Category Archives: Safaricom

Safaricom’s Pochi

During Safaricom’s 20th anniversary celebrations last week, the company announced the launch of a new M-Pesa business product called launched “Pochi la Biashara” as part of a commitment to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

This comes shortly after they rolled out a new app for business payments (Lipa Na Mpesa app) and which had racked up 240,000 enterprises in a few months. What’s different about the new business pouch (Pochi) product? It’s targeted at informal business people, such as some food vendors, kiosk owners, and boda boda (motorcycle) operators who are not formally registered as businesses.

  • No loss of Fuliza repayment: Sometimes  people with Fuliza loans (a useful instant temporary overdraft on their phones that are replenished by the next infusion of cash) can sometimes find the service an inconvenience, as they may have an urgent or immediate use for an incoming payment – so to get around this, they ask for the money to be sent to a different phone number. Pochi eliminates this need to juggle two phone lines, as business payments do not go to replenish Fuliza – and borrowers can later repay these at a more convenient time.
  • Anonymity: For customers wary about their telephone numbers being misused when they pay via M-Pesa, a phone number is not visible when they make a payment to Pochi. This has become a pet peeve as they sometimes have their numbers harvested and they later get advertising messages or even face personal harassment. To pay to Pochi, they dial *334#.
  • Simple sign up for business owners. There’s no paperwork and they do not incur charges as they receive payments. 
  • No reversals of payments without the business owner’s permission.

So one can now buy from a roadside hawker or at a highway market on the way to Nakuru without worrying that their M-Pesa details (name and phone number) will be used to pester them

Likewise, the vendor has no worry that someone who buys food or curios from them will try and reverse the payment as soon as they drive off.

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa also said the company is going through a competitive process to enter Ethiopia as they plan to make M-Pesa, which now processes 21 million transactions a day, the financial service platform for Africa.

M&A Moment: September 2020

Since the last update of deals in the East Africa region, we are six months into the era of Coronavirus and its effects across the world.

Merger and acquisition (M&A) deal are still happening, with some older ones having been in the pipeline for months before. The impact of the pandemic has also created some new M&A deals and partnerships, while reducing the value of others, and even killing off some earlier-announced merger deals, in scenarios that had all been foreseen by deal-makers.

Here are some notable deals (1 US dollar equals 108 Kenya shillings)

Airline/ Oil/Energy/Mining M&A

  • Jubilee Holdings is acquiring an additional 9.4% share in Uganda’s Bujagali Hydropower from SN Power for $40 million to now own 18.2% of the project as part of a diversified portfolio that includes quoted stocks, bonds, real estate and interests in Farmer’s Choice, PDM and Seacom. 
  • The proposal to nationalize Kenya Airways through a National Aviation Management Bill, which grew out of a proposal by the airline to manage Nairobi’s main airport, will be debated in Kenya’s Parliament over the next few months.
  • Shareholders of Tullow Oil approved the sale of its entire interest in Blocks 1, 1A, 2 and 3A in Uganda and the proposed East African crude oil pipeline System to Total. 
  • The proposed Transfer of 85% of Global Petroleum Products Kenya  to E3 Energy DMCC has been approved 
  • Barrick Gold and the Government of Tanzania have signed an agreement to launch a new joint venture to oversee the company’s future gold mining operations in the country. 
  • The Competition Authority approved the proposed acquisition of 100% of Acacia Exploration (Kenya) by Shanta Gold Mauritius.
  • Safaricom bought 18.96% of Circle Gas for Kshs 385 million. The gas company has interests in Tanzania also acquired KopaGas’s technology in a $25 million transaction, one of the largest private equity investment in the clean cooking sector
  • In what will be a controversial deal, Kenya plans to have the Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation become a super agency to oversee a new Kenya Transport and Logistics Network (KTLN) that will coordinate the Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Railways and Kenya Pipeline Company.
  •  Deal Undone: The Competition Authority has noted that the acquisition of 80% of the Embraer by Boeing has failed to take place following the decision of the parties to withdraw from the transaction. 

