Category Archives: Covid19

Absa Kenya One Year Anniversary

Absa Bank Kenya celebrated its one-year anniversary at its newly-redesigned Queensway Branch in downtown Nairobi today. It has been a strange first year for Absa which completed the transformation from the Barclays brand in February 2020, three weeks days before Kenya was enveloped by Covid-19 and underwent a shutdown that, while it has progressively reduced, still affected thousands of business, jobs, and customers, as well as the bank itself.

Speaking at the event, Absa Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori said the bank had a great strategy to grow and expand, then Covid-19 hit and the year turned to be one of the challenges for the bank, industry, local and global economy. Absa also began to see opportunities for impact and to demonstrate its humanity and innovations to enable the bank to serve customers as they worked to rebuild their livelihoods. They adjusted to have half their staff work from home and instituted a shift arrangement for front-line workers and these enabled 100% of branches to remain open, while the digital platforms had 99% uptime.

Absa offered financial relief to help customers navigate the pandemic after many lost jobs and businesses. They restructured Kshs 62 billion worth of loan repayments, extending relief to over 59,000 customers. They also continue to lend a sizeable amount to SME’s to stay afloat and provide employment, and also committed to paying small suppliers of the bank within seven days to boost their cash flow.

He added that the bank was cautiously optimistic that 2021 will be a better year, with news of vaccines giving confidence to business and governments to relax containment measures and turn to boost economies. Absa Kenya will invest Shs 1.6 billion in 60 technology projects to enhance customer experiences. One will be to automate loan top-ups, allowing people to get loans on top of existing loans, and another will be a new online business-banking platform.

Absa Kenya Chairman Charles Muchene said the bank contributed Shs 50 million to the Kenya Covid Fund, invested Shs 30 million in initiatives led by partners, and donated 210,000 masks for medical workers, with another 20,000 to boda-boda operators. The bank is now asking Kenyans to join and to help underprivileged. They launched a “Wall of possibilities” for people to write suggestions or ideas on the bank’s social media pages or at the Queensway branch on ways that the bank can assist communities to benefit. Absa may fund each idea with up to Shs 2.5 million.

Stanbic Bank “It Can Be” launch

Stanbic Kenya has launched “It Can Be,” a new way of engaging with customers, particularly with women and small & medium enterprises. Stanbic is the second-oldest bank in Kenya, having started over 100 years ago and grew to later merge with CFC Bank in 2007. Today, it is a Tier-I bank with $3 billion assets in Kenya and serves over 200,000 customers with services in corporate & retail banking, wealth management, investments, and insurance.

“It Can Be” symbolises a new push to engage with customers, in the new decade, beyond Stanbic’s 26 branches in the country. The bank has transformed and adopted digital-based solutions to serve its customers who have also largely shifted to online and digital after business disruptions with the emergence of Covid-19. One new Stanbic tool is automating core functions in documentary trade finance using artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) for real-time counter-party verification, giving customers quick feedback while reducing trade risks.

The “It Can Be” brand ambassador is Brigid Kosgei, the women’s marathon world-record holder.

Stanbic Kenya CEO Charles Mudiwa spoke at the “It Can Be” launch and mentioned how Covid-19 had shown the importance of relationships and standing with communities. He added that the bank’s customer focus had shifted to being relationship-based and Stanbic has embraced four policy initiatives of funding, markets, business competitiveness and influencing policy. In its third-quarter 2020 financial results, Stanbic Kenya announced that it had extended loan restructurings to 23% of its customers, at no cost, to cushion them from the effects of Covid-19. It also reduced the interest charged on existing loans and waived charges for using the bank’s digital platforms.

Stanbic is the largest bank group in Africa, with $151 billion in assets and a presence in twenty countries on the continent. Its largest shareholder is the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s largest bank that owns 20.1%. Stanbic Kenya is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and shareholders receive a high dividend yield of 8%. Stanbic Africa is also increasing its shareholding of the Kenyan bank to 75% by buying shares from other shareholders.

Roblox IPO – Prospectus Peek

Roblox Corporation will list on the New York Stock Exchange as RBLX.

How much do we know about Roblox? Kids spend hours on it every day, but do they how Roblox works and the numbers behind it? Take a peek into the IPO prospectus for Roblox. 

