Category Archives: NSE bonds

Absa Kenya on Wills, Trusts and Succession Planning

Absa Kenya has been holding thought leadership seminars since their rebrand in February 2020.

This week they had an investor education connect session on wealth management, with a focus on wills, trusts and succession planning which featured Madabhushi Soundarajan (Managing Director, MTC Trust), Peter Waiyaki (Partner at Mboya, Wangong’u & Waiyaki Advocates) and Anthony Mwithiga (CEO, Absa Asset Management).

Some excerpts 

Wills:

  • People don’t do wills because they think they have nothing – but anyone over 18 who has been working has something to give. 
  • Another excuse of some educated Kenyans is they think they are courting death or will be marked for death by their families
  • Can do a will in an hour or five years. It does not have to be expensive or complex.  
  • A will should have two things to help a will (i)  a residual clause. assets grow after the will make sure any other assets be distributed the way the old “any other assets  (you don’t have o make a new will (ii) creation of a testamentary trust. 
  • Let your family know where your will is kept. If two wills emerge, the latter one will be used. If a will is destroyed, it is not valid.
  • If someone remarries, it invalidates a will because they are considered to have new dependents. 
  • Do not include matrimonial property should not be in a will. Or joint owner – when someone dies the spouse inherits the full property. They should not be in the will. 
  • Also don’t put investment or trust property in a will.
  • Proof of dependence: wives and children do not need to prove they are dependents. This also includes conceived but not yet born and adopted kids. But parents or siblings of a deceased must prove they are dependent. Also in Kenya, a husband/man will have to prove  he was being supported by a woman.
  • Covid situation: Oral wills are only valid for 3 months and must be mentioned in the presence of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries. And for a written will, someone in a hospital, surrounded by relatives is not considered to have the freedom to write a will. 
  • Without a will, only the family of a deceased person can inherit from the estate. No gifts to charities, churches etc. are recognized. 
  • Do not put assets in a will that already have nominated beneficiaries elsewhere e.g. life insurance, pension funds. 

Trusts:

  • Have the philosophy of giving things up as you will nor carry your wealth to the grave – so start thinking about preservation.
  • Banks are getting worried about lending to trusts. 
  • A trust is not a legal entity, a foundation is a better legal entity that can be created to run a school or a hospital.
  • Most common are discretionary trusts and others are ones that founders can create to run businesses for their families
  • A trust is a lengthy document. In a trust, you can exclude rogue children. 
  • To set up a trust; define the objectives, the trust structure, the beneficiaries, the trustees (ideally a corporate) and seek professional advice. 

Investments:

  • Use professionals e.g. in a unit trust to administer investments if you are too busy. 
  • If you have a vision, take a lead and invest in it so that others will follow.  
  • the realty over the last five year is the property prices can go down, unbelievable to many investors of 15 years ago. Covid has hit offices and malls, but there are still investments in residential, logistic and warehousing ventures.
  • Attributes of an ideal asset; gives returns, it should grow, it should be liquid, be understandable and It should also be secure (legal ownership & from damage). Individuals and families have investment portfolios, as it is not possible to get one asset to full all these attributes. 
  • The investment universe encompasses money markets, treasury bills, bank deposits, and listed shares which now includes a New Gold ETF.  Also unlisted shares (shares in a business stems/OTC), real estate, and alternatives such as derivatives, commodities, currencies and infrastructure projects which is a new asset class open to pension funds.

Suggestions:

  • Everyone should discover what type of investor they are and what stage they are on the life journey to understand what to invest in. 
  • Think investments beyond Covid-19.
  • Write a will today; there is no way of running from your dependents –  except through trusts, which allow one to better organize estates.
  • The best non-taxable investment in Kenya is infrastructure bonds.

Kenya Tax Changes in 2020

A look at some of the Tax changes that become effective on January 1, 2020, as a result of the Finance Bill 2019 that was signed by the President on 7 November 2019.

