Category Archives: Investing in Kenya

Bank Rankings 2018 Part II: New Entrants

Following an earlier ranking of the top banks based on their asset size at the beginning of the year, what are Kenya’s top banks likely to be, nominally based on asset size at the end of the year? In 2018, Interest rate caps and IFRS9 have had an impact on bank performance while the departures of Imperial and Chase banks were announced.

Ranking using September 2018 numbers 

1. KCB Group – Kenya bank assets of Kshs 594 billion assets (and group assets of Kshs 684 billion).

2. Equity – Kenya bank assets of Kshs 424 billion (and group assets of Kshs 560 billion).

* 3 CBA/NIC – combined assets of Kshs 425 billion (as at September 2018) – if an announced merger deal is approved and completed. CBA and NIC are ranked 9 and 10 by assets, and will leap-frog Cooperative Bank, Barclays Kenya, Diamond Trust, Standard Chartered Kenya, Stanbic and Investment & Mortgages (I&M) banks.

4. Co-op Bank Kenya – asses of Kshs 398 billion.

Other new and interesting bank changes this year; 

12.  State-owned National Bank is in search of a shareholder deal to boost capital.

15.  SBM Kenya. The State Bank of Mauritius completed a carve-out and rebranding of assets, staff, branches and customers of Chase Bank in August. For the third quarter of 2018, it reported assets of Kshs 75.5 billion up from 11.7 billion in January 2018. It now has customer loans of Kshs 12.4 billion, customer deposits of Kshs 53.6 billion, and government securities of Kshs 34.8 billion. SBM entered Kenya two years ago by taking over Fidelity Bank that had assets of Kshs 15 billion in 2015 for just $1. KCB also is expected to conclude a takeover deal for collapsed Imperial Bank in 2019.

39. Mayfair Bank was licensed to operate in June 2017 and began operations later in August. Mayfair now has Kshs 5.3 billion in assets and operates three branches in Nairobi and Mombasa.

41 Dubai Islamic Bank – Kenya (DIB Kenya) with Kshs 4.1 billion in assets was licensed in April 2017. It, is the third Shariah-only bank in Kenya, after Gulf African (No. 23 with Kshs 32 billion of assets) and First Community (No. 31 with Kshs 16 billion assets). DIB Kenya is a fully-owned subsidiary of Dubai Islamic Bank which is one of the largest Islamic banks in the world.

$1 = Kshs 102.

CBA and NIC to merge

The boards of NIC Group and Commercial Bank of Africa have announced preliminary plans to merge. This follows talks that had been reported as far back as January 2015.

The move is driven by a need to consolidate capital and liquidity with new technology opportunities to provide more services to customers and grow returns for shareholders.

The merger of the eight and ninth largest banks in the country will result in a banking institution that will be the second or third largest by assets, behind KCB and Equity.  As of September 2018, NIC and CBA had a combined asset base of Kshs 443 billion ($4.3 billion) and Kshs 9.3 billion in pre-tax profits. 

CBA is already the largest bank by customer numbers thanks to M-Shwari, its partnership with Safaricom’s M-Pesa that had over 21 million customers last year.

More details will come later and NIC is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

Media Moment: BBC expansion in Nairobi

BBC Hub: Monday, November 5 saw the BBC launch their largest news bureau in the world outside the United Kingdom with Nairobi now being the home of the 300 of the network’s 600 journalists working in Africa.

This is all part of the W2020 project that aims to increase the impact and reach of the BBC.  Rachel Akidi, Head of East Africa Languages, said that in the last year, staff numbers in Nairobi has grown rapidly and significantly from 80 to 300 as several journalists who were familiar faces on local channels are now on BBC. The World Service team now produces 800 hours of new content comprising news, investigations, health, women discussion, sports, business etc, broadcasting in 12 languages, 6 of which are African, with the content distributed via TV, digital and radio.

The day also saw the launch of a fourteenth local program called “Money Daily” and the BBC has also set out to tackle the problem of fake news with a dedicated new program about this that launches on November 19.

