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About bankelele

Writing on banking, finance and investments in East Africa. Email bankelele_at_hotmail.com, Instagram: Bankelele, Twitter: @Bankelele.

M&A Moment: November 2019

A roundup of East Africa merger deals announced, ongoing, or completed in the latter half of the year 2019. Most are drawn from approval decisions from the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK Kenya).

The deals include:

Airline/ Oil/Energy/Mining M&A

  • The CAK authorized the proposed acquisition of 863,477 Series B preferred shares in Windgen Power USA Inc. by Omidyar Network Fund LLC, Acumen Fund Inc., Stitching DOB Equity and Microgrid Catalytic Capital Partners.
  • Rubis, having completed the takeover of Kenol, are now going after Gulf Energy, the fourth-largest fuel marketer in Kenya with 46 stations.
  • A bid by the owners of IberAfrica, Kenya’s largest thermal power producer, to sell the company to a South African energy firm has collapsed. Read more.

Banking and Finance: Finance, Law, & Insurance M&A

  • The CAK approved the proposed merger between Commercial Bank of Africa and NIC Group on condition that they retain 1,872 employees for a period of 12 months. Post-merger, the market share of the entity will be 10.67%, making it the country’s second-largest bank.
  • Equity Group entered a non-binding agreement with certain shareholders of Banqué Commerciale du Congo (BCDC), for the purchase for cash of a controlling equity stake in BCDC, with a view to eventually amalgamating the business of BCDC with that of EGH’s existing banking subsidiary in DRC, Equity Bank Congo.
  • The CAK approved the proposed acquisition of National Bank of Kenya by KCB Group on condition that 90% of the merged entity’s employees will be retained for a period of eighteen months.
  • Fund manager ICEA Lion Asset Management has signed an agreement to acquire Stanlib Kenya’s business of managing funds, assets and investment in Kenya – including the Fahari I-REIT – in a deal valued at Kshs 1.5 billion. 
  • The business of non-deposit taking micro-finance carried on by Kenya Ecumenical Church Loan Fund has been transferred to ECLOF Kenya. 
  • The CAK has authorized the proposed acquisition of 93.57% of  Transnational Bank Plc by Access Bank Plc.
  • Exim Bank Tanzania acquired UBL Bank, a subsidiary of Pakistan’s UBL Bank, as part of its plan to expand nationwide and become a top- five bank in the country. It now has assets of 1.7 trillion Tanzania shillings. 
  • In 2017 private equity firm Capitalworks acquired AON’s shareholding in several African operations, alongside local shareholders including governments in many markets.
  • I&M Holdings unit, GA insurance has acquired 100% of Nova Insurance Company in Uganda. It is part of GA’s plan to expand across East Africa where insurance penetration remains low. (via Kenyan Wall Street).

Agri-Business, Food & Beverage M&A

  • Coca-Cola Sabco (East Africa), which owned 72% of Nairobi Bottlers, has bought 27.6% of that company from Centum Investments, along with 53.9 % of Almasi Bottlers for a total of Kshs 19.2 billion. Centum states that the stakes had a combined value of Kshs 16.8 billion. CAK approved the deals on condition that it continues to operate current bottling plants in Nyeri, Eldoret, Nairobi, Molo and Kisumu for at least three years and retains 1,749 of the 1,760 permanent employees for the same period. Also that Almasi reserves 20% of the storage space in its coolers to SMEs for products (excluding products of Coca-Cola’s three largest global competitors). Coca Cola shall also allow Coastal Bottlers to distribute other non-alcoholic ready-to-drink brands.
  • The CAK approved Vivo Energy B.V.’s proposed investment in Kuku Foods which operates 24 outlets in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu and Nanyuki under franchise from America’s Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).
  • The CAK approved the proposed subscription of 33.9% and joint control of Maziwa by Pledge Holdco, which is wholly-owned by Texas Pacific Group (TPG). Maziwa is owned by Bainne and distributes of milk and milk-related products in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia under the brand name ‘Lola’.  The CA determined that the main players in the processed milk market, were Brookside Dairy (40%), New Kenya Co-operative Creameries, (25%), Sameer Agriculture (14%) and Githunguri Dairy Co-operatives (12%) while the merged entity will have a market share of 3.9%.
  • The CAK approved the acquisition of 100% of Aquamist Ltd by Aquapani Ltd. Aquapani is newly incorporated in Kenya as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Menengai for the sole purpose of this transaction. The deal is being done alongside Aquaplast which manufactures PET bottles, jars and closures and Polycarbonate plastics for refillable water containers mainly for the bottling business of Aquamist.
  • The CA-K approved an investment by Stitching DOB Equity and Acumen Fund into Coconut Holdings which had a turnover of Kshs 162 million in 2018. More here.
  • The CA-K approved the acquisition of 100% of Gilani Butchery by Upland Meat Products. Gilani had s turnover of Kshs 116.9 million in 2017.

