Indications emerged last week that construction industry and mortgage firms may have jerked up investment opportunities in the new financial year, following positive returns on investments release last week by notable firms in the stock market.

In fact, it was revealed that construction, mortgage, building material and even pension administrators had good yield signs from investments made in the past year.

For instance, major construction and building sector operators like Julius Berger Nigeria, Ashaka Cement, and Abbey Building Society, offered shareholders additional dividend, while Director-General, Pension Commission (Pencom), Alhaji Muhammad Ahmed, has said that about eight per cent of pensions assets has been invested in real estate.

Particularly, construction giant, Julius Berger Nigeria, which will hold its annual general meeting in Abuja on July 8, is seeking the approval of the company’s shareholders for a proposed dividend of 200 kobo for every share to its shareholders.  While the board of building materials’ Ashaka Cement, as well as that of a leading primary mortgage institution, Abbey Building Society also offered their shareholders a dividend of 30 kobo, and 5 kobo respectively.

In an announcement released by the management of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), payment date for Abbey Building Society is July 27, 2011; Ashaka Cement is July 28, this year.

Similarly, Director-General, Pension Commission (Pencom), Alhaji Muhammad Ahmed, has said about eight per cent of pension’s assets has been invested in real estate.

He made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

“As at today, only eight per cent of the pension assets are invested in real estate and these are indeed legacy assets. They were assets that had been invested before the pension reform took off.

“For now, pension assets can only be invested in intermediary assets; in other words we cannot invest directly on housing development or any other commercial real estate development.’’

Ahmed said the Commission restricted itself to real estate investment trust or mortgage bank securities because it believed that the market was not fully developed.

He said it would help the Commission to invest sensible aspects of pension assets if the Federal Government implemented the recommendations of the World Bank document for financial system strategy 2020 fully.

The DG added: “The fixed income market is quite challenging, especially the corporate governance and corporate bonds.

“As at today, only 3 per cent of the pension assets are invested in corporate bonds.’’

Ahmed said that the process and initiative to improve the corporate bond market had been slow, adding that a committee was set up on it, but most of the issues were yet to be solved.

He said though the commission had 35 per cent allocation for corporate bonds, only 3 per cent had been taken up by pensioners.

“We hope that by the time the issues identified in this book are implemented, we may have emerged as a vibrant corporate bond market,’’ he said.

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Source: The Guardian