Barclays Kenya changes to Absa at the NSE

Barclays Bank of Kenya completed its transition journey to Absa this week with a confirmation of approval from the Central Bank of Kenya and the change over of its share ticker at the Nairobi Securities Exchange from BBK to Absa. 

This was the conclusion of a three-year journey that has seen Absa rebrand all Barclays operations across Africa under one name after Barclays had reduced its shareholding to under 15% and seen Barclays Africa renamed as the Absa Group.

Geoffrey Odundo the CEO of the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) said that Barclays was one of their key listed banking stocks and its shareholders had seen good returns with Barclays being the best performing bank share last year. The bank had also been a key partner that has helped the NSE with product development and  market development. 

James Ndegwa, Chairman of Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority, said Barclays, which traced its history in the Country to 1916 when the National Bank of South Africa opened a branch in Mombasa, had become the first commercial bank to offer shares to the public in a 1986. He called on the bank to float more shares as he said the NSE had struggled to attract new listings, with daily trading dominated by a few companies.

Jeremy Awori CEO of Absa Bank Kenya said that, as part of one of Africa largest financial groups, they aimed to connect the dreams and aspirations of Kenyans with the financial resources to achieve these. Aside from enhancing financing for SME’s and offering the country’s lowest mortgage rate of 11.75%, he said that Absa which had recently launched the first vertical (debit & credit) cards in Kenya and received a new license for asset management, would soon launch a chatbot, and an online toolkit for small business owners.

Other guests at the event that was held at the Nairobi Securities Exchange included Daniel Mminele, the new CEO of Absa Group, Peter Matlare, the Deputy CEO of Absa Group, and Charles Muchene, the Board Chairman of Absa Bank Kenya PLC.

On it’s debut, Absa Bank Kenya traded 126,800 shares to close at Kshs 13.25.

Antler Nairobi Demo Day

VC funder and startup accelerator Antler Global held a demonstration day yesterday in Nairobi where founders of four companies got to explain their practical solutions to existing challenges in the sectors of health, fintech, advertising and e-commerce.

The Singapore-founded Antler has offices in London, New York, Amsterdam and now Nairobi, among others. Antler aims to turn exceptional individuals into great company founders through networks of advisors and by providing funding to enable the building of strong teams to launch and scale ideas. They currently have a portfolio of 120 investee companies.

The four new ones in Nairobi are among fifteen companies that have received pre-seed funding of $100,000 from the Antler East Africa Fund. They are drawn from 1,250 individuals who applied to join the Nairobi program which started in August 2019. The Demo day talks were by:

  • AIfluence: an Artificial Intelligence-based platform that connects influencers with brands and measures the impact and ROI of their campaigns. The company has lined up additional funding and advertising deals with Tik Tok.
  • Anyi Health: Enable patients to apply for credit right at hospitals.
  • ChapChapGo: Aims to fix the broken supply chain of fast-moving consumer goods, in which 70% of trades are still informal – with these purchases happening in a 19thcentury system where people queue to buy, queue to pay and arrange their own delivery. The company aims to leverage on wholesalers through an app, and by using WhatsApp for customer service and sales, to deliver goods at prices that are up to 25% cheaper for consumers.
  • Digiduka: Enables kiosks and shops receiving cash from low-income buyers to also process digital payment on. Many kiosk merchants find mobile money payments too costly and make many trips a week to purchase goods and permits in cash. The company aims to have kiosks double their income by offering digital services that will see them earn 75% of the commission, with Digiduka keeping the 25%. The founders say that pilot has been viable, with a payback period for kiosk owners of one month.

Barclays Kenya now officially Absa Bank

Barclays, which has been in Kenya for 103 years has officially now transformed to Absa Group the culmination of a three-year journey of transition following the divestiture of Barclays PLC majority shareholding in the Barclays Africa Group.

Barclays remains as the largest shareholder in Absa which is present in 12 African countries, has 40,000 employees, and listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. The transition to Absa across Africa has seen the migration of hundreds of Barclays technology systems that were run from the UK to the continent, mainly in South Africa and Kenya. Absa Group now had a reprobative office in London with another soon in New York.

Absa owns 68.5% of Absa Bank Kenya PLC which is currently the fourth-largest bank in the country by assets. Absa Kenya, which is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange, has 63,000 shareholders who approved the name change to Absa at their AGM in May 2018.

The one-off cost of the Absa Kenya rebranding is being spread out over two years and through September 2019, had cost the bank Kshs 910 million. All 86 branches in 38 counties across Kenya are being rebranded in the new Absa bold red colours. This past weekend, the bank transitioned several customer channels, including internet banking, social media, mobile banking, SMS, and point of sale systems to reflect the Absa brand.

Barclays Life Assurance has also officially changed to Absa Life Assurance Kenya. It is ranked third, with a 10% share of the group life insurance market in the country.