Health and Medical, Pharmaceutical M&A

  • The CAK authorized the proposed acquisition of Honos Parent Ltd By Doctor No Parent Ltd
  • US pharmaceutical firm Johnson & Johnson has teamed up with private equity firms, South Africa’s Inqo Investments and London-based Sumerian Partners, to buy out Naivasha-based South Lake Medical Centre in a deal valued at nearly Kshs 100 million. The hospital was acquired from Flamingo Horticulture which had established the facility to serve its low-income farmworkers.  
  • Interswitch has acquired eClat, expanding its reach into Nigeria’s health-tech sector. The move is the latest in a series of strategic investments into Africa’s growing digital marketplace by the firm. Asoko has tracked 8 other deals in the Nigerian health care industry since 2015, of which the eClat deal is the second involving a health-tech firm. Investors were most active in the pharmaceutical segment, with three deals in that space over the period. (via Asoko
  • The CAK authorized the acquisition of 54.23% of AAR Health Care Holdings by Hospital Holdings Investments.

Logistics, Engineering, & Manufacturing M&A

  • The  CAK authorized the proposed acquisition of all ARM Kenya‘s (Under Administration) businesses, assets and properties by National Cement Company on condition that the merged entity ensures continued operation at ARM’s Kaloleni and Athi River plants and retains 95% of ARMs 1,100 employees.
  • The CAK authorized the proposed acquisition of the plastic manufacturing business of Metro Plastics (Kenya) by Metro Concepts East Africa on condition that the acquirer absorbs at least ninety employees.
  • CAK has authorized the proposed acquisition of control of Chemi & Cotex Kenya by Unilever Overseas Holdings B.V on condition that the acquirer continues providing the products (Whitedent, Bodyline, Baby Soft, Skin Glow, Siri, U & Me, Lovely, Barnister and Tressa) in the market for at least three years.
  • The CAK approved the proposed acquisition of an additional 47.5% shareholding in Speedex Logistics Ltd by Suresh Naran Varsani. The transaction will result in a change of ownership from joint to sole control.
  • The CA-K approved the acquisition of direct control by Tuffsteel in Hwan Sung Industries Kenya which has a turnover of Kshs 5.8 million in 2018.

Real Estate, Tourism, & Supermarkets M&A

  • The CAK approved the proposed acquisition of 100% of Quick Mart by Sokoni Retail Kenya, which is owned by Adenia Partners of Mauritius, a private equity fund manager. Quick Mart, incorporated in 2006, has 10 supermarket outlets located in Kiambu, Nairobi and Nakuru counties. In October 2018, Sokoni had acquired Tumaini Self Service, another retailer in Kenya with 13 outlets located in Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado, and Kisumu counties. EDIT Quickmart has recently undergone a merger with Tumaini Self service stores and the merged entity will be the third largest retailer in Kenya, backed by a strong institutional investor, with plans to open 6 stores over the next year.
  • The CAK approved the proposed acquisition, with controlling rights, of 22.32%  of the Riara Group of Schools by Actus Education Holdings AB. Riara operates six learning institutions in Kenya which offer the 8.4.4 and British Curriculum education systems. The CA found that of the schools offering British Curriculum, Braeburn Schools with 10.2% of the students, Aga Khan Academy 7.1%, Srimad Premier Academy 3.8%, and Oshwal Academy 3.4%. The CAK has approved the acquisition of 100% of the shares in Abercrombie & Kent Group of Companies by Heritour Ltd. One of Abercrombie’s Kenya subsidiaries is a tour operator that offers tourist accommodation in the Maasai Mara.