Banking and Finance: Finance, Law, & Insurance M&A

Kenyan Banks  

  • Kenya’s Central Bank approved the acquisition of 51% of Mayfair Bank by Commercial International Bank, Egypt’s leading private sector bank, and it will be renamed as Mayfair CIB Bank.  
  • The Central Bank of Kenya approved the takeover of 90% of Jamii Bora Bank by the Cooperative Bank of Kenya.
  • Access Bank completed the acquisition of 100% of Transnational Bank. 
  • Centum’s Bakki Holdico has acquired all the shares of the late Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat in Sidian Bank (via Business Daily) 
  • Equity Bank has completed its buyout of 66.53% BCDC in DRC. Covid saw the final price reduced by $10 million to $95 million.  
  • Deal undone: Atlas Mara and Equity Bank mutually agreed to discontinue transaction discussions given the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Deal undone? Businessman Naushad Merali and Mwalimu National Sacco plan to sell their stakes in Spire Bank after it issued a notice to engage potential suitors to buy a 100% of the bank. 

Investment Markets and Deal Makers

  • The Nairobi Securities Exchange acquired 61% of AKS Nominees, which holds an 18% share in the Central Depository and Settlement Corporation (CDSC) for Kshs 77 million.
  • Genghis Capital has partnered with EGM Securities to offer investors a wider range of alternative asset classes including online currencies, commodities, precious metals, oil, and biotech stocks.
  • Helios & Fairfax to partner on Africa investments
  • Fanisi Capital and Ascent Capital are set to merge and raise funds for bigger deals in the region.
  • Two Nairobi stockbrokers AIB Capital and Apex Africa entered a joint venture that will lead to a merger. The entity will be part of Mauritius firm, the AXYS Group which acquired Apex in 2015.
  • African Alliance Kenya investment bank is divesting from stockbroking owing to a structural decline in the agency trading model in both the local and global financial markets (amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic)

Insurance

  • The Competition Authority approved the acquisition of 24.1% of ICEA Lion Insurance Holdings by Eastern Africa Holdings which is being used by private equity firm Leapfrog Investments for the buyout of  ICEA Lion Insurance Holdings for Kshs 10 billion.
  • The sale of Stanlib Kenya to ICEA Lion was approved by the Competition Authority though clients have pulled out Kshs 75 billion following the deal. 
  • Mauritian insurance company MUA completed the acquisition of Saham Assurance Company Kenya. 
  • Octagon Africa, who offer pension, actuarial and insurance services in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia acquired a 49% stake in the Zambia subsidiary of Alexander Forbes who doing a group strategic review. 
  • EDIT: Allianz will acquire controlling stakes in Jubilee Insurance’s general insurance business (property & casualty insurance) in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda as well as the short-term insurance business in Burundi and  Mauritius for Kshs 10.8 billion ($ 100 million) while Jubilee will also acquire Allianz Insurance Kenya.  

Regional Banks

  • The Tanzania Postal Bank (TPB) has absorbed a third bank, TIB Corporate, in a new merger deal. 
  • The National Bank of Malawi plans to invest in Akiba Commercial Bank in Tanzania in a bid to expand its operations beyond Malawi.
  • The Bank of Tanzania approved the merger of Mwanga Community Bank and Hakika Microfinance Bank to form the Mwanga Hakika Microfinance Bank. 
  • EFG Hermes and the Sovereign Fund of Egypt aim to acquire 76% of the Arab Investment Bank. EFG Hermes will own 51% of the bank and plans to transition from an investment bank to a commercial bank. 
  • I&M Bank is buying Orient Bank in Uganda.  

Remittances

  • WorldRemit has agreed to acquire Sendwave, an app-based remittance company in a cash and stock transaction. 
  • Beyonic has been acquired by MFS Africa.  