The highlight was the repeal of Section 33B of the Banking Act which had put an interest rate cap on commercial bank loans, but there are also other taxation clauses of note.

  • Import Declaration Fee levy has been increased from 2% to 3.5%. Also, the Railway Development Levy, which is an important component of paying for the SGR, has been increased from 1.5% to 2%.
  • Companies that list under the Nairobi Securities Exchange’s GEMS program for the next three years can be forgiven tax penalties and interest, provided they pay the principal amount. This move to encourage listing at the NSE became effective in November 2019. But if they delist within five years, that window lapses and all taxes due before listing will again become payable.
  • Taxes also go up for cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, fruit wines and spirits.
  • Motor vehicle excise taxes go up from 20 to 25% for cars over 1500 cc, and that for station wagons and race cars go up from 30 to 35%, but for electric-powered motor vehicles, that goes down from 20 to 10%.
  • Sports betting companies take another hit with a 20% tax lopped on to each bet amount, regardless of the outcome of the wager.
  • New economy taxes: The new year ushers in taxes on the digital economy market place – this encompasses “platforms that enable interaction between buyers and sellers of goods & services through electronic means” who are now liable for income tax and value-added tax (VAT). Along with that, a taxpayer PIN is mandatory when one is registering for a paybill and till numbers (to process mobile payments) through a telephone company
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT’s), which were exempt from corporate tax are now also exempt from income tax.
  • There is an income tax exemption for people who register under the Government’s Ajira Digital (online work) program from January 2020 to December 2022.
  • Green bonds: Interest income on all listed infrastructure bonds, or green bonds,that are a minimum three years to maturity will be exempt from income tax as will income on the National Housing Development Fund.
  • Turnover tax of 3% has been reintroduced and will be payable monthly by any business whose turnover does not exceed Kshs 5 million (~$50,000) in any year. EDIT – does not apply to companies already registered for VAT or those earning employment income rental income, engaged in management & professional services and limited liability companies. There is also a Presumptive Tax, a new tax that is 15% of the annual fee paid for a license e.g. to operate in Nairobi County and that can be offset when paying the turnover tax.
  • Environmental stuff: Plastic recycling companies will get a preferential corporate tax rate of 15% for five years and machinery and equipment used for plastic recycling plants are now VAT exempt. But, going the other way, equipment for the development of solar and wind energy, including batteries, which were previously exempt from VAT, now require the Cabinet Secretary for Energy to approve any such exemptions.
  • A taxpayer PIN is now mandatory when one is renewing membership in a professional body or with any licensing agency.
  • Mitumba and shipment consolidators are now recognized – if they have warehouses in the country of origin and Kenya, and have no history of dealing with substandard or counterfeit goods.

Meanwhile, the President said at the Jamhuri Day celebrations (on December 12) that a mortgage scheme he had previously proposed, and which entailed a deduction of 1.5% of salaries, would not be mandatory. Parliament resumes in February 2020 and we shall see if they amend that.

Extracts from reports done by KPMG East Africa, RSM Eastern Africa LLP and KN Law LLP .

Acorn Green Bond for Student Accommodation in Nairobi

This week saw the approval of the first-ever green bond in Kenya, issued by Acorn Holdings to fund student accommodation projects around Nairobi.

Acorn is one of the largest developers in Kenya, having delivered over 50 projects worth $550 million in the last decade. These include the local headquarters for Coca Cola, Equity Bank and Deloitte, and the UAP Tower, which is currently the tallest occupied building in Nairobi. They plan to raise up to Kshs 5 billion ($50 million) investors through a bond that has a bullet maturity in five years and which pays 12.25% interest. The green bond issue is partially guaranteed by GuarantCo up to a maximum of $30 million.

Acorn has ventured into purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), under two brands, Qwetu and Qejani. They are developing projects close to universities around Nairobi, which target students at campuses of USIU, University of Nairobi, Daystar, KCA and Riara universities.