Telecommunications, Media & Publishing M&A

  • The CAK authorized the proposed acquisition of 100% shareholding in Eaton Towers Holdings by ATC Heston B.V 
  • BRCK has acquired the Surf Network. BRCKs Moja Network passed 300,000 unique monthly users in January, with 1,500 mobile nodes in buses and matatus across Nairobi and Kigali. The new acquisition takes them close to 500,000 active monthly unique users,  and they state this is the largest public Wi-Fi network in East Africa, and second-largest on the continent. 
  • Co-creation Hub (CcHUB), the leading technology innovation centre in Nigeria, acquired Kenya’s iHub for an undisclosed fee. The deal will see the iHub become part of the CcHUB’s network, while retaining its name and senior management structure.  The move comes seven months after CcHUB expanded into Rwanda, with the launch of its Design Lab. 
  • The Airtel-Telkom merger is still ongoing. Kenya’s Parliament has raised some queries about the transfer of government assets and shares as has the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. Rival Safaricom also stepped in and pressed for the two companies to settle a combined debt of Kshs 1.3 billion they are owed before the transfer is completed. They also argue that the merged entity will have an outsize frequency allocation (77.5 MHz of spectrum serving 17.3 million customers) compared to Safaricom (who serve 31.8 million customers with 57.5 MHz) and ask that this is rebalanced.
  • The CAK authorized the proposed acquisition of 100% of  De La Rue Kenya by HID Corporation on condition that all existing contracts De La Rue has with the Kenyan Government are honoured.
  • The CAK has authorized the proposed establishment of a joint venture and the acquisition of control of certain assets of Kul Graphics, The Rodwell Press, Printfast Kenya, Digital Hub and Colourprint by The Print Exchange on condition that the parties retain 100 permanent employees of the merger parties for a period of one year after completion of the transaction and the 72 contractual employees serve to the end of their contracts.  In May 2019, the directors of the six companies had announced plans to merge due to the printing industry’s price sensitivity and demands for new technological innovations that had created financial and operational challenges for them.
  • The CAK has approved the acquisition of 80% of iWayAfrica Kenya by Echotel International Proprietary. iWayAfrica Kenya provides a range of ICT services. The CA estimated market shares for the main providers of retail Internet access services to be Telkom Kenya (28%), Liquid Telecom (25%), Safaricom (14%), Internet Solutions (13%) and Simbanet (4%). iWayKenya is at 1.2% and Echotel at 0.6%.
  • It was announced this week that two of Tanzania’s best-known telecommunications companies – Tigo and Zantel – have completed there merger, combining their operations on both mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar. (via Arden Kitomari)
  • The CA-K approved the acquisition of direct control of Digital Packaging Innovation Holdings and A-One Plastics by Rifts Investments.
  • ScanGroup is set to sell two of its subsidiaries for more than Sh2.4 billion in a deal that was triggered by a related transaction involving its London-based parent company WPP Plc with Bain Capital. Read more.

Other M&A

  • The business carried on by Pa’shante Enterprises in Nairobi has been sold and transferred to Pashante Greens Africa.
  • The assets and inventory of Mapflex East Africa at Airport North Road will be transferred to Actiflex Ltd. 
  • The business of a barber and spa carried on Crystal Barber and Spa on Kiambu Road has been sold and transferred to Esther Kinya Guantai. 

