Category Archives: hedge funds

Cellulant investment mega deal

Yesterday Cellulant announced a new deal record Series C financing round to grow the digital payments company into markets on the African continent where two-thirds of the population remains unbanked.

The investment deal for $47.5 million (Kshs 4.8) billion was led by the TPG Rise Fund alongside Endeavor Catalyst and Satya Capital. The company is now in 11 countries in Africa and reaching 40 million customers. These include 7 million farmers on Agrikore an agri-business platform in Nigeria.

A recent report on the financing of fintech companies released by the East Africa Venture Capital Association (EAVCA) noted that there were trends towards the financing of non-traditional companies, who were involved in decentralized networks and enabling the use of alternative data to develop new scoring models. Also that once such companies enabled customers to have mobile wallets, their usage can be more frequent and the platforms can be extended towards government, utilities and other payments. The report noted other recent large financing deals included $80 million (of debt) to M-Kopa, the pay-as-you-go-solar firm and $65 million to Branch, the lending app.

The team at the signing go the Cellulant financing deal.

Part of the new funding will go towards building a world-class payments team,  according to Ken Njoroge, the co-founder and Group CEO of Cellulant.  The new investors join the other shareholders at Celluant who are Velocity Capital, Progression Capital Africa, and TBL Mirror Fund while representatives of the TPG Rise Fund will join the board of Cellulant. Other TPG Growth investments in Africa include Gro Intelligence (an agricultural data business firm), Frontier (a platform which powers Cars45, a second-hand car-sale site in Nigeria) and Ecoles Yassamine (a Moroccan private school network).

Read more on this at the Cellulant blog.

Barclays Kenya Previews IFRS9

Barclays Kenya held a workshop session in Nairobi today to explain about the coming of IFRS9, a set of new accounting standards that will replace IAS 39 on January 1, 2018. which will have a great impact on banks, their capital, customer assessment and ultimately their profits.

Some of the highlights of the day:

Compliance Impact

  • Even as banks are still digesting the impact of interest rate caps, along comes IFRS9.
  • All institutions will adopt the impairment standard in 2018.
  • One challenge will be on how to report for impairment: Banks will have to do three sets of accounts, one for impairment according to Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) rules, one for the Kenya Revenue Authority to calculate taxes on profit after impairment, and another for Impairment according to IFRS9. This makes compliance a costly affair.
  • IFRS9 is data intensive, so auditors will be concerned with the quality of data and reconciling it to bank financial statements. They will have to trust that management is providing the right data to make decisions, and if not, they will engage with the bank board, then the bank regulator (CBK).
  • Banks need systems that are able to capture a lot of this customer data and products and come up with impairment models.
  • Banks will use predictive analytics, and big data to manage risk in customer lending.  


  • IFRS9 brings cross-product default, and if a customer defaults on one loan item like a credit card, a bank has to provide for impairment across all products advanced to them
  • Expect a change from the current practice of using credit reference more from the negative  perspective (a blacklist of borrowers) to a good one (banks will check to see who has been paying on time and offer them better rates)
  • Collection strategies will become very important, given the financial impact of IFRS9 for defaults over 30 days and 90 days.
  • Kenyan bankers are working to enable customers to get access to their own data and shop for products that will be easy to compare across different banks. This will be an enhancement of the loan calculator that the bankers association rolled out earlier.
  • IFRS9 seems to give an incentive for banks to lend shorter duration loans. 

    IFRS9 gives incentive to shorter loans


  • With IFRS9 banks estimate the credit risk of an instrument, at the point of origination – so losses are recognized earlier.
  • Previously, under IAS 39. banks only recognized a loss once an event occurred e.g customer does not pay a loan for many months. Now banks will have to expect and estimate some defaults and recognize the loss upfront.
  • Under IFRS9, accounting provisions are expected to be higher than the current regulatory provisions.

Financial Statement Changes

  • From day one of IFRS9, there will be an impact on retained earnings and a reduction in Tier 1 capital at all banks
  • Under IFRS9, letter of credit, financial guarantees, performance guarantees, unused credit cards, non-traded government bonds will also be used to calculate impairment.
  • Studies show that IFRS9 running concurrently with IAS 39 can impact on the capital of a bank by between 25 to 100 basis points.
  • Are government securities still risk-free for local traders and investors? Not so under IFRS9. But since Kenya has never defaulted on debt so IFRS9, provisioning will be minimal compared to bonds of some other nations

Way Forward

  • On 1 Jan 2018, international accounting standard IFRS9 will replace IAS 39.
  • Kenyans banks are at a fairly satisfactory stage in terms of getting ready for IFRS9 with Tier I banks, and those with global parentage at an advanced stage compared to local indigenous banks e.g. Barclays has been working on IFRS9 for two years
  • ICPAK (Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya) is working on. rules for the consistent and uniform application of the IFRS9 standard and these will be ready by the end of October.
  • ICPAK will have other forums to further explain IFRS9 as will the Central Bank. 
  • CBK will come up with new classification of loans to replace the current measures of normal, watch, sub-standard, loss etc..