This is to address the current situation where the increasing number of students at universities live in sub-standard housing, without amenities, in poor condition or which are considered unsafe. These are mostly in older building not designed for students such as former domestic-staff quarters. Yet students require reliability water & electricity, Wi-Fi, security, furnishings etc. and which ensure security and privacy.

Qejani is a high-rise, mass-market, offering which students can rent for between Kshs 7,500 -12,500 ($125) per month for single, double or quadruple room accommodations, while Qwetu is their premium brand.  The funding will go towards completing student accommodation facilities including Qwetu USIU Road 3 & Road 4, Sirona Phase 1 & 2, Bogani East Road Qwetu, Bogani East Road Qejani, and Nairobi West Qwetu.

The green bond offer, which is restricted to sophisticated investors, opened on 16 August and closes on 27 September 2019. Allotments will be done on 30 September 2019, with the minimum level of subscription set at 40% for it to be deemed a success.

Other aspects of the bond issue:

  • It is restricted to sophisticated (institutional) investors.
  • Opened on 16 August and closes on 27 September 2019. Allotments will be done on 30 September 2019.
  • The minimum level of subscription is set at 40% for it to be deemed a success.
  • Stanbic Kenya is the issuing and paying agent for the green bonds, and they will confirm that funds will not be used for more than 65% of the project costs with Acorn contributing the other 35%. 
  • Helios Partners are investors in Acorn.
  • GuarantCo is sponsored by the governments of the UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia and Sweden and by FMO, the Dutch development bank.
  • Moody’s Investors Service has assigned a provisional B1 to the Acorn bond.
  • The issue will be certified as a green bond given that Acorn’s projects are constructed in accordance with the International Finance Corporation – IFC’s EDGE (“excellence in design for greater efficiencies”) requirements for sustainable buildings and certified by the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) “.. they aim to steer construction in rapidly urbanizing economies onto a more low-carbon path. Certification is based on benefits generated from providing solutions in construction and operation: energy, water, and materials.” 
  • The green bonds program is endorsed by the Central Bank of Kenya, the Capital Market Authority and the National Treasury.

EDIT October 3, 2019.

Edit: Jan 13 2020: Acorn Holdings listed the Kshs 4.3 billion green bond on the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

https://twitter.com/NSE_PLC/status/1216671628752494592

EDIT Jan 20 2020: President Uhuru Kenyatta rang the bell to mark the cross listing of Kenya’s first green bond on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

https://twitter.com/LSEplc/status/1219251610624438273

Edit: October 27 2020: Acorn plans to transfer its partnership interest in Acorn Project II to a new Acorn Development REIT (D-REIT) that has been approved by the CMA.

To be updated.

Book Review – King Leopold’s Ghost

A quick reading of a fascinating book, by Adam Hochschild, about the history of the Congo between the years 1885 and 1908 when it was controlled by King Leopold II of Belgium.

Starting Out: The Berlin conference did not partition Africa, the spoils were too large at that point it took many more treaties. At the time of the conference, Europeans thought of African wealth in terms of coastlines, not the interior. Leopold got the centre of Africa while other nations focused on the coast as they did not realize how vast the Congo was.

Revenue: Etat indépendant du Congo (the Congo Free State) was a very profitable venture for Leopold thanks to ivory and rubber. The Congo was a private state of the King and got half the profits from concession companies. Records from one of them, the Anglo Belgian Indian Rubber Exploration Company, showed that ABIR spent 1.35 Francs per kilo to harvest rubber in the Congo and ship it to their headquarters in Antwerp where it sold for up to 10 Francs per kilo – and in six years to 1898 rubber prices had gone up thirty times. Transportation costs aside, harvesting wild rubber required no cultivation, no fertilizer and no capital investment, only labour, for which the concession companies brutally used the people of the Congo as slave labour.

Leopold kept the Congo profits as secret as possible so as not to stir up demands that he pay back sums owed to the Belgian government. To achieve this the Congo state did not publish a budget and it presented understated revenue reports.