TV stats: Meanwhile, Kenya has also seen some new television channels launch recently including Fanaka TV, an all-business channel, and SwitchTV. Another of the new channels has released some interesting statistics on TV viewership on Kenya:

  • Friday to Sunday has the highest TV viewership, in terms of hours consumed daily. But within a month, the period between the dates of from the 12th to the 25th of the month see the highest number of hours consumed.
  • Live viewership of events (e.g. sports, award shows) result in a significant decline in watching traditional media e.g. news, feature shows. Reality TV is mainly watched live due to social media engagement.
  • Wireless streaming does not work on all fixed wireless ISP’s in Kenya. It works over 3G and 4G, which offer a more reliable, but pricier, delivery model.

Kwese Goes Digital: Kwese, the Pan-African digital channel, pulled the plug on its satellite broadcasting services as it announced a switch to focus on digital broadcasting its Kwesé Free Sports, Kwesé iflix and Kwesé Play.

Kwese’s free to air service was in 11 African countries, but going forward viewers can download the Kwese app to their phones and subscribe for content, with Kwese iflix being free for 12 months.

GAA: Several people including a current Member of Parliament (MP) and a former Permanent Secretary were charged with obtaining money by false pretences and fraud.

This relates to a Government Advertising Agency (GAA) that was created a few years ago to handle all media advertising for the government. But for several recent months, leading media houses have been complaining about unpaid bills, with the Nation Media Group attributing its latest half-year profit dip to the Kshs 856 million (~$8.5 million) owed to it by the agency.

After Office Hours with Kris Senanu at the Nairobi Garage

Last Friday, Nairobi Garage hosted an “After Office Hours ” chat session with Kris Senanu, the Managing Director- Enterprise at Telkom Kenya. He is also a successful venture capitalist with diverse investments and is also a judge on KCB Lion’s Den, a televised local version of the Shark Tank show, in which entrepreneurs pitch for investors to fund their companies.

Excerpts from the Q&A  

Balancing Work and Investments: He has a fun day job at Telkom, but he’s an insomniac and is able to do investing work from 6 PM to midnight. He started investing as a “terrible hobby” when he was 21 and he has a high appetite for risk.

He’s Not Just Invested in Tech: “Investments depends on what is the value to me, the community, country and profitability.” He started his first business Yaka Yeke which was about bringing West African fashion, which he liked, to East Africa. Later he got a partner and started Mama Ashanti restaurant because he wanted to eat West African food and saw there was a demand for that.

He doesn’t own any company. He created Blackrock, with his partners, which he doesn’t manage, to consolidate and oversee his investments. They take a maximum of 33% of equity and let the other shareholders deal with the heavy tasks of managing companies while they provide guidance.  He puts in money based on plans, and milestones and has people who check on those. While he may go serve drinks at one of their bars, he does not dwell on the daily numbers but will read reports late at night.

Funding Decisions: He said a key thing for any entrepreneurs seeking funds from investors was to know what type of money to seek. It was not about “do I need equity or debt?” and what amount to ask for, but also about what you need at any particular time – one is for operational expense, the other is for long-term expense. if you go for equity, there is some money that is good for you, and others to avoid – and some companies get money and right from month one of the new funding, the business or environment changes.

He invests $10,000 to $500,000, and takes on riskier investments – and if it is an area he can add value and scale, it will get investment. He also looks at how passionate an investor is  “are they willing to do this for 10 years or is it just a side-hustle?”. Spreadsheets are powerful tools that guide, but also confuse with numbers that can obscure real basic business. Investment decisions take up to six months as they use evaluate, build relationships with, and get to understand the entrepreneurs.

Scaling Companies:  His main challenge in the last few years has been scalability – as he says there are good businesses around, but they don’t have the ability to scale. While many do okay in a single market or single country, when numbers are good, investors want to see the businesses go multi-market or multi-country.

He said Nairobi has a lot of venture capital, angel funders, and private equity investors – all with money and who are willing to invest in businesses, but that the lot of money is chasing the few businesses that show scalability, and the ability to be sustainable and profitable in the long-term.

