Category Archives: ABSA

Absa Kenya to pay an interim dividend for 2022

Absa Bank Kenya continued to show strong growth in a complex environment of macroeconomic challenges and high inflation. At the announcement of financial results for the first half of 2022 in Nairobi, Managing Director Jeremy Awori said the institution has transformed into a financial services giant with new offers in bank assurance, wealth management, risk management, research, and asset finance. These are all built around being a digital-first entity with products like Timiza which added 4 million accounts, leading to a five-fold growth in the number of customers they serve.

In the first half of the year, Absa Kenya had its fastest revenue growth in a decade with income growing by 17% to Kshs 20.9 billion and they recorded a pre-tax profit of Kshs 9.1 billion, a 15% increase. Loans were up 19% to Kshs 262 billion and deposits up 7% to Kshs 282 billion, and Absa Kenya assets are now Kshs 445 billion.

Absa Kenya’s Chief Strategy Officer Moses Muthui said that revenue was now growing faster than their peers in the banking industry and their strategy will be to stay relevant to customers by growing opportunities that offer sustainable and inclusive growth. Absa’s cost-to-income ratio is 42%, against a five-year target of 45% and this allows the bank to invest in areas to innovate for customers. As part of their next five-year strategic plan, starting from 2023, they will grow into other new businesses like asset management and consumer payments businesses such as diaspora remittance. They will re-enter the custody business that Barclays exited a decade ago to serve international clients as well expand their investment banking services across East Africa.

To give returns to investors and enhance shareholder value, Absa Bank Kenya will pay a Kshs 0.20 per share dividend, amounting to Kshs 1.09 billion, one of the few institutions that will pay an interim dividend. Already shareholders of the Nairobi-listed bank have one of the highest returns on equity at 23% and dividend yields.

EAPI Summit showcases African property opportunities

The 9th annual East Africa Property Investment (EAPI) Summit was staged in Nairobi this week after a two-year hiatus and brought together over 300 people who are involved in investments, the management and financing of commercial real estate and other property developments.

The break in between, occasioned by covid-19, did not result in a disruption of developments and construction. Indeed this week, the Nairobi Expressway was opened to the public by its operator Moja for the public to test.

The conference, with the theme of “renewed focus,” was sponsored by Absa who is one of the oldest bank groups in the country and one that is connecting with the property market. They are a founding shareholder of the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company.

Speakers at the EAPI Summit spoke of the great demand for light industrial, cold storage, manufacturing and warehousing infrastructure on the continent which is expected to become the fastest-growing consumer region in the world. There is an attraction to having small local manufacturing closer to the local markets as opposed to importing goods manufactured in far-off places like China, whose availability and distribution could be disrupted by global events. It was noted the facilities necessary to support e-commerce on the continent were still lacking, even after Covid-19 had accelerated the emergence of e-commerce at a pace and scale that had not been projected to happen for another decade.

Another area that was highlighted at the summit is affordable housing as different countries in East Africa countries have documented growing deficits of needed units. The gaps are driven by rapid urbanization estimated at 4% a year in the region and the governments of Tanzania Kenya and Rwanda have come up with regulatory changes to support affordable finance such as by introducing mortgage refinance programs to help reduce the costs of finance to homes, while banks like Absa are also making contributions to alleviate the problem. Speaking during the opening of the Summit, Jeremy Awori, the Absa Kenya Managing Director said the bank has advanced a total of Kshs 3.8 billion to Kenya’s National Housing Corporation, through a combination of direct lending and support to three affordable housing building projects being developed by the corporation.

Awori said real estate investors need to reinvent models to match the modern trends and needs of the local communities such as sectional ownership, multi-tenant shared spaces and converting under-utilised buildings into enthusiastic venues and the bank is ready to offer financing solutions. Many financial institutions, multinationals and NGOs have relocated their headquarters and offices to secondary business districts that were previously residential.

Elsewhere, a lot is happening in the hotel space. A few weeks after announcing they will close the iconic hotel in downtown Nairobi, Hilton used the EAPI summit to announce the opening of Kwetu, a new 100-room facility under the Curio brand that will be in the Westlands area later in 2022. It will be operated under their Curio brand. The EAPI summit was held at the Kempinski Hotel, in the shadow of the giant GTC complex, which opened in December 2021 and which was a co-sponsor of the summit as it seeks tenants for its adjacent properties.

