Category Archives: NSE investor awareness

President pledges NSE Revival through IPOs

President William Ruto visited the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and rang the opening bell, then listened to financial and government leaders explain the situation in the financial markets.

  • NSE Chairman, Kiprono Kittony lamented that there had been no new government listings in 13 years. This stems from challenges and long procedures in the privatization process and they have had talks with Moses Kuria, the designated Cabinet Secretary for Trade, Investment and Industry,.
  • James Mwangi CEO of the Equity Bank CEO said his group was the ultimate hustler fund that grew from being a Nyagatugu village mutual fund, owned by 2,500 farmers. In 2005 and 2006 it converted into a bank and listed on the NSE which enabled them to then raise $185 million (Kshs 11 billion) from Helios. Today, the original investors have seen a 159,000% return on their investment and Equity, with Kshs 1.4 trillion of assets, has the sovereign fund of Norway (Norfund) and the World Bank Group as its largest shareholders.  
  • Lengthy Privations: Engineer Kinyanjui of the PPP said privatization as currently structured has 16-17 steps and each takes 5 months. The government owns Kshs 426 billion of investments (at the NSE) and can’t sell one share without going through a privatization law process. Entities like ICDC (now under KDC) have mature investments they are ready to exit from and support the government program and the delay in privatization means that when they divest, there is an erosion of value. 
  • Pension Opportunity: Hosea Kili, the Managing Director of Laptrust said the Lamu Port, SGR and Nairobi Expressway could have been financed by the local pension industry if they had been structured for them and lamented that they are unable to deploy funds as there are no new listings. He added that Laptrust plans to list Kshs 7 billion of their Kshs 17 billion property portfolio as an I-REIT. 
  • The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) boss said that 15 million Kenyans are not in any pension schemes. At the same time the NSSF, which has shares in 29 listed companies, is 3% of the NSE, has reached the limits of what it can invest in some counters.  

After listening to leaders, President Ruto said the government would revive the capital markets by privatizing and listing 5-10 state enterprises in the next 12 months and that the government would also seek to float a domestic dollar-denominated bond.

He directed that the government review of privatization law to review sections that inhibit the process, or he would move to repeal it. He also asked private companies to step forward and list and said the government was willing to remove some impediments including forgiveness of some tax sins. 

In his closing remarks, the President: 

  • Announced that Bio Foods and Credit Bank have obtained approvals to list at the NSE.
  • Invited the pension companies to a meeting at State House a few days later. 
  • He also put a fire under the boards of Nairobi International Financial Centre and the Privatization Commission for not delivering.

Here’s a stream of the launch of the enhanced NSE Market Place event

Olympia Turnaround? Part III

The Olympia Capital Holdings 2022 shareholders AGM at Nairobi club on Friday, August 26 started with a bit of confusion as the Chairman, Dr. Chris Obura, insisted that shareholders needed to wear masks unless they were speaking. It was attended by about 100 shareholders and was the first physical meeting in three years as the last two had been held virtually. The Chairman said the company had found that hosting virtual AGMs was more costly than physical ones and so the company had decided to try one, even as Covid-19 protocols remain.

The meeting took about an hour with lots of Q&A with shareholders about not having seen the documents they were being asked to approve, such as the annual report and minutes of last year’s online AGM (posted online and which the registrars had emailed) and the lack of a dividend.

Governance: The company has a unique structure with a holding company and subsidiaries and has primarily relocated its business to Botswana. The Managing Director was not at the AGM as the Chairman said that he works full-time in Botswana. This has been the case since the passing of their previous Managing Director Michael Matu in 2020.

Manufacturing Cost: During the Q&A, the Chairman mentioned that, of their Kshs 500 million in sales, 400 million is from Botswana where Olympia now does its floor tiles manufacturing, after halting that in Kenya. He said that the cost of manufacturing was one-third cheaper in Botswana than in Kenya.

Dividend when? Olympia can only pay dividends when its various subsidiaries pay dividends to the parent company – and the one in Botswana was not allowed by law to pay until it had settled a bank debt. But now that the loan was capitalized, a dividend may come to Olympia’s shareholders from profits next year.

Goodies: The Chairman said they had not expected many shareholders to show up and that the venue had only set out a small amount of tea and snacks. Nevertheless, the board agreed on Kshs 500 cash as lunch allowance and each shareholder was paid on the way out of the meeting.

Verdict: Looks like shareholders have a pent-up demand to attend physical AGMs after two years of virtual ones, that were occasioned by Covid-19.

Absa Kenya to pay an interim dividend for 2022

Absa Bank Kenya continued to show strong growth in a complex environment of macroeconomic challenges and high inflation. At the announcement of financial results for the first half of 2022 in Nairobi, Managing Director Jeremy Awori said the institution has transformed into a financial services giant with new offers in bank assurance, wealth management, risk management, research, and asset finance. These are all built around being a digital-first entity with products like Timiza which added 4 million accounts, leading to a five-fold growth in the number of customers they serve.

In the first half of the year, Absa Kenya had its fastest revenue growth in a decade with income growing by 17% to Kshs 20.9 billion and they recorded a pre-tax profit of Kshs 9.1 billion, a 15% increase. Loans were up 19% to Kshs 262 billion and deposits up 7% to Kshs 282 billion, and Absa Kenya assets are now Kshs 445 billion.