Since the last update in January 2019

Guide to the Mexican Grand Prix

A guest post by Linda Kamau who has travelled from Nairobi to watch the Formula 1 Gran Premio De Mexico for two years in a row (2018 and 2019).

Getting there: For both trips, I have flown Emirates via Dubai and the USA. A ticket bought early will cost you between $1,200 – $1,500, but if you buy later, it may cost up to $2,500.

For both trips I have gone a week or two early and flown to Cancun then later got into Mexico City the weekend of the Grand Prix, flying on Interjet or JetBlue. In 2018 I did Nairobi – Dubai – New York – Mexico and in 2019, I did Nairobi – Dubai – Florida – Mexico. Using either of the flight legs will take a total of about 30 hours to get to Mexico.

For the visa, if you hold a valid US, UK or Japan visa then you do not need to apply for a Mexican visa. For both trips, I have not had to apply for a Mexican visa, as I hold five-year visas for both the UK and US.

As I always say, if you are transiting through JFK or Heathrow, ensure your flight connection is not less than 2 hours as the immigration queues can get quite long which might cause you to miss your flight.

Arriving at Benito Juárez International Airport, you are welcomed with images of F1 drivers just after baggage pickup. This is a circuit loved by many so there are a lot of people arriving for the race weekend, and immigration can take longer to clear.

An important thing to note, you have to fill in a landing card and once the immigration officer has stamped your passport, they give it back to you with a small part of the landing card that you will need to show when exiting the country. Losing it will cost you 300 Pesos, equivalent to $35.

Getting Around: Uber and Lyft are your friends here. They are way more affordable than regular taxis and can take cash too (Uber cash exists here). Mexico City is big, really big and it is not advisable to just walk around.

The local currency is called the Peso. The exchange rate versus the dollar averages at $1 = 18.10 pesos. Credit cards work but there is a general rule, to not withdraw money from just any ATM. If you have to withdraw, do it at an ATM in the bank. ATM fraud is rampant in Mexico.

Where to Stay: Due to how big the city is, traffic can be crazy. Therefore it is advisable to stay close to the race track (the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit) which is also close to the airport and can save you time for both going for the race and arriving and leaving Mexico city. In 2018, I used booking.com and stayed at Camino Real ($400 for 3 nights). But in 2019, because I was booking late, the same hotel now cost an arm and a leg. So I took a less expensive one – Hotel Hollywood Villas. The cost was $200 for 3 nights, and it was a ten-minute walk to the track.

What to Eat: Tacos, tacos and more tacos. Every corner you turn to, there is a restaurant selling tacos, other Mexican dishes and Tequila. I believe this is taken any time of day as there is no rule to Tequila, Mexicans just love their Tequila. I enjoy Mexican food so I did not get close to any McDonald’s or any other international restaurants, but they are in plenty.

Staying in Touch: As is my rule, immediately I land in a new country, I find the next SIM card store. Data/connectivity comes first even before that vital shower after a long trip. In Mexico, it’s advisable to get Telcel, it’s the largest network and very reliable. It will cost you about 20 pesos with 50 pesos airtime which totals to 70 pesos ($4). You can recharge at a store or you can do that online if you understand the Spanish on the Telcel web page.

Shopping & Sight-Seeing: In the city, you can go see Our Lady of Guadalupe, the largest Cathedral after the one in the Vatican. It’s quite a tourist attraction but also a great marvel of architecture.

With Mexico being so far away from Kenya, it would make sense to add in a vacation and see more of the coastal side. I have spent time in Cancun, Tulum and Playa Del Carmen and if I were to choose I would go back to Playa Del Carmen. It’s calm, less touristy and you are close to both the beach and city life. There is also the Chitchen Iza (pyramid ruins) and all the Cenotes (naturally occurring sinkholes) in the islands.

I did sample the nightlife in Mexico City with local friends I made after the 2018 GP. We are now F1 buddies, and we sync our trips and plan to attend the newly-added Grand Prix in Miami in 2021. We spent a night dancing salsa at a Cuban joint called Mama Rumba. It was fascinating to watch both the old and young dance – salsa is for all and so is the club.