Nairobi investment tips from Genghis for 2020

Genghis Capital has launched its 2020 investment playbook with the theme “harnessing value” after a year in which the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) all share-index had gained 18% compared to a loss of 18% in 2018. 

Top gaining shares in 2019 were led by Sameer Africa which rose 86%, then Equity Group 53%, Longhorn Publishers 46%, KCB 44% and Safaricom 42%. Shares on the bottom side were Kenya Airways which lost 77%, then Uchumi Supermarkets -63% and Mumias Sugar -43%. 

The playbook has a summary of 2019 whose gains were largely due to Safaricom and bank shares, and some of the year’s top deals which included the bank mergers of CBA & NIC and KCB & NBK. Other highlights of the year were the launch of derivative futures and the NSE Ibuka program which has uncovered some promising companies. It also notes the suspension of Mumias which joined Deacons and Athi River Mining as other shares in limbo. 

Outlook for 2020: The report includes a macroeconomic outlook for the country this year during which they expect aggressive domestic borrowing by the government, and the Kenya shilling to range between 100 – 104 against the US dollar. They have also factored in the possibility of another Kenya political referendum happening during 2020. 

Going forward, they expect that bank shares will do well, but that other equities will struggle this year. They look forward to the opportunity that derivatives have brought of diversification with lower trading costs but note that there is a need to have a market-maker to resolve some liquidity difficulties of trading derivatives.

They also note that the main shareholders at Unga and Express may try again to delist their company shares and take advantage of a new rule that reduces the takeover threshold requirement from being approval by 90% of shareholders to just 50%. Genghis also expect that the nationalization of Kenya Airways will be completed in 2020.  

Genghis picks and recommendations:

  • Momentum shares are Equity, EABL, KCB, Safaricom.
  • Income Shares are KCB, Barclays, Co-op Bank, Stanchart, KenGen.
  • Value shares are EABL KenGen, Kenya Re.
  • Buy (expect gains of more than 15%) EABL, Kengen, Kenya Re, KCB, NCBA, and Diamond Trust.
  • Hold (expect changes of between -15% to +14% over the next 12 months) Safaricom, Standard Chartered, Barclays, Equity, Cooperative, Stanbic, and I&M.  
  • Sell Recommendation: N/A

See last year’s picks by Genghis.

Stanbic economic briefing for Kenya 2020

Standard Bank (Stanbic) Group Kenya released their Macroeconomic update in which they are cautiously optimistic about Kenya’s growth through the private sector. The presentation in Nairobi was done by Jibran Qureishi, the Regional Economist – Africa at Stanbic.

Highlights:

  • Stanbic economists believe that global growth will fall in 2020 and 2021 as central banks in advanced economies are tapped out and their ability to stimulate economies is limited. Chinese growth will slow to sub 6% in 2020 and be about 5.5% in 2021. Meanwhile, the US cut its rates three times last year but investments are still falling as the trade war with China has hurt growth.  
  • For Kenya, Stanbic expects 5.9% GDP growth in 2020, up from 5.6% in 2019. Three things that held back private sector over the last two years were interest rate caps, delayed payments by government and congestion at the Inland Container Depot (ICD) Nairobi.
  • Government policies should focus on private-sector driven economic growth.
    There is growth but where are jobs? Growth in the wrong place.  90% of new jobs are the informal sector and also in the service sector but these will not create a middle-income economy.
  • Tourism was resilient, earning $1.5 billion last year, but the potential is much larger and this depends on how much private investment the sector can attract. Kenya gets 2 million arrivals but Mauritius, Morocco, Egypt and South Africa get about 10 million in bad years.
  • Ambitious tax revenue targets embolden the government to spend more and tax revenue targets are still much larger than average collections.
  • If the government does not fix fiscal issues, this will lead to unpredictable tax rules which could hamper productive sectors
  • A move back to concessionary loans and away from commercial loans for the first time since the (President) Kibaki years is a welcome step.
  • The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) may still get extended to Uganda but the government will have to build new ICD. It is not that China does not have money, but they are asking questions they should have asked 7-8 years ago.
  • Kenya traditional manufacturing has been an import-substitution model which has not really worked around the world. Better to shift from being protectionist and instead work towards growing exports which (excluding tea and remittances) have been stagnant – at $6 billion a year
  • Don’t focus on manufacturing too much and neglect agriculture, as a big part of that will come from agro-processing and adding value to agricultural produce.

Charles Mudiwa the CEO of Stanbic Kenya spoke of how the bank has aligned to the government’s agenda. They are a shareholder in the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company, and 20% of their lending goes to manufacturing with another 9% going to agriculture & food security.

Stanbic was the lead arranger for the Acorn green bond that was listed on London’s LSE today. The bank also has a DADA program to promote women financially (with a goal to lend Kshs 20 billion) and is also supporting financial literacy training to musicians and Uber drivers.