About Roblox:

  • Founded in 2004 by David Baszucki and Erik Cassel. Today, Baszucki is the CEO and second-largest shareholder with 12% behind Altos Ventures that has 21%.
  • The company has eight classes of stock some preferred, some convertible and more restricted share units have been granted to employees in the IPO. 

Numbers:

  • The company had $489 million revenue in 2019 and $589 million in the first nine-months of 2020. $409 million (70%) of its revenue is from US/Canada, 17% from Europe, with Asia-Pacific adding 8% and the rest of the world is 5% (28.2 million).
  • The company has $1.49 billion assets, 801 million of which is in cash.
  • It lost $86 million in 2019 and $205 million in the first nine-months of 2020. It has carried forward accumulated tax loss credits with the US government of $162 million and $54 million in the state of California.

Users & Experiences:

  • Key attractions that draw users to Roblox are unique identities, interaction with their friends, low friction (easy to join) and the variety of 3D experiences easily accessible on most devices whether they run on iOS, Android, PC, Mac, Xbox, Oculus Rift etc.
  • Most experiences are free and users can then purchase others such as clothing and avatars.  Users do this using ‘Robux’ which they purchase with a credit card, subscriptions or one-time mobile payment (such as with M-Pesa), and use the Robux is to access digital items such as avatar and features.
  • The user base is currently 51% male and 44% female, with 72% of uses using mobile devices. Geographically, 33% of users are in the US /Canada, 29% in Europe 15% in Asia and 22% in the rest of the world. The Roblox business case going forward depends on growing internationally, particularly in Europe (Germany & France), and Asia (South Korea). Also, in February 2019 they entered a joint venture with Tencent to use the Roblox platform in China and Roblox owns 51% of the JV.
  • Users aged 9-12 years are 29%, under-9s are 25% and 13-16 are 13%, while 14% of Roblox users are over 25 years. They hope to grow the over-13 crowd as they have a higher propensity to spend on content.
  • During Covid-hit in 2020, active users have gone up from 18 million in 2019 to 31 million by September 2020 from 180 countries. On average, people spend 2.6 hours per day on Roblox.

Operations:

  • Roblox has 18,000 servers in the US, Europe and Asia that handle 10 million requests per second.
  • Users are able to draw from a library that has 18 million experiences and the company uses machines and 1,700 humans to moderate this content.

Developer Program:

  • It has 7 million developers and 960,000 of them earn on the platform. Developers can build in their native languages and machines translate the content into 11 languages including English, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Chinese, German and French.
  • Creators receive 30 % of revenue from the creations while developers receive 70% of Robux spent on their experiences. In the nine months to September 2020, developers earned $209 million up from 72 million in the same period last year. 1,050 developers earned $10,000 or more and 250 earned more than $100,000 in Robux.
  • If they want to cash out of the developer exchange program, the rate is one Robux is equivalent to $0.0035.

Advisors:

  • Underwriters of the IPO are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Allen & Co, Bank of America, and RBC.
  • The auditor is Deloitte while the firm of Wilson Sonsini is the legal counsel.

Edit: In January 2021, Roblox issued 11,555,553 shares of Series H convertible preferred stock to certain institutional accredited investors in a private placement at a purchase price of $45.00 per share for aggregate gross proceeds of approximately $520 million. There was no underwriter or placement agent used in connection with this sale. The shares acquired by such investors will be registered for resale in connection with the registration statement of which this prospectus forms a part.

More via CNBC:

  • By raising some money before going public, Roblox was able to pad its balance sheet and preserve the ability to bring in more capital through a secondary sale later this year.
  • Roblox had been considering a more traditional IPO, but tabled its plans last month after DoorDash and Airbnb popped on consecutive days, leading to concern that the company risked leaving too much money on the table.
  • Because it’s not doing an IPO, Roblox no longer requires underwriters. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley will stay on as financial advisers, but JPMorgan, Bank of America and RBC Capital Markets were removed from the filing.

To be continued.

AFMI 2020 shows African financial markets resilience

The findings of the 2020 African Financial Markets Index (AFMI) report were highlighted in Nairobi today for a year in which countries face economic and medical challenges from COVID-19.

The fourth edition of the AFMI report by the Absa Group and the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) now measures 23 countries that encompass two-thirds of the continent’s population and 80% of its GDP. The countries are ranked by six assessments of investment attractiveness and this year, Eswatini, Lesotho and Malawi were added to the Index. 