Agri-Business, Food & Beverage M&A

  • Kenya has floated an international expression of interest for the privatization of five sugar firms
  • The Kenya Tea Development Agency Limited (KTDA) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are each investing over Kshs 150 million to set up Africa’s first Japanese speciality green tea production factory at Kangaita Tea Farm in Kirinyaga County. 
  • President Kenyatta has ordered the Kenya Meat Commission to be transferred from the Ministry of Livestock to the Ministry of Defence
  • Dominion Farms on a parcel of land comprising 3,700 hectares at Yala Swamp in Siaya County is being transferred to Lake Agro Ltd.
  • edit Nathan Kalumbu has acquired control of Interstrat Ltd (Big Square Kenya) which has assets worth Ksh 689 million.
  • edit The Competition Authority has approved the acquisition of Dilpack Kenya by Elgon Kenya and the companies will from March 2020 will jointly service the East African market with packaging solutions for the horticultural and floricultural industries.
  • edit The Competition Authority has approved the acquisition of Marsyetu Ltd by Mija Ltd. 

Health and Medical, Pharmaceutical M&A

  • Indo-Oceania Ventures is acquiring Mayfair Healthcare Holdings
  • The CDC Group and Novastar Ventures have invested in mPharma which currently operates in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and serves approximately one million patients annually, through a network of over 400 pharmacies.
  • edit Goodlife Pharmacy, which had a turnover in 2018 of Kshs 936 million, is acquiring assets of Salama Pharmaceuticals which had a turnover of Kshs 13.3 million and Eurose Enterprises which had a turnover of Kshs 9.8 million in the same years.

Logistics, Engineering, & Manufacturing M&A

  • Mum’s Village Kenya has merged with BabyBliss Nigeria to create the Bliss Group Africa. 
  • Portuguese multinational Salvador Caetano Group has invested Kshs 350 million to launch an automotive hub in Kenya and be the dealer for Renaultand Hyundai cars with plans to venture into the local assembly of the two brands.
  • Bolt, the ride-hailing app, has received a EUR 50 million as venture debt facility from the European Investment Bank to support its research and development strategies.
  • Kenyan e-commerce startup AfricaSokoni has acquired Nigeria company Bolorims to expand into the West African country. The deal, which gives Bolorims a 10% cent stake in AfricaSokoni, creates a new entity in Nigeria, Bolosokoni.com, with AfricaSokoni continue to trade as before in Kenya. 
  • edit Evo Pack Ltd is acquiring Kshs 234 million worth of assets of Digital Packaging Innovation Holdings.
  • edit The Competition Authority has approved the acquisition of certain assets of Bamburi Special Products, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bamburi Cement, by Yellow House Ltd.
  • edit The Competition Authority has approved the acquisition of 25% of Macquarie Airfinance Limited by Sunsuper Pty.
  • edit The Competition Authority has approved the acquisition of Ignazio Messina and C.S.P.A and Roro Italia S.R.L by Marinvest S.R.L on condition that Ignazio Messina East Africa business continues to operated and managed independently of Marinvest.
  • edit Shareholders of NSE-listed Nairobi Business Ventures approved the sale of 84% of the firm to Delta International FZE of Dubai, for Kshs 83 million, pending regularity approval.

Real Estate, Tourism, & Supermarkets M&A

  • LSE-listed Network International Holdings is to acquire Nairobi-headquartered DPO Group for $288 million worth of shares of Network. The firm whose payment services are used in 19 African countries, was affected by COVID disruptions of travel and the tourism sector. DPO’s founders will get $13m worth of shares and Apis Growth Fund receives $50m of shares in Network. 
  • PrideInn Group has acquired Azure Hotel and re-opened the Kshs 1.2 billion Westlands hotel that suspended operations in March during the pandemic.  
  • Cloud9xp, an online booking service for leisure experiences and an alumnus of Nairobi Garage, has been acquired by Kenyan-based travel-tech outfit HotelOnline in a share swap deal. 
  • Tusker Mattresses announced plans to recapitalize through the sale of a majority stake that is supported by seven shareholders in its Orakam parent company. But it’s not clear if this will be enough to save the struggling retailers that initially tried to secure short-term supplier support through ring-fencing of payments.  
  • Slumberland Kenya is being transferred to Simba Foam.
  • Deal undone: Tiffany & Co. has filed a lawsuit to compel LVMH Moët Hennessy-Louis Vuitton to complete a merger transaction on earlier-agreed terms, noting that COVID-19 has not prevented other parties from concluding similar deals 
  • edit The Competition Authority has approved the acquisition of control Of Kingdom 5-KR- 185 Ltd by Madison Hotels and Resorts. The Business Daily has this story of the sale of hotels between billionaires by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal to Binod Chaudhary.