Race Day: The race is at 1:10 p.m. but that is quite late for Kenya as it’s an 8- hour time difference – so adjust your body clock. It can get quite humid even though October is the rainy season in Mexico. It sometimes rains for an hour and then quickly goes back to being humid.

In 2018 I got a seat at the Grada 4 Grandstand; this is in the area where the cars make their second turn and you have a great view of most of the circuit including the Grandstand. The 2018 race saw Lewis Hamilton clinch his fifth title in Mexico and he did some spins in his Mercedes for the crowds after. Grada 4 gives you that thrill and also you get to enjoy the after-party as you can hear and see the DJ.

Race Tickets: For my first visit, I had bought my ticket on the F1 website which cost $460 for the 3-day package. On practice day I went to pick my ticket from the ticket station at the Circuit. It is advisable to attend on all the three days, as you get to familiarize yourself with the location of the track and especially which gate you will use to go in and which side of the circuit you will be sitting on during the race.

In 2019, my Mexican friends bought the tickets and we got to sit on the side where you see the cars as they start the race just before turn 1. It was nice to watch home crowd cheering Sergio Perez ‘Checo’ and he delivered his best race for his fans after a tight fight with Daniel Ricciardo.

In both of these Mexican Grand Prix races, Mercedes were not the favourites even though in 2018 Hamilton just needed to finish top-six to clinch the title, which he did. Ferrari’s strategy got the better of them again in 2019 and Hamilton took advantage and went on to win the race getting him closer to his sixth driver’s championship.

Also, see this other 2019 F1 race trip report – A Guide to Baku, Azerbaijan.

Digital Roadmap launched in Nairobi

The Pathways for Prosperity Commission launched a new Digital Roadmap report in Nairobi outlining steps that developing countries, especially in Africa, can follow to prepare for a future that will be vastly different thanks to rapid digital developments.

The Report outlines broad recommendations on issues like digital identity and payments while ensuring all citizens are included and have their rights protected. It emphasizes how physical infrastructure and connectivity are essential and how they are combined with continual educational processes to build flexible skills that young people can adapt to different careers of the future.

It encourages developing countries to come up with their own localized digital governance structures and not import these wholesale from developed countries. Collaboration should see all participants in government work with the private sector and civil society. Governments should break down silos, and also make rules that allow for technological innovation by not being too rigid. Also, of some relevance to Kenya, is the need to consider county governments in planning for a digital future.

“We have seen the impact of mobile money on Kenya, but in the digital ocean coming to hit Africa, mobile money is a toe in the water,” said Strive Masiyiwa (Econet) who, along with Melinda Gates (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), serves as a Co-Chair of the Pathway’s Commission

He added that the world was at another moment like it was at the start of the internet era, around 1995, and with artificial intelligence poised to add $16 trillion to the world economy, African countries should aim for a tenth of that and grow their continent’s GDP from its current $2.5 trillion. 

The Commission also launched a Digital Manifesto with 10 steps to transform economies. Some of the measures proposed include empowering all citizens, securing their data, developing digital identity & digital financial systems, providing social safety nets, and enabling investment environments suitable for different countries. New ways of finance include deploying pension funds as local venture capital, and nurturing patient angel capital groups such as the ones in Nigeria and South Africa that have sprung up to finance other young entrepreneurs. 

Countries also need to use technology to build resilience. One potential roadblock cited was the possibility that incumbent giants in different countries would use their governments to seek protection from new technologies.

Double 11 (Singles’ Day) Festival in China

November 11 marks a huge shopping festival by Alibaba in China. Known as “Singles’ Day” or “11.11”, it is now acknowledged as the largest e-commerce day in the world. It is mainly on Alibaba platforms like Tmall and Taobao. Rival commerce sites such as JD.com and Lazada also run their own festival days during China’s long shopping season.