Absa Kenya’s Chief Strategy Officer Moses Muthui said that revenue was now growing faster than their peers in the banking industry and their strategy will be to stay relevant to customers by growing opportunities that offer sustainable and inclusive growth. Absa’s cost-to-income ratio is 42%, against a five-year target of 45% and this allows the bank to invest in areas to innovate for customers. As part of their next five-year strategic plan, starting from 2023, they will grow into other new businesses like asset management and consumer payments businesses such as diaspora remittance. They will re-enter the custody business that Barclays exited a decade ago to serve international clients as well expand their investment banking services across East Africa.

To give returns to investors and enhance shareholder value, Absa Bank Kenya will pay a Kshs 0.20 per share dividend, amounting to Kshs 1.09 billion, one of the few institutions that will pay an interim dividend. Already shareholders of the Nairobi-listed bank have one of the highest returns on equity at 23% and dividend yields.

Chase Bank’s Long Tails

Nearly six years after the collapse of Chase Bank, the Capital Markets Authority has come down with harsh penalties on some of its former senior managers, directors and auditors. This is not over the collapse of the bank, but over misleading statements, failure to disclose material information or conflict of interest in the issue of a bond that the bank  floated in May 2015. Its first tranche raised Kshs 4.8 billion, 10 months before ether bank close. The bond’s Information Memorandum (IM) indicated that the funds raised would be used for branch expansion, IT investments, and new products. 

Penalties Levied:

  • Kshs 10 million against Deloitte, the reporting accountant for the bond note program and its partners will be reported to ICPAK.
  • Kshs 5 million fines each against Duncan Kabui, the former Group Managing Director,  Paul Njaga the former CEO and Ken Obimbo the former Group Finance Director. In addition, Kabui is debarred from being a director or partner in an issuer on the Kenyan capital markets for 10 years, while Obimbo is debarred similarly for 5 years.  
  • Kshs 2.5 million each against the former members of the Audit & Risk Committee – Laurent Demey, Muthoni Kuria and Rafiq Sharrif. The fine also was levied against Anthony Gross, who was Chairman of the Committee and who was ordered to attend corporate governance training.
  • Kshs 1 million, a smaller fine, against Richard Carter, a former director of Chase.  

 The Business Daily (BD) had reported on some findings that the CMA had made unearthed at Chase when it went reviewed its IT systems and which the CMA felt that Deloitte should have flagged such as a Kshs 14 billion hole at Chase, an IT override switch, and a Kshs 1 billion bonus paid to Chase’s former Chairman Zafrullah Khan that was later shared with other directors and executives.  The fines are against 9 of 12 people targeted, and who appeared before an ad hoc committee put together by the CMA but 3 others went to court and halted the CMA probe proceedings against them – and the BD has identified them as Khan, former Finance GM Makarios Agumbi and former Corporate Assets Manager James Mwaura.

In another matter, a judge has ordered SBM Bank which took over the assets of Chase Bank to compensate AfrAsia Bank of Mauritius for a $7.5 million deposit that they had placed at Chase just before the bank was closed in April 2015. The judge said that due process was not followed in notifying depositors about the transfer of the bank assets from Chase to SBM and found that SBM, not the Kenya Deposit Insurance Corporation, is where AfrAsia should have pursued their claims. Will this open the door to other aggrieved depositors in collapsed banks like Chase, Dubai, and Imperial? – Read more in the Business Daily.  

Related:

  • Earlier updates in the Chase and Imperial bank cases 
  • Past CMA actions on company directors on governance matters. 

Kenya Tax Changes in 2022

A few weeks before Kenya’s August 2022 general election, Parliament is to debate and pass the Finance Bill which was published in April. Some measures it proposed will become effective in July 2022 and others in January 2023.

The tax proposals are to meet the country’s 2002/23 budget with a planned expenditure of Kshs 3.4 trillion which includes Kshs 2.14 trillion of ordinary revenue. The Finance Bill will need to be passed along with the Budget Estimates, Appropriations Bill and County Allocation of Revenue Bill. A recurring concern with investing in Kenya is the ever-evolving tax code that changes from year to year, adding, taking away or adjusting taxes and deductions.

Local tax advisory firms such as PWC, KPMG, and Deloitte have published summaries and interpretations of some of the tax proposals,

Excerpts

Agriculture: Removal of an exemption of clearing or planting on agricultural land.

Digital Economy: The digital service tax doubles from 1.5% to 3%. What impact will that have on e-commerce in Kenya?

Energy: Briquettes using sustainable fuel are exempted from VAT

Financial Markets Capital gains tax (CGT) goes up from 5% to 15%. Also, gains by foreign investors trading in derivatives will attract a withholding tax of 15%.

Foods: Excise duty of 15% on imported potatoes, excise duty goes up slightly on fruit juices, beer, other alcohol, wines, imported sugar, and white chocolate. Also, excise tax is added on electronic cigarettes, ice cream not containing cocoa, and liquid nicotine.

Local medicine manufacturing: in the recovery from covid-19, plants aiming to manufacture pharmaceutical products will be exempt from paying import declaration fee (3.5%) and railway development levy (2%). Also while a 25% excise duty on imported glass is imposed, it excludes those for pharmaceuticals.

Media: 15% excise tax added on advertisements by betting firms and alcohol companies.

NGOs: Trusts must now use taxpayer PINs to transact.

Sports Betting: Excise duty goes up from 7.5% to 20%.

Big Stick Enforcement: To appeal against a tax claim, someone must deposit 50% of the amount upfront in a special account at the CBK. Also, ships, planes, and motor vehicles can have a payment claim registered against their ownership by KRA, in case their owners have not paid other taxes. The law currently only applies to land & buildings. Also, multinationals with a turnover of Kshs 95 billion ($750 million) will be required to file Kenya-specific reports within a year of their financial year-ends.

Also, see a KPMG analysis in 2021.