately visit www.bitcardy.com It’s a legit and registered site to sell nike gift card for cash in Nigeria
Best site to sell Nike gift card in Nigeria
The best site to sell nike gift card in Nigeria is www.bitcardy.com. Their service is very fast and reliable.

How much is $100 Nike gift card in naira?
The price of $25 $50 $100 etc. nike gift cards varies from time to time. To know the current price today visit www.bitcardy.com
How to sell bestbuy gift card in Nigeria
There are many ways to sell  bestbuy gift card online in Nigeria. But you have to be careful when choosing where to sell your bestbuy gift cards because you may risk losing your gift card to rippers. www.bitcardy.com is the recommended site to redeem bestbuy gift cards online in Nigeria.

Convert bestbuy gift card to Naira or bitcoin
Converting bestbuy gift card to Naira or bitcoin is very easy now. You will be paid into your Nigerian bank account directly. Visit www.bitcardy.com to get started.
Sell bestbuy gift card for cash in Nigeria

To sell bestbuy gift card for cash in Nigeria and get paid immediately visit www.bitcardy.com It’s a legit and registered

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Fraud: How Bankers’ Committee Covers up UBA’s Diversion of Customer’s N123m

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Wednesday, July 22,2020

The United Bank of Africa Plc allegedly fraudulently diverts N123 million belonging to Lloyds Energy Limited. Banker’s Committee recovers the money, pays it back to the bank which swallows it again, claiming the company is indebted to it thereby leaving the customer crying foul.

KENNEDY Uzorka, group managing director of United Bank of Africa, UBA, has reasons to be satisfied with the banks’ performance in 2017. UBA’s unaudited first-quarter results for the period ended March 30, 2017, shows the group recorded a profit after tax, PAT, of N22.4 billion, showing 32 per cent growth compared to N17.0 billion achieved in the corresponding period of 2016.   On Thursday, July 20, Uzorka met with the board of the UBA to present the egregious profit the bank made in the financial year ending June 30, 2017, and for the board to approve dividend for shareholders. No doubt, the board will be happy with the bank’s performance. But what is not clear is if the group managing director explained to the board how the UBA raked so much profit in what Uzorka described as a “competitive and a very challenging business environment

Realnews investigations uncovered the unsavoury ways through which the UBA makes its profit by cheating customers through diversion of their money and using the same money to offer them loan at high-interest rate. The worse part of it is that when customers complain the UBA threatens to deal with them. It also goes further to connive with the Bankers’ Committee to cover up its alleged fraudulent activities thereby leaving customers who take their cases to the committee in the first place out in the cold grieving their losses. As Realnews investigation uncovers, the bank uses its deep pocket to unleash security agencies against its highly aggrieved customers in a bid to intimidate and silence them and as a result, a lot of customers are afraid to fight the UBA octopus.

A case in point is the UBA’s sour relationships with Lloyds Energy Limited which had asked for facility from the UBA to enable it import 30,000MT of PMS under the Petroleum Subsidy Fund, PSF, scheme of the federal government and it was obliged with an offer of $25,945,107.48 for a year. In the course of the event, Llyods Energy detected some irregularities in the operation of the accounts with the bank and when contacted over the issue, the UBA rather than resolve same resorted to using Robert Ohuoha and Co, its solicitors, to harass and criminalise the management of Lloyds Energy through a letter dated 14/09/12.

The letter signed by Robert Ohuoha, counsel to the UBA, which is in possession of Realnews  states: “Be advised seriously that if you fail to pay this outstanding within 7 days of receipt of this letter, these following actions shall be taken against you: (1) Publish your names in the newspaper (2)EFCC shall arrest you and persecute you (3) confiscate your assets/properties (4) Send your name names to Credit Bureau of loan defaulters in accordance with the CBN directives to prevent you and your company from accessing loans from other banks.