Telecommunications, Media & Publishing M&A

  • Edelman, the largest independent global communications firm, has expanded its African footprint with the acquisition of Gina Din Corporate Communications
  • Scangroup completed a long-standing deal after a special EGM in May 2020 saw 88% of its registered shareholders participate and vote 99.98% in its favour.
  • Safaricom and Vodacom have acquired control of M-Pesa in Africa from Vodafone for Kshs 2.15 billion, with each firm paying 50% of the amount (Kshs 1.07.billion) as their share of the joint venture. 
  • Tigo has combined with Zantel. The Tanzanian firms have a combined 12.8 million customers and 7.4 million mobile money users.
  • Mettā and Nairobi Garage are combining their services to create Kenya’s largest innovation community, offering access to all their networks, while members will have access to both organizations’ workspaces throughout Nairobi and the complimentary business support services
  • Nigeria’s CcHub acquired Kenya’s iHub to create a mega Africa incubator.
  • edit French media company Groupe Canal+ SA has acquired a 6.50% stake in Multichoice Africa. This comes after Canal+ acquired African film and television studio ROK in 2019.
  • Deal undone: Telkom Kenya and Airtel have mutually agreed to end their pursuit of a joint venture. This came after conditions were raised that delayed the deal.  
  • edit The Competition Authority has approved the acquisition of 20% of Icolo Limited By Prif Africa Holding.
  • edit Autochek.Africa is buying out Ringier One Africa Media’s Cheki and will operate in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya where Cheki runs new and second-hand car sales, car importation services, car loans and financing.

Other M&A

  • Sport: The legendary Williams F1 racing was taken over by US investment firm Dorilton Capital. Covid and a sponsor departure were triggers for the deal. 
  • Foreign Aid: The United Kingdom, which is leaving the European Union, plans to merge the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – to become the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
  • Art: The art prize collection of the bankrupt Abraaj Group was acquired by a Saudi art organization Art Jameel and will be hosted at their space in Dubai. 

M-Pesa App eases cash management and reporting for SMEs

In June 2020, Safaricom launched a new app for business owners that is a serious tool that enables them to do true real-time cash management, accounting and business banking on their mobile phones.  

Perfectly timed during the Coronavirus when businesses are moving shopping online, and paying more with M-Pesa over cash, the new Lipa Na M-PESA Business App allows business people to set up and manage multiple tills at different locations, keep track of cash and integrate payments from different tills.

By using the app, business owners get immediate updates on sales and receipts, giving them visibility of how different stores are performing and should reduce pilferage and leakage from cash sales handled by employees at different locations.

Payments collected through mobile money can be used to settle supplier bills, pay daily casual salaries or be sent to the bank, all using the app. A big plus is that businesses can obtain instants overdrafts to complete crucial payments, and this follows in the runaway success of “Fuliza”.

Crucially the Lipa Na M-PESA Business App creates a digital data trail, marries accounting and banking as they can now export their periodic statements to other systems like Excel or an accounting system for easier and faster reconciliation. This is expected to ease the record-keeping and payment efficiency of business owners, 170,000 of who currently use Lipa Na Mpesa and who can receive payment from 24 million M-PESA users across the country. 

Business owners can apply online for the new M-PESA business till numbers or to add to their existing ones. The requirements asked for from different entities, from sole proprietors to partnerships, companies and churches, are listed on the site. Decisions on applications will be made within 24 hours of providing all documentation, with new till numbers provided to successful applicants. Other status decisions such as pending, or rejected, with reasons given, will also be in the same period.

The Lipa Na M-PESA Business App is now available in the Google Android store and on USSD (*234#), while the iOS version will be out later.

Digital Newspapers boost during Covid

At the end of May 2020 digital copies of leading newspapers were availed to Kenyans through a partnership with Safaricom.

The newspapers are the Standard and the Nairobian from the Standard Group and the Daily Nation and the Business Daily from the Nation Media Group. The digital copies all cost Kshs 20 each, which is about 1/3 of the street prices of Kshs 50 and Kshs 60 for the print newspaper copies.