Singles’ Day 2019 saw another record year of sales reaching $23 billion (158 billion yuan) in nine hours. Sales hit $1 billion in the first minute and 500 million shoppers were expected to participate. This was achieved despite a slowdown in China’s economy and the ongoing trade spat with the US. Singles’ Day is three times bigger than the largest US largest shopping day – Cyber Monday which had $8 billion of sales in 2018.

Some numbers about Singles’ Day from Jing Daily.

  • On 11.11, Alibaba sells more on one day than many countries do in a year.
  • Alibaba founder Jack Ma has a plan for the company to attain $1 trillion of gross merchandise volumes in 2020 and create 100 million jobs, and serve 2 billion customers. As such the company is expanding in other countries. In 2017, Russia, Hong Kong and the US were the main markets.
  • International brands are signing on with discounts and specials, and in 2018, 237 brands, including Apple, Estée Lauder, L’Oréal, Nestlé, Gap, Nike, and Adidas has sales of 100 million Yuan ($14 million) on Singles’ Day.
  • The holiday was originally aimed at young men (bachelors), but has now evolved such that key targets for brands include China’s 400 million millennials, the “aspirational class” and women, the “she economy.” 
  • Over 80% of the Singles’ Day sales are made on a mobile device .. so retailers need to enhance the whole shopping experience by employing unique mobile features like live streaming, interactive games, virtual reality, video marketing, and digital storytelling.
  • On Singles’ Day in 2017, 1.5 billion transactions were processed by Alibaba’s Alipay.

Other Notes:

Kenya’s Safaricom, which has a partnership with AliExpress, also had some Singles’ Day promotions. They signed a deal in March this year enabling Kenyans to shop on ALiExpress and pay with M-Pesa.

The Jack MA Foundation runs an annual Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) that awards a total of $1 million in prize money to ten African entrepreneurs each year.

Read more about 11.11 from Jing Daily here.

EDIT: Alibaba reported that Singles’ Day 2019 generated US $38.4 billion of gross merchandise volumes. It featured 200,000 brands and resulted in 1.3 billion delivery orders.

Banking Week: Interest caps go and Stawi starts

Interest-Caps: This week saw the end of the era of capping of interest rates, that was seen as a populist three-year experiment to reign in large banking-sector profits.

The Government had tried to repeal this, without success, several times over the last few years, and bankers and the IMF have also been vocal about the unintended, and detrimental effects of the caps, on the economy.

Parliament stuck to its guns to the last minute, making farcical attempts to keep the caps in place. But as only 161 MP’s were present to vote, they could not proceed to over-ride the President, as they needed 2/3 of Parliament to be present. While some lawmakers have in the past argued that this high constitutional threshold (of requiring a vote of 233 MP’s) gives the President power to make laws, this has been upheld by the Courts.

The caps did not stop the “super profits” at large banks, but they did weaken smaller banks by limiting their interest-income growth. In the interest capped era, large banks found shifted their lending lend to a national government with an insatiable borrowing appetite, as opposed to small businesses, and when these credit lines shut off, small banks were hit with a rise of non-performing loans.

Stawi: This week also saw the formal launch of Stawi after a pilot phase in which that 80,000 had signed up for this banking industry response to the mushrooming of unregulated loan apps.

Stawi aims to promote savings and lending for small businesses. It is a bank account, opened and operated on phone, and owners can move money through M-pesa (for a flat fee of Kshs 42) and Pesalink. Stawi is hosted by the Commercial Bank of Africa, and, like with its M-shwari product, banking services are only rendered on the app, not at branches.

Users of Stawi have to be registered and in business for six months. New users are encouraged to make Stawi their primary account and to channel transactions through it to get a borrowing limit.

On downloading the app, one is assigned a loan limit based on credit their credit history. Stawi offers unsecured loans of between (~$292) KSh30,000 to (~$2,432) KSh250,000 that can be repaid between one to twelve months at rates of 9% per year.