Consequently, the management of Llyod Energy wrote the inspector general of police in a letter entitled: “Threat to Life and Properties by UBA PLC through Messrs Philips Oduoza and Rasheed Olaoluwa, the GMD and ED of United Bank of Nigeria, Respectively,” seeking protection. The letter dated July 3, 2013, signed by Vincent Ottaokpukpu, counsel to Barry Esimone, president of Lloyds Energy Limited, stated that since the UBA made the threat, his client “has not been at peace as he had continued to notice some strange movements around his vicinity both at home and office as his family members have continued to express fear of being harmed. Specifically, the letter humbly requested the inspector general of police to use “your good office to ensure that our clients life and properties which has been threatened by the bank is given the required protection both for him and his family members who are law abiding citizens of the country and ensure that all persons involved in the threat and any continued threat are investigated and brought to book.

Prior to the letter to the Police, Lloyds Energy had gone to the Bankers’ Committee to seek redress on the nefarious act of the UBA. It was while the Bankers’ Committee was adjudicating the case that the UBA also fled to court and the EFCC apparently in anticipation that the Bankers’ Committee ruling might not be in its favour. After going through the facts of the case between the UBA and Lloyds Energy, Bankers’ Committee found that the UBA actually diverted money from the accounts of Lloyds Energy Limited.

According to the letter of Bankers’ Committee Sub-Committee on Ethics and Professionalism to the president of Lloyds Energy Limited dated October 19, 2015, in the course of its investigation, it among other things observed that the UBA “applied a wrong rate in the purchase of funds on the transaction as admitted by the bank. The applicable rate on the date for the transaction should be the CBN effective rate of N158.62/$1 as against the interbank rate of N162.15. The bank had overcharged the petitioner to the tune of N53,172,903.37. They had agreed with the petitioner to the under charge of N29,097,846.47 on the interest and we support this as settled issue.” The committee’s letter, in possession of Realnews, also stated that the UBA admitted using wrong rate and reverted to the agreed rate.

Details of the Sub-committee’s findings revealed that the Lloyds Energy applied for the opening of the letter of credit through its letter dated 10 December, 2010, which was opened on 24 December, 2010. The Sub-Committee’s letter signed by Seye Awojobi, secretary, Sub-committee on Ethics and professionalism which was copied to the group managing director and chief executive of the UBA Plc after due considerations of the findings of its investigation made a 10-point decision.

It ruled that the UBA should refund the sum of N19,629,076.45 as agreed by both parties; refund the sum of N5,910,227.66 as agreed by both parties; refund N38,003,860.05 as agreed by both parties. Also, the UBA is to refund the excess of the overcharge of N53,172,903.37 due to application of wrong rate of exchange on the transaction and recoup the undercharge of N29,097,846.47 on interest; refund the sum of N24,075,056.90. UBA agreed to refund the sum of N26,310,611.54 as interest payment to the petitioner as agreed and refund the sum of N7,673,517.60 to the petitioner as agreed.

After thorough review of the various documents, the committee found that the invoice paid cover more than the L/C value. “While the petitioner is claiming repayment of a demurrage, there is no evidence of a formal request made to the bank that a demurrage was paid or payable. The invoice paid did not indicate any evidence of the inclusion of DEMURRAGE to confirm that the Bank paid demurrage as claimed by the petitioner. We could deduce that the price increase alluded to by the petitioner was the result of the increase in price of the product as shown in the final invoices submitted for payment to the Bank. There is no evidence of payment of demurrage, hence no refund is recommended.

“Consequently, the bank should refund the sum of N121,602,350.20 (N19,629,076.45+N5,910,227.66 +N38,003860.05+ N24,075,056.90 + N26,310611.54 + 7,673,517.60) to the Petitioner with interest at the prevailing Treasury Bills rates plus 2%p.a penal rate. This translates to N193,973,799.09, according to the attached computation,” the committee said

It was also ratified at the Bankers’ Committee meeting that the above sum (N193,973,799.09) should be credited into the petitioner’s account to reduce its indebtedness pending the resolution of the case in court and forward to the committee the credit advice and statements of account accordingly on or before November 20, 2015, in full and final settlement of the case.

After the rulings of the Banker’s Committee, Realnews learnt that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, deducted the sum from the UBA at source and still went ahead to pay the money into the Lloyds Energy Account with the UBA which the bank pounced on claiming that the company was indebted to it.