Bonds: With time, Leopold was able to issue bonds that brought in as much revenue as rubber. He issued bonds worth 100 million Francs (half a billion in today’s currency). Some were for as long as 99 years and he knew paying back the principal would be someone else’s problems. He even wrote to the Pope, urging the Catholic Church to buy Congo bonds as that would promote the spread of religion.

Use of Funds The money raised with bonds was for development in the Congo but little of it was spent there. The funds went to build monuments, new palace wings, museums including at the seaside resort of Ostend, a golf course at Klemskerke, renovations to a luxurious home at Laeken etc. many of which he gave back to the country with great fanfare. There was also an incomplete World School of Colonialism in Belgium.

Negotiations Out: Once the extent of the atrocities done to the people in the Congo were exposed by authors, organizations and leaders in the UK and US, there was pressure for Leopold to sell. He argued that if Belgium did not take it soon, some powerful country might, such as France and Germany who were jealous of the rubber profits from Congo.

Negotiation began in 1906 but got bogged down as the Belgian Government could not get a full accounting of the state of finances in the Congo, and included some entities that had been incorporated in Belgium, Germany and France.

The End: Finally, it was agreed Leopold would give the Congo up to the Government of Belgium in exchange for them assuming 110 million Francs of debt. This comprised bonds that he had dispensed over the year to his friends and also included 32 million of bonds that he himself never paid back. They also agreed to pay 45 million Francs towards completing building projects of the King, with a third going to complete the one at Laeken. Leopold was also to receive 50 million as gratitude for his sacrifices made to the Congo, and the change of ownership took place in November 1908. After Leopold died, his family and the Belgian government continued to try to clean up issues to do with the Congo and a lot of records of the atrocities of the era were lost.

EDIT Extras

  • Versions of book, including kindle ones, are on Amazon.
  • The last comeprehensive book I read on the country was Michael Wrong’s In the Footstep of Mr. Kurtz about Mobutu Sese Seko and his years as President.

Kenya Eurobond 2018 A to Z (Part II)

Excerpts from reading the prospectus for Kenya’s 2018 Eurobond issues totaling $2 billion (~Kshs 202 billion). 

Advisors:  joint lead managers were Citigroup Global Markets, J.P. Morgan Securities, Standard Bank of South Africa and Standard Chartered Bank. The fiscal/paying agent was Citibank (London), Registrar was Citigroup Global Markets (Deutschland), legal advisors were White & Case LLP and Allen & Overy LLP (English and US law), and Coulson Harney LLP and Kaplan & Stratton Advocates (Kenya Law) and the listing agent was Arthur Cox (Dublin).

Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Securities, Standard Bank of South Africa and Standard Chartered Bank each committed to subscribe for $250 million of the 2028 and $250 million of the 2048 bond issues

Codes: for the 2028 Notes: 491798 AG9 / US491798AG90 / 178426192 XS1781710543 / 178171054 and for the 2048 Notes: 491798 AH7 / US491798AH73 / 178426478 XS1781710626 / 178171062

Debt Rescheduling: Kenya has approached the Paris Club three times to seek debt relief and rescheduling; in January 1994 for $535 million, in November 2000 over $301 million and in January 2004 over $353 million. Also to the London Club 1998 over $70 million and in 2003 over $23 million.

Default (defined as): Failure to pay 15 days after due date, or issuer (Kenya government) ceases to be a member of the IMF.

Denomination: The Notes are issued in registered form in denominations of US$200,000 and integral multiples of US$1,000.

Disclosure: The Issuer will publish all notices and other matters required to be published (regarding Condition 14, 10, 13: on the website of the National Treasury.

Finance Management: Kenya’s law provides that: over the medium term, a minimum of 30% of the national budget shall be allocated to development expenditure and the national government’s expenditure on wages and benefits for its public officers must not exceed 35%  per cent. of total national government revenue and over the medium term, the national government’s borrowings should be used only for the purpose of financing development expenditure and not for recurrent expenditure. .