South Africa remained on top, followed by Mauritius, and surprisingly Nigeria, which, along with Morocco, Ghana and Seychelles, made great strides to improve. Kenya, which was number three in 2019, dropped to number seven this year. Overall, 14 of the 23 countries scored above the median mark, a great improvement from the first index when only 6 of the 17 countries achieved this.

COVID-19 has had different impacts on African countries, but as Jeremy Awori Absa Kenya CEO said, even with the slowed-growth in the first half of the year, much was still expected from the continent that has a rising middle-class, and rising urban population. He added that growth would come from developing open, transparent and well-regulated financial markets.

Absa Economist, Jeff Gable said Africa cited some developments on the continent towards financial inclusion and making exchanges accessible to retail investors. These included Eswaitni’s automated trading platform and the Nairobi Securities Exchange’s revamped mobile app for retail investors with Dar es Salaam also working on a similar one. He spoke of moves to encouraging more funds to invest within the continent that saw Lesotho require its pension fund managers to invest locally (currently just 3% of assets are in the country), the launch of a derivatives market in Nigeria, and Ethiopia drafting legislation for a stock exchange.

In terms of sustainable finance, Kenya had its first green bond, Egypt had the first one in the MENA region, and Nigeria is working on its third green bond. Also, the African Development Bank was one of the first institutions to issue a financial instrument to fight the COVID-19 pandemic as it issued a $3 billion social-bond tranche. 

Danae Kyriakopoulou of OMFIF spoke of Kenya’s drop which was mainly in the “access to foreign exchange” measure where which it was ranked tenth after having topped the pillar just two years ago. This was partly due to the perception of the currency exchange rate. And on market transparency, she said that Kenya has few firms that have global credit ratings, compared to Nigeria, South Africa, and Mauritius.

She added that a strong local investor base was a source of long-term capital and a financial markets shock absorber of volatility, and that Namibia has the highest pension assets under management per capita on the index.  In terms of protection of minority shareholders, Kenya does well on that but it also needs to adopt enforcement of international financial master agreements (ISDA) as a key area of improvement. Kenya is also part of a pilot Africa Exchange Linkages Project to promote intra-African investment flows between the stock exchanges of Nairobi, Johannesburg, Casablanca, Egypt, Nigeria, Mauritius and the BRVM in West Africa.

George Asante, Head of Global Markets at Absa, said that the impact of COVID-19 was not as drastic on African financial markets as they had developed more resilience through having regulators work in uniform. This was in comparison to the 2008 global financial crisis which had a big disruption on African markets resulting in bond yields shooting up 30%. But he cautioned that African governments should work hard to remove the uncertainties that are still in the prices of their bonds, to attain lower borrowing costs in future.

The 2020 AFMI report by Absa Group and OMFIF can be downloaded here.

Coca-Cola partners for business recovery in Kenya

Coca-Cola has launched a program to assist traders to quickly recover, and safely reopen their businesses, following months of disruption from Covid-19.

The company will avail Kshs 125 million as part of a Coca-Cola system small business recovery campaign to assist 18,000 businesses, along with its partners including Absa Bank Kenya, Amref Health Africa and the Women Enterprise Fund. This will be through initiatives such as loans, personal protective equipment, sanitation facilities, soda cases, gardening furniture (for outdoor dining) and training to help them reopen safely between October 2020 and March 2021.

Coca-Cola has 300,000 traders in the country, and through its data, has noted the disruptions on these small businesses, 40% of which are at risk of closure even after the government relaxed lockdown restrictions in September 2020. This is partly from expired stocks and slow sales pick up in places like downtown Nairobi.

Absa will provide unsecured business loans of up to Kshs 10 million, for working capital, and up to Kshs 50 million for Local Purchase order (LPO) and inventory discounting. As the financing business partner in this campaign, the bank, through trade data, is quickly able to score the business creditworthiness, and extend financing, to suppliers and retailers in the Coca-Cola ecosystem, without having to scour their financial statements.

Coca-Cola has also extended a grant of $175,000 (~Kshs 20 million) to Amref to support 4,000 micro-outlets, such as eateries and leisure places, in Laikipia, Nairobi and Mombasa counties, to carry out occupational safety changes & training and reopen safely in their communities. Also, for participating businesses in Laikipia, the County Government has offered further support to traders there through credits to offset some business loans as part of a Kshs 123 million Laikipia economic stimulus package.