This comes at a time of declining readership, and declining advertising for newspapers and in recent months both the media groups have issued profit warnings – the Standard for 2019 and the Nation for 2020. During the Coronavirus outbreak, there have been readers who have stopped buying and reading print newspapers for fear of contracting the virus, despite newspapers running advertisements about the safety and hygiene of their printing and distribution processes. Safaricom is powering this initiative as a Covid-19 response and the digital newspapers are available for a period of two months.

The digital newspapers are very easy to buy with the payment deducted from a user’s airtime, not from M-Pesa. Sign-up requires no cumbersome registration and there is no app to download. One also has to be on Safaricom data to download it, not Wi-Fi, though the download does not consume data, and the purchased copies are available to read for 7 days.

Whether this will accelerate a more permanent shift in readership will be seen after the period ends in the second half of the year. Local media houses have tried for many years to get readers to pay for online subscriptions without much success.

Early in the Covid-19 period, full PDF copies of newspapers would circulate on WhatsApp, but these seem to have stopped since a crackdown was initiated. This is also a period of increasing political activity and a key tool of propaganda is the use of doctored government documents and fake newspaper covers to mislead online readers – so having actual digital copies is a welcome tool to verify which are with the fake covers.

There is also another Nairobi newspaper that is completely free – both online and in print. The People Daily that is handed out to motorists and also distributed to a smaller clientele around the country. The packaging of the newspaper during Corona is indicative that costs may not be an issue at this paper.

*Get the digital newspapers from Safaricom.com  under “discover” then “newspapers” or by dialing *550#.

EDIT: On June 22, Radio Africa and Mediamax joined the partnership, availing their The Star and People Daily newspapers for Kshs 10 per issue.

EDIT: On July 1, the Nation Media Group announced a “change its business model from print advertising and physical reader copy to digital advertising, ePaper subscription and content-driven reader revenue.” This was accompanied by a reduction of workforce effective July 3, 2020 and salary reductions, of, in some cases, 40%.

Safaricom 2020 results with CEO transition

Safaricom PLC announced its financial results at a unique event, streamed online, that featured its incoming and outgoing CEO’s.

Overall revenue grew 5% to Kshs 251 billion as M-Pesa revenue grew 12% to Kshs 84 billion with mobile data growing 12% to Kshs 40 billion. Voice and SMS revenue declined. Profit before tax increased to Kshs 105.77 billion up 17% from the previous year, and the company will pay out Kshs 56 billion as dividends to shareholders, up from 50 billion in 2019.

The firm’s Chairman Nicholas Ng’angá welcomed the new CEO Peter Ndegwa who has been in office for a few weeks now and thanked Michael Joseph who had been appointed interim CEO following the demise of Bob Collymore in July 2019.

Ng’angá asked that the country’s regulatory period, after Coronavirus, be designed to support the revival of businesses, not one that increases taxes for consumers and businesses, noting that the company had paid Kshs 111 billion in taxes and fees to the government during 2019.

Michael Joseph said that in his second stint as CEO they had simplified offers to customers and mobile data had double-digit growth while gaining market and increasing data revenue. Safaricom and Vodacom have acquired the M-Pesa brand from Vodafone and will roll out M-Pesa across Africa with new products and lower costs. Safaricom is also pursuing one of the new licenses in Ethiopia.

Sateesh Kamath, the Chief Financial Officer, said the results were adjusted for the one off-gain of acquiring M-Pesa and that service revenue still grew in the year, despite the decline of the sports betting and the reduction of tariffs the company had undertaken to support consumers during Coronavirus. He said that they plan to introduce more use cases to cannibalise M-Pesa “withdrawal” revenue and instead grow customer e-balances in the long run, while Joseph said that they plan to roll out a unit-trust investment product.

Peter Ndegwa, the incoming CEO, announced that the company would roll out a device financing offer to enable Kenyans to access 4G smartphones, with affordable data, by paying as little as Kshs 20 per day. He concluded by saying that Coronavirus made it impossible for the company to provide forward guidance on earnings and capital expenditure for 2021 and that they would do that at a later date.