This prompted Lloyds Energy to write the Bankers’ Committee again requesting the sub-committee on Ethics and Professionalism to make categorical statements covering  the justification for N121,000,000 loan of established manipulations (by UBA Plc) of its account by N123,864,473.47 between 31/03/2011 and 30/01/2012 as the amount would have provided the credit balance to pay the PEF fee of N120,247,825.80 on February 3, 2012, when the transaction ended with the release of the SDN payable on that date. The company wanted to know justification for the UBA PLC to retain 27.5% compounding interest on the account of Lloyds Energy Limited which had been accruing in the customer accounts since February 3, 2012; the justification for the Sub-committee to continue to rely on the UBA Plc to pay the expected balance of N80,163,573.51 on its account if the bank had been professional in applying the various rulings and directives of the sub-committee.

Lloyds Energy stated that it had via several letters justified the basis of its claims and to its surprise the sub-committee had not made any pronouncement on it, perhaps, in anticipation that the UBA Plc would be honourable and professional in its dealings with the sub-committee. It pointed out that committee inadvertently omitted N2,262,124.10 in petitioner’s principal refund as pointed out in the letter dated October 27, 2015 and that such should be effected.

In UBA’s reply to the sub-committee, it stated that in compliance with its decision, the CBN had debited UBA. The bank had also written off all the debit balances outstanding after compliance, adding that after crediting Lloyds Energy Limited account with N102,595,315.95 on November 23, 2015, a debit balance of N1,084,690.47 was outstanding and grew to N2,311,097.73. The UBA said it wrote off this amount on October 2016, claiming it was transferred to a memorandum account. It also stated that after crediting Lloyds Energy Limited account with committee sanctioned amount of N91,378,483.14 on 30 September, 2016, a debit balance of N321,318,290.19 which grew to 329,318,202.55 was outstanding. The bank claimed that it wrote off this amount on October 4, 2016, as it was transferred to a memorandum account. Both accounts were nil, UBA said.

However, the Bankers’ Committee sub-committee in its final ruling conveyed to Lloyds Energy ignored its prayers. In its summary of findings, the sub-committee said that it reviewed its previous decision on the case on the workings of its technical team and observed that the petitioner had been refunded the total amount of the N193,973,799.09 based on its petition to the sub-committee. “Consequently, the sub-committee, had dwelt with the case and resolved the matter that brought the petitioner to the sub-committee which led to the realisation of the sum of N193.9 million from UBA as excess charges on account. After due consideration of the above, the sub-committee came to the conclusion that Lloyds Energy petition has been dealt with as conveyed in our letter with reference ODA/FMA/BUA/1288 dated October 19, 2015.

“Our investigation led to the refund of the sum of N193,973,799.09 (inclusive of interest) to Lloyds Energy Limited by United bank of Africa Plc. In the Light of the above, the Sub-committee sees no further basis to continue to adjudicate on the case given that your initial petition had been dealt with and refund made by the bank as directed by the sub-committee. Therefore the case is considered closed,” the letter to Lloyds Energy signed by Awojobi said.

It appears the Banker’s Committee is covering up for one of its own. For one thing, UBA’s group managing director is a member of the committee. Secondly, Lloyds Energy is still alleging foul play and that justice is yet to be served as can be seen in its letter to the sub-committee on March 6. 2017.

In the letter addressed to the registrar, Bankers’ Committee through Awojobi, Lloyds Energy stated that it only presented one petition on June 25, 2013, and did not know where the idea on “initial petition” the committee referred to in its decision suddenly came from. “We also did not appeal your decision on the total refund under their corresponding headings. All we said was that the statement produced after the purported credit refund does not represent our banking relationship with the UBA Plc.

“You will recall that we had vehemently protested to the Bankers’ Committee through various correspondences not to transfer the proceeds of the direct debit of N92,292,267.97 to UBA because it contained our balance in the sum of N80,163,573.51 as at the end of our transactions with UBA which we feared we would not be able to access from UBA considering their antecedent with our account. Despite our protest, Bankers’ Committee in its decision via letter dated 23 August, 2016, transferred the N92,292,267.97 to UBA with the assurance that “Lloyds Energy was free to come back to the sub-committee if UBA does anything unprofessional.”

