Category Archives: Coronavirus

Kenya Airways 2019 results

Kenya Airways announced their results for 2019, which its Chairman Michael Joseph described as a reasonably good year in which they opened new routes, improved on performance and flew a record number of passengers, but one in which they had to make new accounting standard adjustments and then end by looking ahead to a Coronavirus world.   

Group CFO Hellen Mwariri read the financial results starting with an explanation of IAS17 that was replaced by IFRS16. In 2019, the airline had shown improved revenue of Kshs 128 billion which was a 12% increase from the Kshs 114 billion the year before. They had flown 5.1 million passengers, a 7% increase and opened new routes to Genera and Rome with connections to Malindi.

The revenue growth of Kshs 14 billion was offset by increased direct costs from more flights of Kshs 5.8 billion, increased fleet ownership costs with the return of two Boeing 787s that were previously-leased out, resulting in a Kshs 6.4 billion expense, and increased finance costs which went up by Kshs 4.9 billion.

The main difference with the new accounting standard was that leases which were not on the balance sheet, are now included, with interest as an expense and this would affect airlines heavy on leasing. She said that mainly as a result of the 76% increase in finance costs, the airline’s loss for the year also increased by 71%, going up from Kshs 7.5 billion in 2018 to Kshs 12.9 billion in 2019. 

Much like former CEO Mbuvi Ngunze, the airline’s new Group CEO Allan Kilavuka, who recently took over from Sebastian Mikosz, was welcomed with an in-tray of increased losses and new challenges, this time brought about by Coronavirus. 

He estimated the impact of Coronavirus was a revenue loss of revenue, to date, of $150 million (~Kshs 16 billion) and that even if they start flying in June, he estimated that revenue will be $400 million (Kshs 43 billion) lower than 2019.

He said the airline was tentatively preparing to resume flights on June 8 2020. For now, they have converted three Boeing 787’s for cargo and have daily flights carrying flowers (1,200 tons to Europe so far), food (2,600 tons to Europe & the Middle East) and medical equipment (1,500 tons), while occasionally also operating occasional passenger repatriation flights.

The losses sent the airline back into negative equity territory, but the Chairman spoke of light at the end of their restructuring, which was through the planned creation of an airline holding company, that would include the Kenya Airports Authority and probably a re-nationalised Kenya Airways. A bill is with the Attorney General and should go to Parliament in a matter of weeks. Parliament has, in essence, revived an earlier plan to enable the airline to compete with its regional peers that are all state-owned. 

Safaricom 2020 results with CEO transition

Safaricom PLC announced its financial results at a unique event, streamed online, that featured its incoming and outgoing CEO’s.

Overall revenue grew 5% to Kshs 251 billion as M-Pesa revenue grew 12% to Kshs 84 billion with mobile data growing 12% to Kshs 40 billion. Voice and SMS revenue declined. Profit before tax increased to Kshs 105.77 billion up 17% from the previous year, and the company will pay out Kshs 56 billion as dividends to shareholders, up from 50 billion in 2019.

The firm’s Chairman Nicholas Ng’angá welcomed the new CEO Peter Ndegwa who has been in office for a few weeks now and thanked Michael Joseph who had been appointed interim CEO following the demise of Bob Collymore in July 2019.

Ng’angá asked that the country’s regulatory period, after Coronavirus, be designed to support the revival of businesses, not one that increases taxes for consumers and businesses, noting that the company had paid Kshs 111 billion in taxes and fees to the government during 2019.

Michael Joseph said that in his second stint as CEO they had simplified offers to customers and mobile data had double-digit growth while gaining market and increasing data revenue. Safaricom and Vodacom have acquired the M-Pesa brand from Vodafone and will roll out M-Pesa across Africa with new products and lower costs. Safaricom is also pursuing one of the new licenses in Ethiopia.

Sateesh Kamath, the Chief Financial Officer, said the results were adjusted for the one off-gain of acquiring M-Pesa and that service revenue still grew in the year, despite the decline of the sports betting and the reduction of tariffs the company had undertaken to support consumers during Coronavirus. He said that they plan to introduce more use cases to cannibalise M-Pesa “withdrawal” revenue and instead grow customer e-balances in the long run, while Joseph said that they plan to roll out a unit-trust investment product.

