Category Archives: Kenya privatization

Kenya Government seeks Investors for Consolidated Bank

The Government of Kenya has invited local or foreign investors to buy a stake in Consolidated Bank. This comes after shareholders had approved an increase of the authorized capital of the bank by Kshs 3.5 billion through the creation of 175 million redeemable cumulative preference shares which will be allocated to the new investors.

The bank was ranked 30 out of 40 in terms of asset size at the beginning of the year.  Kenyan banks have been impacted by interest rate caps, more so small banks, and Consolidated has also been limited by its capital base which was Kshs 594 million at the beginning of the year. As at September 30 2018, the bank had Kshs 12.6 billion in assets, with Kshs 8.3 billion in deposits and Kshs 7.9 billion of loans.

The Government owns 85% of Consolidated through, stakes were previously partially owned by the Deposit Protection Fund, and through entities including Kenya National Assurance (2001), Kenya Pipeline Company, Kenya National Examination Council, Telkom Kenya, National Hospital Insurance Fund and LAPTRUST Retirement Services. The institutions had deposits in several banks that collapsed in the 1980’s  – such as Jimba Credit Corporation, Kenya Savings & Mortgages, Citizen Building Society, Estate Building Society, Estate Finance Company of Kenya, Business Finance Company, Home Savings and Mortgages, Union Bank of Kenya, and Nationwide Finance Company – and which were then “consolidated” into one restructured bank.

The Government had earlier injected Kshs 500 million of capital into the bank and appointed a transaction advisor in May 2018. Bidders are to register their details and submit their expressions of interest by email before the deadline for tenders on January 23, 2019.

Ethiopia privatization window opens

Several weeks of rapid news has seen Ethiopia privatization of state enterprises proposed as one of several changes to sustain what has been one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies. This all comes in the wake of a new era under Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali, who is leading change within the country and outside, such as on his recent visit to Kenya.

In the last few days the Ethiopian government has lifted a state of emergency, signaled an effective cease-fire with Eritrea, released long-jailed political prisoners, reshuffled security leaders, launched e-visa’s for all international arrivals with a view to dropping visa requirements for all other African nationals, and opened the Menelik palace to tourists among other changes, which have drawn comparisons or Abiy to Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia in the 1980’s.

The surprise was statements about plans for the massive Ethiopia privatization program in which the government would sell minority stakes in roads, logistics, shipping, and prime assets like Ethiopian Airlines, which just took delivery of its 100th aircraft, a Boeing 787, and which is the centrepiece of a logistical, tourism and business hub plan for the country. The program would also extend to two sectors that have been off-limits to foreign investors up to now;  banking and telecommunications.

For comparison, a 2012 list of Eastern Africa’s largest banks had the Commerical Bank of Ethiopia as the largest in the region followed by National Bank of Mauritius and KCB in Kenya, and at last measure (2017) had about  $17 billion of assets, 1,250 branches, and 16 million customers. And in telecommunications, Ethio Telecom, a government-owned monopoly has about 20 million customers in a country with a population of 107 million (many of them children), but still a low penetration rate. 

Ethiopia privatization of state enterprises is not a new item, but it is one which the government has put side as it pursued an industrialization model that has seen the building of new infrastructure, new factories, industrial parks, agro-processors, leather parks, vehicles manufacturers etc. but which has not been equally felt by the country’s large and young population – and this has seen wide-spread protests and a state of emergency that ushered in a new leadership with a new prime minister (Abiy). 

It also came after a lengthy story in the FT – Financial Times on the state of Ethiopia’s economy which cited the fatigue that China has with large investments and some projects that are operating below capacity coupled with the high government debt and shortage of foreign currency  – Two investors said that Sinosure, China’s main state-owned export and credit insurance company, was no longer extending credit insurance to Chinese banks for projects in Ethiopia as willingly as it used to. It notes that imports into the country are four times that of exports from  Ethiopia leading to the shortage of foreign currency.

The changes in Ethiopia could also be a warning to other African counties that have been moulded in a similar way to Ethiopia model, with heavy borrowing from China and building infrastructure and mega-projects for the future.  When the Ethiopia privatization program starts it’s unclear who will benefit and if Chinese companies will be given priority given that they have invested for a long period in Ethiopia compared to other new companies, such as Vodacom and MTN, who are excited about the prospects that are now opening up

Kenya 2018 Budget Policy and the Big Four

Kenya’s National Treasury has published the 2018 budget policy statement  (BPS) – titled “The Big Four” – creating jobs, transforming lives.

It has lots of mentions of the “Big Four” agenda which President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled in his Jamhuri Day speech (December 12, 2017) which are targets of what his government will aim to achieve in its second term. According to the BPS, the “Big Four” Plan (items are) increasing the share of manufacturing sector to GDP; ensuring all citizens enjoy food security and improved nutrition by 2022; expanding universal health coverage; and delivering at least five hundred thousand (500,000) affordable housing units.