Foreigners Getting Start-Up Funding in Nairobi: On this, he said capital will flow to places and spaces where the capital feels comfortable, and entrepreneurs in Nairobi are going to have to make people more comfortable investing big money with us – and to change that narrative about “capital flowing to foreign faces in local spaces.” He said that it could be a case that some local businesses seeking investors were not fully baked and were perhaps at a stage where they were better off going of debt (convertibles/loans) rather than equity funding. He mentioned an episode of the Lion’s Den where someone mentioned Cellulant in a way that offended him. He said that many managers at Cellulant were former colleagues of his and he had watched the company grow for many years, overcoming many tough times as it ventured across Africa. He said entrepreneurs have to, know when to raise capital, know what to ask for, and that Cellulant was now attracting big funding rounds because of their strategic funding decisions and people have to get better at that in Nairobi.

His Work Philosophy: “if you work your whole life for money that is sad; you have to find purpose.” His is to invest in someone else’s visions and help them grow their companies – At Swift, he was employee number 7 and the company grew to 150 staff, while at Access Kenya, he was employee number three, after the founders. He endeavours to grow businesses, create employment, make profits, then exit and move on to the next one.

Night Club IPO? “I have a philosophy is to create one million jobs” but he Knows that is not going to happen through companies, but if he can enable, through his cash, other entrepreneurs to create 10 or 20 or 50 jobs, he will do it. From 2009 he was saving $200 per month, along with some friends who planned to attend the World Cup in South Africa. But he really had no interest in watching soccer and after his wife persuaded him to meet with a young entrepreneur, he ended up giving him the money he had set aside for the World Cup. “I liked the guy, his swag and ideas.” That young man was Amor Thige and the idea was to put money into a nightclub called Skylux Lounge. It later became the top club in Nairobi for several years and changed the nightlife scene.

The Skylux experience led him to invest in another group Tribeka which went on to open five nightclubs – Tribeka, Rafikiz,  Zodiak, Fahrenheit and Natives, and they later added Ebony and Marina Bay at English Point, Mombasa. At its height the group had a turnover of Kshs 87 million a month, rounding out to a billion shillings a year – but what mattered to him more was that the chain was employing 472 people, which was more than the 380 jobs at Access Kenya, a listed company. They also considered doing an IPO for the group, seeing as Kenyans who liked drinking would also like to own a piece of the company, and some of their clubs cost as much as Kshs  60 million to build out. 

Where to Find Investment Information and Data? He said there’s so much diversity in Nairobi and cited a few conversations in sports bars about agribusiness that are leading him into investing in macadamia nuts. He is now doing research, scouting for companies and the best places to grow macadamia over the next few years – “it all depends on who you hang with and the conversations you are having”. He said you can get data on private companies from the right people who have no reason to embellish data, and added that even public companies in Kenya and South Africa audited by top firms are later found to have cooked their books.

Why Telkom Kenya?: He said he entered the telecommunications business while there was a giant monopoly, the Kenya Posts & Telecommunications Corporation (KPTC) – that had low-quality, high prices and poor service – and which constricted the growth of communications at the time. So when Access Kenya was sold to Dimension Data he saw working to revamp Telkom Kenya as his next challenge – to grow a viable challenger that disrupts, gives choice and opportunity in the era of another dominant company (read Safaricom). He sees this as his national service to give back to the people of Kenya, through the government, and the ecosystem, and that while people in the room may not appreciate it now, they will in five years.

Decision-Making:
  • Most difficult decision; firing the smartest person at the company, but who had the worst attitude. it was tough but it was for the greater good of the business.
  • Best decision; sticking to technology. Tech brings change and motion process every day, He’s never bored, he wakes up to have fun. It started while he was selling clothes and Wangari Mathai’s niece asked him to join her at Swift Global and use his sales skills to also sell devices and he’s never looked back.
  • Kris Senanu on his worst decision/regret; not having children earlier.

Kenya 2018 Budget Breakdown from Barclays

Barclays Bank has released a detailed budget breakdown of Kenya’s estimates for the year 2018/19. This was at an event for corporate investment banking clients of Barclays with a theme of “demystifying the national budget.” and which came a few days after Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Treasury, Henry Rotich had delivered his budget speech and estimates for the year to the country’s parliament.

The Barclays budget breakdown team featured Samantha Singh a Senior Analyst – Macro Research, Barclays Africa Group, Anthony Mulisa (Regional Treasurer East Africa), Peter Mungai (Head of Tax, Barclays Kenya) and James Agin, (Corporate Investment Banking Director). Anthony Kirui the Barclays Director of Markets said that while other accountants and audits had done budget analysis that mainly looked at the tax implications, the Barclays budget breakdown would focus on macroeconomic issues that affect their clients.