“Expectedly, UBA, was highly unprofessional in applying the reversals and produced a zero balance account statement for us. We immediately came back to the sub-committee and complained that the statement produced for us does not reflect our relationship with UBA, and presented our version of what our statement should look like. We thought the Sub-committee would ask UBA to react to our position and justify their zero balance position ostensibly arrived at by fathom ‘write-off’. All we got is the recent letter of the sub-committee informing us the matter had been closed without addressing our prayers especially the status of the purported ‘loan’ and the attendant spurious interest accumulation on our account. The narrative on the account should be called what it is: Reversal/Cancellation of wrong debits and not write-off!” Lloyds Energy said.

According to the company, the sub-committee’s conclusion also ignored the outcome of its “investigative Technical Panel held on December 7, 2016, that established UBA’s reckless and unprofessional management of the relationship, when it concluded that the IFF term has sufficient room for the payment of the PEF without additional loan. Additionally this account reconciliation process also unequivocally established that a total illegal debit on our account of N123,864,474.30 occurred before the N120,247,825.80 PEF payment request date! The loan and the accrued interest therefore NEVER existed. We have been vindicated in our persistent claim that the ‘loan’ was forced on us,” it said.

The company said that “UBA’s claim of voluntary application and acceptance of the loan by Lloyds Energy, as their reason for retaining the loan and the ‘interest’ cannot be further from the truth, considering our reluctance UBA insisted, in writing, that we did not have sufficient funds for the PEF payment and that a loan application was the only way the payment could be made. This was pure blackmail!”

Lloyds Energy reminded the sub-committee that the magnitude of injustice it has suffered from the UBA on the issue in the last four years which could not be wished away. “This is a bank that demonstrated the highest degree of unprofessionalism by diverting to itself, without justification, the whopping sum of $233,500.61 from our account in one of the instances. We do not think that asking for our balance is an additional petition. All we have said were issues that would eventually be faced by UBA in producing our statement and do not amount to additional petition. We also maintain that our balance is not ZERO as presented by UBA. This is to put the records straight.” it said.

The Lloyds Energy letter which was signed by Esimone was copied to Yinka Adeola, chairman, Bankers’ Committee on Ethics and professionalism; Prof. Segun Ajibola, president, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Umma Dutse, director, Consumer Protection Department, CBN; Godwin Emefiele, governor, CBN; Umaru Ibrahim, managing director, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC; Kennedy Uzorka, group managing director, UBA Plc, and Tony Elumelu, chairman of UBA Plc.

It highlighted that the approved refunds of the sum of N2,262,124.10 which UBA expressly admitted but was inadvertently omitted by the Sub-committee in its computation and consequently, was not added. “By extension, this amount could not enjoy the interest and penalty which other debits enjoyed. This would have amounted to N1,186,984.95 and in total become N3,449,109.05,” it said, stressing that the company pointed this out repeatedly in its various correspondence with the Sub-committee.

Also, Lloyds Energy said that the credit of N102,478,852.97 and N91,378,481.14 by the UBA were applied by the bank at the dates convenient to it and not as directed by the committee, a fact which it pointed out severally to the committee.  “The soft landing ‘write-off’ of the residual balances on our accounts was a unilateral decision by UBA, apparently to escape producing the correct statement of account of the customer. Unfortunately, nobody has directed UBA to justify the zero balance position till date,” it said.

Based on the facts presented, Esimone argued that the “closure of this case in this matter will only protect and promote injustice, illegality and criminality in the banking industry and the destruction of the entire values of the banking profession. Also, the decision will mean that UBA misappropriated/diverted our money; the money was recovered by the Bankers’ Committee and was given back to UBA. This is what has happened to Lloyds Energy Limited as all its principal, interest refunds and penal charges have been given to UBA and the customer, a zero balance. We do not believe the Bankers’ Committee should stand for this act of impunity. We have also justified the calculation of our expected balance.”

Consequently, he reiterated that the statements produced for his company did not reflect its relationship with the UBA and that its balance was the sum of N90,712,770.73 as at 31 January, 2017 (which is still accruing interest) was trapped in UBA and should be transferred to its account earlier advised.