Peter Ndegwa, the incoming CEO, announced that the company would roll out a device financing offer to enable Kenyans to access 4G smartphones, with affordable data, by paying as little as Kshs 20 per day. He concluded by saying that Coronavirus made it impossible for the company to provide forward guidance on earnings and capital expenditure for 2021 and that they would do that at a later date.

Aviation in Africa after Corona

The future of aviation in Africa after Coronavirus was the subject of a webinar by Invest Africa held this week with aviation experts. It came on the day that Air Mauritius entered into voluntary receivership, and this was said to be the first of many that will follow.

The call, which was said to be one of the most popular by Invest Africa, featured Rodger Foster (CEO at Airline SA), James Hogan, (former CEO at Etihad), Nick van de Meer (COO at Vista Global), Tony Payne, Yvonne Makolo (CEO at RwandAir) and Allan Kilavuka (MD at Kenya Airways).

Some excerpts:

  • The whole industry in lockdown and we have never seen global aviation stop, just cargo and emergencies. Airlines, can’t use 9/11 and SARS as an indication, but 9/11 resulted in 40% of business loss which took almost 5 years to recover from.
  • 40% of the global commercial aircraft grounded may not fly ever again. When SAA resumes after Coronavirus, it may only operate at 3% of its previous capacity flying 5 routes with 3 planes, down from 3,000 flights and 55 routes. 
  • Rethink business models: Rethink networks, rationalize flees, and operate small capacity aircraft. When travel resumes it’s unlikely that will require large aircraft. There may be just 3-4 business class passengers on some routes and while people may increase travel over 12-24 months, the global shutdown has made them realize that virtual meetings work, and there is less need to travel
  • There’s too much capacity and, with 200 airlines, too many players in Africa aviation. It will be survival of the fittest.
  • Airlines usually have 2 months of cash on hand, but with no planes in the sky, they are engaging in cash conservation in the short-run and finding alternative fundraising to be sustainable in the long run.  
  • While airlines are in discussions with their governments, countries have other many priorities now, like health and hospitals, and there will be no more free money from governments for airlines.  
  • Instead, airlines need to work with each other – airlines, airport, MRO, manufacturers etc. Airlines don’t have the balance sheets that airports do and consolidation will be essential because of reduced demand across the board and excess capacity.  
  • What makes a bankable airline for investors? Airlines all have the same overheads – and it is not necessary every airline to duplicate these. A 5-star hotel operates 5 restaurants using one kitchen. African airlines should restructure and have one centre of excellence for MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations), pilot training, finances, back-office structures. 
  • The productivity of staff and assets need to improve significantly – use fewer resources to do more work – but airlines have to balance that with an even smaller and health-conscious travelling public (crew and passengers) and extra costs of cleaning aircraft that are unbearable. Alongside that, skills are abundant as Covid has placed pilots and engineers on furlough and retrenchment.
  • But the challenge with cooperation and consolidation are different laws, regulation, politics, and bilateral agreements in every country.

Listen to the aviation webinar here

New rules for Kenya credit bureaus amid Covid-19

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has proposed radical new measures relating to credit reference bureaus operating in the country. It barred digital / mobile-based lenders from submitting information to credit reference bureaus, following public complaints.

It also proposed that people should be able to obtain their first clearance credit certificates at no charge, a move to benefit youth and graduates seeking employment. Other measures were that the minimum amount for which one can be reported is Kshs 1,000 (~$10) and savings & credit societies (SACCO’s) are now included as authorized subscribes of credit reference data.

As part of the Government’s response to Coronavirus, the CBK also suspended new listings to credit reference bureaus for loans that become delinquent between April 1 and September 30 to shield borrowers at a time when incomes and economies are disrupted.