Also at the Summit, Absa Kenya which was the first bank to subscribe to the principles of the Kenya Green Building Society, received an award from the International Finance Corporation for integrating green building technologies in its designs. The two-day EAPI event had 300 attendees in person, combined with a global broadcast of all the 30 sessions to 550 other virtual delegates in 35 countries.

Corporates Loving Golf

Historically, golf has been considered to be a costly sport in Kenya with difficulty in accessing equipment kits and membership clubs to play at. But now golf is enjoying increased corporate attention and bank sponsorships in the post-covid period. Some of these initiatives had begun in the period before the shutdowns in 2020, but the increased need for individuals to exercise in open spaces boosted more interest in hiking, cycling, jogging, and golfing. Golf clubs were previously seen to be losing touch with young people, and many of the new initiatives are designed to turn this around. 

Some ongoing corporate golf partnerships are:  

  • Kenya has been a multiple winner of Africa’s Best Golf Destination at the annual World Travel Awards and the Kenya Tourism Board is keen on using golf to promote tourism both by local and international travelers. Golf is played year-round in Kenya and the country has easy connections to other tourism facilities. KTB cites a consultancy research report that golf travelers spend 2.5x more than leisure travelers and stay for longer periods 
  • Absa Kenya has a long-running sponsorship of the Kenya Open Golf tournament which, with the support of the Government that aims to boost tourism into the country, is known as the Magical Kenya Open and is part of the European Tour. The 2022 edition tournament was played in March at the Muthaiga Club and was won, for the first time, by a Chinese golfer, Ashun Wu.
  • This year, Kenya Airways joined as a corporate partner and had aircraft fly past over Muthaiga on two days of the tournament and, as an official sponsor offered discounted rates to golfers and fans while ferrying in PGA officials working at the tournament. 
  • NCBA has the NCBA Golf Series with ten tournaments around the country that was in Kitale last week and will next be in Kampala, Uganda.  In 2021, the series had 13  tournaments that attracted 1,700 golfers. Some juniors golfers who participated won qualification to two international events – the Rome Classic (Italy) and the Big Five (South Africa).  
  •  The Safaricom Golf Tour has received sponsorship of Kshs 100 million, for a 14-leg tournament that will involve outreach to local communities and make the sport more accessible – it will rope in corporate and amateur players, juniors (play on Sundays), caddies (compete on Mondays) at the different legs. It aims to find new talent for the sport, especially young golfers, and winners of different legs will feature at the finale at Vipingo Ridge in August. The Vipingo Ridge course was launched in 2010 and continues to host several leading international golf tournaments. 
  • Also on the European Tour is the Magical Kenya Ladies Open which is played at the Vipingo course. The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) is the main sponsor of the tournament which this year featured 90 golfers from 25 countries. The tournament also got a Kshs 20 million sponsorship from Safaricom’s M-Pesa who held a junior golf clinic.
  • Crown Paints and Prime Bank are part sponsors of the US Kids Foundation golf series along with Safaricom and NCBA. The three-year program will be run through the Junior Golf Foundation (JGF) to promote golf development through the training of up to 40 coaches across the country and supports local golf tours to introduce more young people to the sport. It has held events at Limuru and Muthaiga and will have more at Karen and Royal (Nairobi) all leading to a finale at the Muthaiga Golf Club in May 2022.
  • Kenya Ports Authority will have tournaments in different cities of its operations – Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu. 
  • The Tannahill Shield one of the largest amateur golf tournaments in the country is ongoing at the Royal Nairobi Golf Club this Easter Weekend. It is sponsored by Jamii Telecom, Rentco and Chipper Cash, a remittance company. 
  • In 2021, Absa Kenya sponsored the Savannah Tour Classic a new event created for the European tour in the recovery from Covid and was staged ahead of the Kenya Open. 
  • The Johnnie Walker Classic golf series resumed after eight years, sponsored by EABL’s The Johnnie Walker Classic golf series resumed after eight years, sponsored by EABL’s Kenya Breweries. “Road to Gleneagles” will have amateur and professional golfers compete at 20 clubs across the country ahead of the finale in May 2022 where the winning team will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to play at the Gleneagles in Scotland which is one of the top golf courses in the world. For the professionals, participation will help them to improve their competitiveness for the European tour events played in Kenya. 
  • Insurance companies including ICEA and Liberty (a Stanbic affiliate) also support golf as do other companies in the sector. 
  • EDIT: Amateur golfers are invited to enter the Race to Vipingo Ridge by registering and submitting scores achieved during “club nights” at their home clubs between 18 April and the end of June for a chance to win a chance to play in the finals at Vipingo Ridge, with their transport and accommodation careered for. Note, there is an entry fee for the qualifying rounds.
  • EDIT: NMG has the Nation Classic Golf Series again for 2022.