“We believe that the Bankers’ Committee can still resolve this problem especially when monumental misappropriation of funds, account manipulation and injustice are involved like our case, in order for the committee not to be seen as condoning these acts of unprofessionalism and criminality at a time our banks are operating globally and the Institute is show casing the nation and the banking industry by hosting the 22nd World Conference of banking Institutes,” Esimone said.

Contacted, Nasir Ramon, spokesperson of the UBA Plc, admitted that Lloyds Energy Limited is a customer of the bank and that there was an infraction on its account with the UBA. According to him, “the company petitioned the Bankers Committee (Sub-committee on Ethics & Professionalism) on alleged excess charges on its accounts and demanded for refund of N502.07Million from the bank.

“The complaints were investigated and discussions were held with the customer (and his consultants), but due to inability of all the parties to reach a consensus, the Sub-Committee stepped in and mediated on the case. After their review, the Sub-Committee ruled that the bank should refund the total sum of N193.97Million to the customer’s account. This amount comprised of total excess charges of N121.6Million plus penal interest ofN72.37Million.

“The total refund of N193.97Million has been credited to the customer’s account” he said, adding that: “Part of the sub-committee ruling was that the recommended refund should be credited into the Petitioner’s account to reduce its indebtedness pending the resolution of the case in court. Hence the total refund ofN193.97Million was credited to the customer’s account with UBA.

“Since the account was in debit, the fund was used to reduce the company’s liability to the bank, hence the reason the refund was not made available to the customer as he has alleged. No money was diverted by the bank as alleged,” Ramon said.

He said further that: “The customer later approached the Bankers’ committee that the refund should be backdated to Jan 2012 when the infraction occurred. With the backdating, the customer would not have requested for a certain loan of N121million that created the debit in the account in the first place. The request was turned down as the committee ruled that penal interest had been awarded to the customer, which was to compensate for loss attributable to the overcharge by the bank.”

Besides, he said that UBA sued the customer for recovery of the outstanding balance in the account. “This case is still in court. He was never threatened by the bank using the court or EFCC as alleged by you.”

Contrarily, we found out that the UBA Plc petitioned the EFCC alleging fraudulent and criminal diversion of N121 loan given to Lloyds Energy. Also, UBA Plc filed suit No: FHC/L/CS/886/2014 at Federal High Court for recovery of delinquent debit against Lloyds Energy Limited and Engr. Barry Esimone.

“In the petition to EFCC, we were invited by EFCC on May 17, 2013, made our representations and cooperated with investigation as directed by EFCC. During the last conference between UBA Plc representative and us, the Commission confirmed that the debit of N121m was transferred to PPPRA Account in line with the IFF term and therefore amounted to no diversion. All CIBN proceeding have been forwarded to the Commission. Yet UBA Plc did not inform EFCC that they have made refunds base on CIBN mediation,” Esimone told us.

On the Federal High Court, FHC, Case, “we filed our statement of defense immediately we were served, but the case is yet to be heard since 2014 till date due to frequent request by UBA Plc for adjournments. The last two attracted severe rebuke by the presiding judge and awarded costs against UBA Plc,” Esimone said. The next adjourned date for the case is Nov 2, 2017.

On prejudice, the UBA Plc is actually the party to worry, he said adding: “while the matter was subsisting in court and yet to be heard, and the CIBN administrative mediation found the bank guilty of infractions and ordered UBA to make refunds, the bank went ahead to publish our names in two national dailies as debtors and also sent the names to Credit Bureau, when we have not be found guilty in any of the platform the matter was being considered. Our statement of defence and counter claim were properly filed and served on the bank.”

On the insinuation that the matter in court is for recovery of balance on account after crediting the judgment debt, Esimone said nothing could be further from the truth. “UBA has been in court before refunds were ordered by CIBN and no amendment of claim has been served on us, therefore it is not true that the balance is what UBA is seeking to recover in court. The suit  was filed in 2014, while refund was ordered in 2015.