BPS excerpts; 

  • The BPS assumes that GDP will be between 6% to 7% over the next five years, and nominal GDP will rise from Kshs 6.7 trillion ($66 billion) in 2016  to Kshs 14.3 trillion ($139 billion) in 2022.
  • The BPS assumptions are premised on improved collections and efficiencies at Kenya’s 47 developed counties to collect revenues, and for them to have and adhere to realistic budgets. Also, that there be reductions in duplication of roles, resulting in simpler government structure. Counties wages as a percent of their revenue has been 37-38% for the last three years.
  • The BPS cites a goal to double income tax from Kshs 625 billion in 2016-17 to Kshs 1.26 trillion in 2021-22 and mentions that a review of Kenya’s income tax code will be completed by June 2018 to enhance tax compliance and ensure the stability of tax revenue. 
  • The BPS notes that interest payments over the same period will rise from Kshs 271 billion to Kshs 491 billion and wages from Kshs 336 billion to Kshs 563 billion. Elsewhere it projects that wages which were 30% of gross national resource in 2016/17 will progressively reduce in subsequent years down to 23.4% in 2021/22.
  • The BPS cites public-private partnership projects that will be undertaken during the 2018-2020 period such as a second Nyali bridge, Lamu coal plant, Lamu port (3 berths),  Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo highway, airport rehabilitation car parks, conference centers, affordable housing projects, and even a Likoni crossing aerial cable car.
  • There are also 22 energy projects – a mix of geothermal, solar, wind, from which the government commits to purchase energy. These include Lamu coal ($360 million per year) and the Lake Turkana wind (€ 110 million per year).

Some risks noted in the BPS include, counties failing to collect & remit revenue, and the Kenya Deposit Insurance Corporation only covers 9.2% of bank assets (the figure should be closer to international goal of 20% to protect against systemic bank risks). Others are terrorist attacks, natural disasters, climate change, disruptions to mobile money systems, unfunded pension liabilities, and most important the sustainability of public debt.

Kenya Government DFI merger plan

This week came a report of circular regarding the merger of several government banks and development finance institutions (DFI’s). The institutions targeted to form the mega-development bank include the Kenya Industrial Estates, Uwezo Fund, Youth Enterprise Development Fund, Women Enterprise Development Fund, Development Bank of Kenya and Industrial Development Bank of Kenya.

Earlier, a Report of The Presidential Taskforce on Parastatal Reforms that was presented to President Kenyatta in October 2013 had proposed merging Kenya Industrial Estates, IDB Capital, Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation, and the Agricultural Finance Corporation. The rationale was that they were all fragmented, sector-specific, ineffective DFI’s with overlapping mandates that should be merged into a Kenya Development Bank (KDB). The committee also proposed the creation of a new Kenya Export-Import Bank (Kenya EXIMBANK) to promote Kenya’s exports through the provision of export and import finance and related supporting activities.

This is not new, but a variation of an older plan to merger government-owned, or controlled, banks. It now excludes two banks that may or not be in talks – KCB has been linked to a move to acquire National Bank. It also leaves out Consolidated Bank, the Kenya Tourism Development Corporation, and the Agricultural Financial Corporation, but now includes new government entities that have been created to advance funding to special groups like industrial entrepreneurs, women and youth entrepreneurs.

But speaking at an event launching a partnership between the Youth Enterprise Development Fund and the UBA Kenya Foundation, YEDF Chairman, Ronnie Osumba,  said that the pending DFI merger would take into consideration the continuity of all ongoing affirmative action fund programs.

EDIT May 15, 2018

 

At the second cabinet meeting for 2018, chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Cabinet:

  • Approved the merger of the  Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC), IDB Capital and the Tourism Finance Corporation to create the Kenya Development Bank, a single cross-sector development finance institution with sufficient scale, scope, and resources to play a catalytic role in Kenya’s economic development.
  • Approved the proposed Public Finance Management (Biashara Kenya Fund) Regulations, 2018 to guide the operations of the proposed Biashara Kenya Fund which will be established after the proposed merger of Uwezo Fund, Youth Enterprise Development Fund, Women Enterprise Development Fund and Micro and Small Enterprise Authority (MSEA).
  • Approved the proposed Public Finance Management (Tourism Promotion Fund) Regulations, 2018 to guide the operations of the proposed Tourism Promotion Fund.

Government Guarantee to Kenya Airways and Shareholding Increase

Today the Kenya government signed guarantee deals to secure Kenya Airways (KQ) continued financial support from EXIM Bank US, and a consortium of Kenya banks and also converted its debt to more equity, significantly altering the ownership structure of the airline.

The Government had advanced loans of Kshs 4.2 billion and $197million to KQ, and the debt conversion will see a 19.1% increase in their shareholding. Aside from, that Kenyan banks, which were owed $217 million, received a 38.1% shareholding in KQ in exchange for $167 million of that debt.

The $267 million government debt and bank conversions are part of a series of complex restructuring deals. The resultant shareholding of KQ will be Kenya Government 48.9%, Kenyan banks 38.1%, KLM 7.8%, and other shareholders will have 5.2%, after a  massive dilution that shareholders approved at an EGM in August 2017. Not all bank and all government debts were converted as that would have seen the government stake go above 51% and they wanted KQ to remain a private company, not a state/parastatal one. The restructured board will comprise 3 directors from the Government, 2 from the banks, and KLM will have 1 representative.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said that the guarantee and restructuring by the government was not a bailout and the Government expected repayments of dividends from KQ within the next decade. The Government had been faced with two options with regard to KQ one of which (folding the airline) it could not pursue, and it chose the other, to support the airline, for which, the Cabinet confirmed through an independent business case study by the Seabury Group, that the airline could, through shareholder support, be turned around and have a viable future. He said the capital optimization would enable the airline to trade on its own balance sheet.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said that aviation sector, led by Kenya Airways,  contributes 10% to Kenya’s GDP and was a central engine that supports other economic activities like investments, horticulture, and tourism. Also by having a strong KQ, this would strengthen the case to make Nairobi’s JKIA airport a regional hub and his Ministry was in the process of finalizing plans to add a second runway and expanding existing terminals to enable the airport to serve 12 million travelers a year.

The bank shareholding will be through KQ Lenders Co, a special purpose vehicle that will be managed by Minerva Fiduciary Services of Mauritius and the agreement was signed by Madabhushi Soundararajan a career-banker, as director.