Derivatives in East Africa

On Monday, May 16, Strathmore University invited Eduardo Schwartz a UCLA Professor and world-renowned lecturer, advisor, expert and author to give a talk on derivatives.

Introducing the talk, Strathmore Director Jim McFie talked of the plan for Strathmore to be at the academic forefront for learning on derivatives in Kenya, which they are doing with the Global Board of Trade (GBOT) – and that for Kenya to compete with Mauritius as a financial centre, derivatives markets will have to be established in Kenya.

McFie also mentioned a tendency for Kenyan parents to push their children into pre-formed careers at an early age, which was wrong, as he noted that Prof. Schwartz trained and started working as an engineer before he branched into financial markets.

Prof. Schwartz was giving his first talk in Africa on the subject and chose to give a Derivatives 101 talk, even as he knew there were investment bankers, and officials from the Treasury and Nairobi Stock Exchange present. He observed that it would be difficult to set up such markets given the economic challenges here, but that ultimately, the development of efficient markets was necessary for economic development.

He noted:

  • You can have derivative on any variable that can be measured without discussion between the parties – e.g. rainfall, presidential elections, sports.
  • Popularity? Interest rate contracts are the biggest (390 trillion) followed by credit default swaps (which had rapid growth from 2006 ), then foreign exchange contracts, commodities and finally equity-linked contracts, in that order.
  • In any Wall Street Journal, you get a quick reading of all the major forwards e.g. quotes for the UK pound – 1, 3, and 6 months forward, and futures prices of metal & petroleum (gold, silver), agriculture (wheat, corn, orange, juice, pork bellies, rice) and interest rates.
  • Some arguments in favour of hedging: Companies can focus on their main business and take steps to minimize market risks such as interest rates, by hedging, which also minimizes the probability for financial distress.
  • Arguments against /dangers of hedging? Shareholders are well diversified and can make their own decisions, it may increase risk to hedge when competitors do not (Southwest Air), and it is possible to take large positions with very little money (traders can change from hedgers to speculators)
  • You can get more reading of a local perspective on derivatives here

While he was said he was shocked that there no forward market in foreign exchange in Kenya, there are forward markets for currencies, and for some commodities like flowers and fuel, which are done in private arrangements with partners, buyers, and customers, but mainly through large banks. They are not exchangeable, and there is no capital markets mechanism now for this.

The most memorable one was Kenya Airways fuel hedging which they have employed for a number of years during rising fuel prices, but which resulted in a loss of Kshs 5.6 billion (~72 million) in 2009 (more)

With time there could be a few more to deal with gaps such as the current situation where farmers are hoarding maize harvests to draw the government out into paying more for the crop.

Financial Friday

Earlier results showed that tax collection is not profitable, but neither is dealing with the strong shilling.

The Central Bank of Kenya year ended June 2007 shows the bank recorded a 386 million shillings loss down from a 4.5 billion profit in 2006. This was largely due to a forex loss of lost 9.8 billion shillings as the shilling remained strong against the US dollar, Euro and Sterling pound.

How much currency is circulating in Kenya? 90 billion shillings ($1.34 billion), in currency up from 76 billion in June 2006.

Bank in law
You don’t start a marriage by locking out the in-laws, but that’s what’s happening with CFC Stanbic as CFC stockbrokers have suspended trades in Stanbic Uganda shares to clear up a backlog of orders.

Shares vs. Holiday vs. Election expenses
The much anticipated Safaricom IPO edges into danger zone as the IPO could be pushed back to start on December 10th, not the 3rd.

Hedge funds to Africa
There was the Equity – Helios deal announced this week.

Another prime opportunity would be for a hedge fund to invest in Transcentury

PSD blog puts the new investment interest in Africa in a historical perspective with China and other Asian countries recognizing an opportunity to stake out the long term

Hedge Funds a year ago

Hedge Funds to Africa

Excerpts from a China news report: Some hedge funds are turning to resource-rich sub-Saharan Africa for investment, a fact reflecting an upward trend in some of the region’s economies and the growth of hedge funds and their search for new frontiers, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Citigroup is now trading securities from countries such as Kenya, Botswana, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana for its clients. Within a few years, it has gone from trading in only two countries in sub-Saharan Africa to 12.

Banks wanted

Standard Bank (aka Stanbic) is seeking mid-size retail banks in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Angola, in addition to investing heavily in its own operations in Kenya to grow them at 25 percent a year,

Stanbic is Kenya’s 12th largest bank and its assets grew by 36% in the half-year.

Great image from