“It is important to note that Lloyds Energy Limited and Engr. Barry Esimone have maintained due process of Law in pursuing their right in spite of the obvious determination of UBA Plc to use their resource weight, connection and devious machination to destroy our entrepreneurial programme. We will stop at nothing in extracting justice in this matter using all legal means available to us in law and in equity. If a bank will commit infractions from one customer in excess of N123 million, in about 18months of relationship, then what other customers are suffering in their hand is better imagined.

We shall, at appropriate time unleash to the world, an avalanche of documentary evidence gathered during this process on UBA Plc.’s modus operandi.  The divine law of God and Nigerian Law are our source of strength. The biblical case of David Vs Goliath Shall Prevail because one with God is majority,” Lloyds Energy said in a reply to email from Realnews seeking its reaction to UBA’s allegation against it.

Contacted, Awojobi said he has been on a two-week vacation and would not comment on a case that is in court.

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UK-China relations: from ‘golden era’ to the deep freeze

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n the autumn of 2015, on a mission to Beijing that would pave the way for President Xi Jinping’s triumphal state visit to the UK that October, George Osborne employed a phrase that has come to haunt Sino-British relations. Looking to the future, the then chancellor hailed what he predicted would be a “golden decade”.

It was a time when Britain basked in Beijing’s favour. Six months previously, and despite strong US misgivings, the UK had become the first G7 member to sign up to China’s new competitor to the World Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

That summer, as trans-Pacific tensions flared over such issues as China’s military build-up in the South China Sea, cyber-hacking and devaluation of the renminbi, officials said David Cameron’s Conservative government remained stubbornly “chillaxed”. In Washington there were rumblings about Britain’s “constant accommodation” of China.
Now Mr Osborne, surrounded by delegates from some of Britain’s most powerful companies, was in China to collect the pay-off in the form of inward investment.

On his shopping list was support for his pet project, the Northern Powerhouse, an investment programme designed to regenerate some of the depressed ex-industrial areas of the north of England. But there were plums too for China, such as the opportunity to participate in the UK’s new nuclear programme, ultimately by building a Chinese-designed reactor at Bradwell in Essex.

“No economy in the west,” Mr Osborne declared, “is as open to Chinese investment as the UK.”

Five years later, little remains of Mr Osborne’s glittering vision. Despite its straitened finances, the political shock of Brexit and a consequent need for global trade and investment every bit as urgent as Mr Osborne’s, Boris Johnson’s government is taking a much harder look at China.

After months of speculation, and not a little pressure from allies, led by the US, ministers are expected on Tuesday to ban the Chinese tech champion Huawei from participating in Britain’s 5G mobile networks on security grounds. Public opinion is supportive: according to a recent opinion poll, 83 per of those asked said they distrusted China. Many opponents now believe the proposed flagship nuclear investment will also be blocked.

Bilateral relations, meanwhile, have descended into the freezer. Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to Britain, warned last week that the UK would “have to bear the consequences” if it treated China “as an enemy”. Trade would suffer if Huawei were excluded from selling its equipment.

This came in addition to disputes over Hong Kong, and China’s introduction of a new security law in the former UK colony, seen by Britain as breaching the “one country, two systems” arrangement applied to the territory since the 1997 handover. Britain’s riposte, offering a “path to citizenship” for up to 3m Hong Kong citizens holding British National Overseas passports, was described by Mr Liu as “a gross interference in China’s internal affairs”.

Britain is not alone in seeking to recalibrate its relationship with Mr Xi’s China. Beijing’s more assertive approach to international affairs has startled governments around the world, impelling them to reappraise their ties with the country — from Australia and Japan to Germany.

But the switch is particularly uncomfortable for the UK. Not only did the government raise higher hopes than most about the potential benefits of closer ties with China, but as it sets out to build its post-Brexit future, many think it is in a weaker position to spurn the fastest growing major economy in the world.

Trashing policy

The widening row with Beijing alarms those once-influential voices that continue to champion engagement. According to Jim O’Neill, a former Treasury minister under Mr Cameron and one of the architects of the Northern Powerhouse strategy, the “impetus to cut ourselves off from China seems to me a bit like the weird self-imposed dilemmas that drove Brexit”.