Absa Kenya resumes dividends after record FY2021

Banking seems to have gotten over the shocks of the last two years, going by the outlook of Absa Bank Kenya. The bank released its 2021 financial results in Nairobi today and signalled a recovery with a resumption of dividend payouts similar to pre-Covid times.

The bank recorded assets of Kshs 429 billion and pre-tax profit of Kshs 15.6 billion for 2021, up from Kshs 5.6 billion in the previous year. Its deposits of Kshs 269 billion and loans of Kshs 234 billion had grown by 6% and 12% respectively. Absa Kenya will pay a dividend of Kshs 1.1 per share to its shareholders, equivalent to a sum of Kshs 6 billion or 58% of its profits. This comes after a dividend freeze last year in which the bank had rescheduled 30% of its loan book to accommodate its customers whose business and lives had been affected by the Covid-19 trade disruptions.

Absa Kenya Managing Director, Jeremy Awori said that 95% of the rescheduled borrowers had since resumed making loan repayments and the bank was able to lend another Kshs 128 billion in 2021.

The bank grew income by 7% to Kshs 37 billion and impairments decreased by 48% to Kshs 4.7 billion. The results were booked without the weighty exceptional items as it has completed the separation, rebranding and transition exercise from Barclays Kenya to Absa Kenya.

Chief Financial Officer, Yusuf Omari said the bank had strong capital and liquidity ratios and was in a good position for 2022 and onwards. He added that the capital position is stronger than in pre-Covid times, and the bank’s bad debt ratio is now at 7.8% compared to the Kenya banking sector average of 13%.

Awori said that the country’s GDP was on the rebound and services, notably tourism, were expected to recover with the removal of travel and quarantine restrictions that had kept business people, tourists and other nationals from visiting the country. There was however caution given the ongoing conflict in Ukraine following the invasion by Russia and which is expected to drive up food and fuel prices across the globe.

Chief Strategy Officer, Moses Muthui said that the last five years had been about growing revenue, driving transformation and bringing down costs. He added that with the separation done, Absa could focus on further diversifying its retail products, growing business banking, and building a regional powerhouse in corporate and institutional banking.

Absa Kenya rebounds from Covid hit

As the wave of quarterly financial results by Kenyan banks stream in this month, the banking industry appears to have recovered from the early effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Absa Bank, Kenya’s fifth-largest bank with assets of Kshs 398 billion ($3.6 billion), released its results, showing a 5x growth in pre-tax profits in the half-year, from 1.6 billion last June to 8.0 billion in June 2021. In the half-year period,  it made provisions of Kshs 1.9 billion compared to Kshs 5.3 billion last June. Overall, loans have grown from Kshs 202 to 219 billion (8%) while deposits have grown from Kshs 249 to 264 billion, representing a loan-to-deposit ratio of 83%. 

The banking industry made many responses to Covid-19, including reducing digital bank charges and restructuring customer loans. Absa restructured 59,000 loans worth Kshs 62 billion, representing 30% of its balance sheet. Absa Kenya’s Managing Director, Jeremy Awori, said it had been a good initiative to work with customers as, by June 2021, 94% of the loans have resumed repayments and the bank’s non-performing asset levels were down to below the industry average of 14%. 

In the last seven years, the bank had doubled the size of its balance sheet, navigated the re-branding from Barclays to Absa, and brought down its cost to income ratio from 53% to 45%.

Absa will optimize costs through technology to improve banking services. In 2021, it will invest Kshs 1.6 billion in technology initiatives; they have already launched WhatsApp banking and will upgrade the Timiza digital banking platform, expand agency banking, automate securities trading and increase cash deposit ATMs and rollout of contactless cards. 

Going forward, Absa Kenya management expects that, with the built-up strong capital and liquidity, the bank will be in a good position to pay a dividend to the shareholders at the end of the year which they missed last year.