In addition, Kenya’s Parliament will soon debate new clauses of credit reference regulations that include:

  • A credit information provider shall not provide information relating to a customer to any bureau if the customer notifies the provider, by writing or verbally, that the information is inaccurate.
  • A bureau shall carry out due diligence and suitability assessment of the third-party credit information provider – to learn about their ownership, management, legality status and accuracy of their records.
  • Bureaus are only to share with the customer, the Central Bank, a requesting subscriber and a third party authorized by the banking act, Microfinance Act or Sacco Societies Act.
  • Where a customer disagrees with the resolution of some disputed information, the customer may request the bureau to attach a statement of 100 words to the customer’s credit report, setting out the customer’s claim.
  • The Central Bank shall be the owner of all information and data held by bureaus and regardless of how the information or data is processed. CBK shall retain the right of access to data even after revocation or expiry of any license issued.
  • Every bureau shall prominently display on its premises and on its website, an up-to-date list of all third-party credit information providers that have been approved by the CBK to submit credit information it.
  • Credit reference bureaus shall now have to conduct public education programs on how credit information sharing works, and how the public can access services that they can benefit from.

Investment deal-making amid Corona

The East Africa Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (EAVCA) held a webinar today about the impact of Coronavirus, which appears to be a black swan event, on deal-making at private equity firms in the region.

It featured private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) industry experts, Charles Omanga (Horizon Africa), Nigel Smith (KPMG), Paras Shah (Bowman’s Law) and Ananya Sengupta (PWC), with Kanini Mutooni (Toniic Institute) as the session moderator.

Excerpts from the session:

Coronavirus Impact:

  • Valuations A new challenge is convincing entrepreneurs that this is the value of the business because of Corona and when you come out of the pandemic how soon will it normalize – CO
  • “EBITDAC” (not EBITDA) will be a new measure of company performance and there will be discussions about measuring business valuations “before” and “after” Corona – NS
  • Businesses have had continuity plans, but none had foreseen such scenarios – shutdowns, closures of school, travel restrictions for extended periods etc – AS

Deal Pipelines:

  • The biggest request so far from investors is to scenario plan immediately on how long will Corona will take and what impact it will have on the businesses? Some deals will fall away – CO 
  • European and American investors are still sending enquiries for long term investments here – PS
  • People have not walked away from deals but provided 12-18 month periods for certain ratios to be attained – NS 
  • Deal negotiations are still ongoing, with signing delayed. In other cases, parties have come to an agreement but agreed not to sign, and that if the Corona impact is bad, they will walk away – PS

Banking Challenges and Bailouts:

  • Don’t expect reputable DFI’s to default, but they will enhance due diligence before releasing funds and decisions will take longer – CO
  • While CBK has given guidelines for lenders, the banking system is not awash with liquidity – NS
  • The Government of Kenya has been fast in coming up with measures such as taxes reductions, but in terms of financial support of SME’s business and workforce, it is unable to provide support like in other countries, where some governments have stepped forward to pay private-sector salaries – NS
  • Government has not had any talks with landlords – PS 
  • Funds may need to extend the period of resounding to cash calls beyond the current 10-14 days – NS

Opportunities:

  • Some local audit/consulting firms have seen an increase in the volume of work as PE firms are not able to come in and do their due diligence here. They are now asking local firms that can mobilize teams to digitize and upload data needed for transaction decisions – NS
  • Local manufacturers in pharmaceuticals and health will do well; also online education online entertainment and medical insurance – CO
  • Regulators have adopted technology to allow online filings and government agencies have been impressive – PS 
  • A good thing about crisis makes people think differently – and the judiciary is semi-open, with judges delivering rulings are online, but registries remain closed. This is an opportunity for Kenya to shine with its use of technology – PS
  • Tax cuts were offered by the Government, and if they stay that way, that will be positive  – PS 
  • Clean Funding: After days of shutdown, the world has come to realize the impact of clean technology is and how important it will be to invest in areas that clean the environment – AS

Advice for Businesses:

  • In a black swan event, Nicholas Taleb advises firms to exploit positive consequences and minimize negative ones – KM 
  • Force majeure clauses in Kenyan contracts, such as leases. are not common or robust, but there will be more of them going forward – PS 
  • Firms should engage with their banks, supplier and landlords – and fund managers should assist in arranging such discussions – PS
  • If a fund is already fundraising, proceed until you are not able to do more – AS
  • Some deal partners are DFI’s (e.g. IFC, DFID) that have emergency funding available for investees to draw down as loans or working capital. That happened during Ebola and now for Corona – AS

You can watch the webinar on YouTube.