He sees it as trashing a policy that has delivered significant economic gains, tripling Britain’s exports to China in the decade to 2018, and securing twice as much Chinese investment as the next European recipient. “If you think about Britain’s economic future, you have to think which parts of the world are going to be relevant. If we are too influenced by the US — especially given American competition with China — it doesn’t make sense,” Lord O’Neill says.

Critics argue that not only were many of these gains illusory, but they came at a cost in terms of dismaying Britain’s allies and weakening its security. Indeed, the entire Cameron-era policy betrayed a wholesale misunderstanding of China’s assertive direction under the leadership of Mr Xi. “It’s been called the golden era, but I prefer to call it the ‘golden error’,” says Charles Parton, a former diplomat and China expert.

His views are shared by Nigel Inkster, director of transnational threats and political risk at the International Institute of Strategic Studies and former deputy chief of Britain’s MI6. “There was a misapprehension and a lot of wishful thinking about what China really was,” he says.

A Foreign Office strategy paper from 2009 talked about the idea of Britain using its status as a partner to push messages on human rights and internal reforms. The then foreign secretary, Labour’s David Miliband, said these were “integral” to the approach.

Soon after, Downing Street officials decided that ethics would muddy the sales pitch. The message was rammed home firmly when UK ministers met the Dalai Lama in 2011. An irate Beijing put London into diplomatic limbo for a year.
China, however, has not been so reticent about aggressively pushing its interests. One example is in higher education, where Beijing has exploited the UK sector’s growing dependence on Chinese students for revenue.

According to research from Onward, a think-tank, at least 16 universities — including Imperial College and University College London, as well as Manchester — receive more than a fifth of their student income from Chinese sources.

China also tries to use its influence in education to protect itself from criticism. Testimony to a UK parliamentary select committee in January 2019 describes how the Chinese embassy threatened to cut off the flow of Chinese students — and cash — to Oxford university unless the vice-chancellor, Louise Richardson, stopped Chris Patten, the chancellor and a former Hong Kong governor, from visiting the ex-British colony. She refused.

Collaboration in education has also become more sensitive since Chinese companies and state bodies reportedly began commissioning academics to do research which may have security implications. Three international academics specialising in military technology and AI academics looked at 17 research papers funded by Huawei. Of these 15 were deemed to have possible military applications, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph. Huawei disputes the analysis, claiming these were “common areas of research for telecoms suppliers”.

Mr Parton, now an adviser to the UK parliament’s foreign affairs committee, is not surprised that Beijing is taking a more confrontational tone. Under the chairmanship of Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, the committee has been highly critical of the UK’s China policy. Along with the newly created China Research Group, which has 20 Tory MPs on its steering committee, it has led the charge in putting pressure on Mr Johnson to change tack.

“The problem is not that Britain has the wrong policy,” he says. “We don’t really have one at all.”’

The British approach has rested in part on the hope that Beijing would open itself progressively to western goods and influences. However, over the past decade, the government has been faced with growing evidence that China was actually moving in the opposite direction.

On the political front, the limited space that once existed for legal activists and non-governmental groups has eroded, especially since Mr Xi took power in 2013, while the media has become even more tightly-controlled.

The direction of industrial policy has also reduced the space for foreign companies in the Chinese economy. There was dismay in western capitals when in 2015 Beijing launched its “Made in China 2025” strategy, which aims to secure Chinese dominance in 10 high-tech sectors.

A recent study by the Henry Jackson Society, a think-tank, found that the UK was “strategically dependent” on China for 229 out of 831 categories of traded goods. This is defined as a situation where the country both imports more than 50 per cent of its supplies from China and Beijing controls more than 30 per cent of the global market for that good.

Dawning of a new era

For the Cameron administration, the pay-off was supposed to come in the form of Chinese investment. Beijing would also open its financial doors, offering the City of London access to a huge new market. But those hopes have dwindled. While China has snapped up UK assets, investing almost $80bn since 2010, around two-thirds of these acquisitions have been in finance and low tech sectors such as property and logistics. Meanwhile, high profile ventures such as the Sino-British stock connect system, a mechanism that allows UK-based investors access to trade in large Chinese stocks, has fizzled. Only two companies have listed on it since it launched last year.