Some Highlights 

Revenue Targets:  The Kenya revenue estimates for 2018/19 are very bold, aiming for Kshs 1.9 trillion of domestic revenue, which is 40% more than last year. This is premised on a projected GDP growth for Kenya this year of 5,8%, but which Barclays expects will be at 5.5%

Tax Increases: Some new measure include import duties on iron, steel, oils, excise duties on money transfers sugar, private vehicles, and revised capital gains taxes, withholding taxes and business permit taxes. The Barclays team said that the income tax bill 2018 replaces some 1974 legislation that has not kept pace with time also changes the VAT act, and stamp duty acts.

The budget also moves several items from being zero-rated to be exempt, which means that suppliers are prohibited from claiming refunds and this will result in higher costs of products will be passed on to consumers. Also value added tax (VAT) on fuel products kick in from September 2018, while Kerosene taxes will also go up to match those of petrol.

While the CS mentioned reconsidering the 35% income tax on individuals, he was silent on that of corporations which are now likely to go to 35%, the highest in East Africa. The Barclays team said that Parliament needs to critically look at this, as the average corporate income tax rate across Africa is at 28%, while globally it is 25%. Also, the modalities of a new 0.05% excise duty on financial transfers of more than Kshs 500,000 ($5,000) need to be clarified.

Managing Deficits: Kenya’s deficits have been widening and this is due to lower revenues and higher expenditure, especially of recurrent items. Still, the government targets to reduce the fiscal deficit from 7.2% to 5.7% of GDP. The fiscal deficit is about Kshs 600 billion for 2018-19 is quite large; which the government plans to finance it with a mix of domestic and external finance, but Singh said it will be more difficult for Kenya and other African economies to get Euro Bonds as US interest rates are rising.

She said debt was not necessarily bad, but it was more about where the money went, which should be towards development, but not for recurrent expenditure or to defend currencies. The team was also concerned about recurrent expenditure which makes up 16% of GDP and 60% of the budget while development expenditure is 25% of the budget.

Barclays expect foreign exchange reserves to remain adequate but that with an IMF facility ending in September, Singh said that international investors would want to see Kenya affiliated with IMF and have some standby assistance (even though the IMF is not popular), or it will be hard for them to continue to finance the fiscal deficit.

Debt & Development: The Barclays team was concerned that 4 out of every 10 shillings raised this year will go to pay for debt, and they were also concerned about recurrent expenditure which makes up 16% of GDP and 60% of the budget. They noted that two years ago, 33% of the budget was going to development; now it is down to 25% and that is still going to come under more pressure as public salaries and recurrent expenditure goes up unless the government strengthens its public finance management, ensure efficiency in the collection of taxes, cut waste & corruption, and ropes in a large part of the population who are not making a fair contribution – and the team opined that if these three measures were achieved, the budget’s ambitious targets would be met and this could even enable future tax cuts.

Local Industry & Manufacturing Support: The Kenya government plans to grow manufacturing’s share of GDP from 9% to 15%. This will be enabled by raising customs taxes on iron, steel, textiles, footwear in order to promote local industries by protecting them from cheap imports. The government has also come up with offer off-peak electrical energy schemes at lower tariff’s to encourage businesses to manufacture over 24-hours.

Interest Rate Caps: In his budget speech last week, the CS Treasury requested a repeal of interest rate caps and the Barclays team was hopeful that would be approved by Parliament, saying that the cap had resulted in unintended consequences that were detrimental to the credit sector – with small businesses being unable to access bank credit and that t had also complicated monetary policy decision making.

Financial Behaviour: The team also discussed a draft financial markets conduct bill that was recently introduced as one of the alternative solutions to the interest caps and which is now going through public participation. They said that Barclays had given feedback on the bill which is likely to increase the cost of regulation through double licensing, and which is unclear on who it protects.  They said that the bill borrows from Western countries where there was aggressive credit expansion to people who should not have been borrowing, whereas here it is the opposite situation of there being too little credit.

Conclusion: The budget breakdown is a part of a series of sessions that Barclays will have on topical issues that impact their corporate clients, and another session will take place in Mombasa.