IMF: The second and third reviews of the IMF programme due in June 2017 and December 2017 could not be completed on time due to the prolonged election period. Accordingly, no funds under the SBA-SCF 2 facility are available to Kenya until it has reached certain targets to the satisfaction of the IMF, which will be assessed at the next review. But, even if the IMF agrees to make this or another programme available upon conclusion of their review, the government intends to continue to treat the arrangements as precautionary and does not intend to draw on the facility unless exogenous shocks lead to an actual balance of payments need.

Income tax (enhancement of): A review of the Income Tax Act is ongoing and is targeted to be completed by mid-2018. In an effort to boost domestic revenue mobilisation, the government is undertaking reforms to bolster revenue yields  including roll out of the integrated customs management system, implementation of the regional electronic cargo tracking (RECTS) to tackle transit diversion; data matching and use of third-party data to enhance compliance, integration of iTax with IFMIS to ensure timely collection of withholding VAT and other withholding taxes; expansion of tax base by targeting the informal sector, betting, lotteries and gaming; pursuit non-filers and increased focus on taxation of international transactions and transfer pricing and enhance investigations and intelligence capacity to support revenue collection.

Informal economy: A significant portion of the Kenyan economy is not recorded and is only partially taxed, resulting in a lack of revenue for the government, ineffective regulation, unreliability of statistical information (including the understatement of GDP and the contribution to GDP of various sectors) and inability to monitor or otherwise regulate a large portion of the economy.

Interest Rates: The yield of the 2028 Notes is 7.25% and the yield of the 2048 Notes is 8.25% in each case on an annual basis. The yields were calculated at the issue date.

Listing: The Eurobond Notes will not be issued, offered or sold in Kenya, and the notes may not be offered or sold in the United States. Applications have been made to the Irish Stock Exchange at a cost of 5,500 euros and the London Stock Exchange for GBP 4,200.

Litigation:  The Issuer has appointed the High Commissioner of the Republic of Kenya in London, presently located at 45 Portland Place, London W1B 1AS as its agent for service of process in relation to any proceedings (“Proceedings”) before the English courts permitted by

Indebtedness:  Total national government debt stood at US$41.2 billion as at 30 June 2017, representing a 17% increase from June 2016. The government is permitted under the terms of the PFMA to incur debt within the limits set by Parliament, currently set at 50% of GDP in net present value terms. Following the issue of the (Eurobond) Notes, the total net present value of debt as a percentage of GDP is expected to nearly reach the 50% limit. Although the government may be restricted from incurring further public debt under such circumstances, the Government will be seeking to refinance or repay near-term maturities, and therefore expects to maintain the ratios within the set limits.

Total multilateral debt increased by 15.8% to stand at US $8.0 billion at 30 June 2016 while total bilateral debt increased to US $5.3 billion at 30 June 2016, mainly driven by a rise in stock of debt from the People’s Republic of China, which increased by 21.2%. Also, as at 30 June 2017, the national government guaranteed approximately KES135.1 billion of the indebtedness of the non-financial public sector include Kshs 77 billion to Kenya Airways last year.

Purpose Kenya expects the net proceeds of the issue of the Eurobond Notes, before expenses, to amount to approximately US$1,999,600,000 which it intends to use for financing development expenditures and to refinance part of its obligations outstanding under certain syndicated loan agreements. According to the “Plan of Distribution”, Kenya syndicated loans of from October 2015 (debt now $646 million) and March 2017 ($1 billion)  and proceed from the new February 2018 issue will be used to pay all of the 2015 loan and part of the 2017 loan and  to “manage the maturity profile of the government’s debt.”

Repayments: (for both issues) payable semi-annually in arrears on 28 February and 28 August in each year commencing on 28 August 2018. The Eurobond Notes are not redeemable prior to maturity.

Withholding Taxes: All payments in respect of the Eurobond Notes by or on behalf of the Issuer shall be made without withholding or deduction of any present or future taxes,

See Part I about the 2014 Eurobond issue. 

1USD  = Kshs 101, 1 GBP = Kshs  139, 1 Euro = Kshs 123