A recent paper from Beijing-based US economist Michael Pettis raised doubts about the value of Chinese direct investment. Unlike Japan, which brought with it sophisticated manufacturing knowhow when it invested in British car plants in the 1980s, China has little but cash to offer.

“Chinese businesses are unlikely to bring technological or managerial advances that can improve the productivity of British economic activity or that can change the orientation of British industry,” Mr Pettis wrote.

The reality is that most of the technology flows are in the opposite direction. China’s thirst for high-tech UK companies, such as when it backed the acquisition of chipmaker Imagination Technologies in 2017, has prompted demands for a tougher process for vetting not only foreign investments but Chinese involvement in scientific research.

Sceptics claim this is not simply a question of security: Beijing’s reluctance to give western technology companies free access to its own markets gives Chinese companies an unfair advantage in bidding for western assets. More recently, concerns have been sharpened by the Covid-19 downturn and the possibility of Chinese enterprises snapping up distressed UK businesses.

“In a downturn, the difference between state-backed credit and the buying power of normal commercial investors will become starker, further strengthening the hand of state-owned enterprises,” says Mr Tugendhat.

Diplomatic doghouse

Some sceptics say there will be little cost in taking a tougher line with China. “Beijing still needs western knowhow, and access to financial markets,” says one China watcher. “And are they really going to take on the Chinese middle classes who want to send their children to study in English-speaking universities abroad?”
Mr Parton points to past spats between China and countries such as Norway, which incurred Beijing’s wrath by giving a Nobel Prize to dissident Liu Xiaobo, or South Korea, which was punished for installing a sophisticated air defence system. “Overall exports to China rose in every year in which these countries were in the diplomatic doghouse, although individual companies and sectors did suffer,” he adds.

This ignores the legacy of Britain’s involvement in Hong Kong, which has left the UK with considerable commercial and financial interests. HSBC and Standard Chartered are dependent on the former colony for a large part of their profits. Both have been quick to say they support the new national security law.

Having welcomed Chinese businesses into strategic sectors of its economy, Britain faces awkward decisions over how and where to “decouple”. The Huawei case has exposed the government’s lack of a clear strategy in pulling back.
One problem for Mr Johnson with telecoms was the absence of a ready alternative to the Chinese group’s technology, and the fact that UK operators had already installed 3G and 4G Huawei kit. An ad hoc attempt to restrict the Chinese firm to “non-core” parts of the network with a maximum of 35 per cent participation is expected to be replaced by an outright ban.

Other legacies of the “golden era” may prove no less strewn with potholes. Take nuclear power, where Mr Cameron signed an official communique with Beijing in 2014 affirming a policy of so-called “progressive entry”. That meant that if the Chinese nuclear operator CGN helped back the Hinkley Point project, acquired consented sites and developed technology that passed muster with UK regulators, it would be free to build a plant.

CGN is well on the way to meeting these criteria. “The [UK] can always pull the plug if it really wants to,” says a consultant with knowledge of the process. “But having laid out a path for the Chinese to follow, Beijing would justifiably see it as an act of bad faith.”

All of which has raised worries among pro-engagement voices that Britain is being dragged needlessly into a conflict with Beijing. “We’re drifting into a trade war, while dressing it up as a security issue,” says Lord O’Neill.

In Mr Cameron’s time, he and Mr Osborne took security concerns with a pinch of salt. But the pendulum has now swung in the opposite direction. “We have moved on from saying ‘we can all make lots of money so off we go to the bank’,” says one diplomatic official.

But businessmen point to Britain’s struggling economy, weakened by the prolonged coronavirus lockdown and the uncertainties of Brexit, and ask whether the country can afford its newly-rediscovered principles.

“If we are going to cut ourselves off from our privileged access to the European market and if we recognise that the US economy operates in quite a protectionist way, are we going also to isolate ourselves from China, the biggest source of growth in the world?” asks Peter Mandelson, a former cabinet minister who now heads the Great Britain-China Centre. “Where are we going to make a living?”

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