Category Archives: Stanbic

Banking History in Colonial Kenya

This morning there was a talk given by Christian Velasco of Warwick University on A Colony of Bankers: New Approaches to Commercial Banking History in Colonial Kenya. He said there have been very few books written about the early banking history of Kenya and East Africa and he had sourced information from the Kenya National Archives in Nairobi, and scattered bank archives in the UK, South Africa, or Australia, but that many records were now lost.

Excerpts 

There were the banks that came before the first World War and a raft of banks that started after the end of the Mau Mau war – and the banks could fall into three categories: Colonial banks (state-supported banks that were the only ones that could handle government accounts, and which disappeared after independence), Imperial banks (less dependent on government business, and who focused more on trade and agriculture) and multinationals (who had most of their business abroad).

The story is of Kenya’s colonial banking era is really about three banks – the National Bank of India (NBI), Standard Bank of South Africa (SBSA) and Barclays. The arrival of Barclays in Kenya changed the banking sector greatly as it sought to end the long relationship that the National Bank of India had with colonial government in Kenya. Also when Barclays arrived, they found that the Standard Bank controlled many of the white accounts, so they set out to include more Africans as customers. Africans had bank accounts from around 1926, and by the 1950’s Barclays had more African accounts than settler accounts. 

Banks were mostly found in urban areas and with the ending of the Mau Mau uprising, there was an expectation that Kenya would remain a British colony for many decades. This resulted in several new banks setting up in Kenya in the 1950’s. Meanwhile, NBI, SBSA, and Barclays all expanded by 100% opening up in new places around the country, even with mobile bank units to attract customers. Despite the arrival of the new banks, the main competition remained between these three established big banks, and in 1954, Barclays sent a memo to the colonial government complaining about the unfair practice of them favouring the NBI who retained a monopoly of new business that dated back 60 years. 

All banks eventually had to break with colonial past and the British empire, and a big loser in the period was SBSA which had concentrated on the white settler population. Kenyan politicians tried to engineer boycotts of businesses related to South Africa due to the Apartheid regime and African customers now shunned it. Officials at the bank wrote to their headquarters about the problem and as a result, the name was changed by dropping “South Africa” from the name, and SBSA became “Standard Bank.”

However Africanization of staff did not start until quote late – Barclays had 1,000 employees, and just 70 were Africans with many more who were Indians. There was a hierarchy in banks of having whites being top managers, middle jobs were done by Indians and Africans, the clerical jobs – and this was because customers did not want to deal with African staff.

Stanbic to Increase Kenya stake to 75%

Stanbic

Stanbic Africa Holdings (Stanbic) – SAHL has tendered an offer to other shareholders of its Kenyan subsidiary who may be willing to sell their shares to the SAHL group at a premium as it seeks to increases its stake in Kenya’s 8th largest bank.

SAHL, which owns 237 million shares representing 60% of Stanbic Kenya, is seeking to buy another 59 million shares, which will take its stake to 75% (296 million shares) as part of a commitment to grow business in Africa. Stanbic Kenya is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange and SAHL has declared that the shares will remain listed after the deal and have applied for an exemption from being required to make a formal takeover.

The bank shares were trading at Kshs 83 before the announcement, and SAHL is offering to buy no more than 59 million additional shares at Kshs 95 (~$0.94) a share. SAHL states that it will give preference to shareholders on the register date for up to a maximum of 10,000 shares in the offer, which runs to April 27.

In 2016, Stanbic Kenya had 4,424 shareholders, 3,837 of whom owned less than 10,000 shares, and 1,838 of these had less than 500 shares. While SAHL states that it is not acting in concert with any other parties, it is entirely possible that the three largest shareholders behind SAHL in the Kenyan bank – two foreign firms and one local company who may own a combined 59 million shares may be targets of the offer.  One of the shareholders has also recently divested from owning large stakes in other NSE-listed companies including Athi River Mining and Kenol-Kobil.

SAHL established its banking presence in Kenya in 2007 by initially merging with the CFC Bank Group. Shareholders who take up the new offer to sell their shares will also forego a dividend of Kshs 4.00 per share declared this month when Stanbic reported bank profits of Kshs 5.6 billion along with assets of Kshs 239 billion, loans of 130 billion and deposits of Kshs 153 billion.

2018 Kenya macro prospects are largely positive

Kenya’s economy is projected to grow by 5.6% from 4.7% last year, Stanbic Bank economists projected on Thursday. The Kenya macro economy was supported by improved performance in the agricultural and tourism sectors rippling down to the manufacturing and services sectors.

Pic from KenyanWallStreet

Jibran Qureishi, Stanbic’s Regional East African economist explained the Stanbic Bank Kenya Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) served as a leading indicator as it vindicated itself over the quarterly GDP growth rate. He underlined the importance of the government’s focus on credit growth to the private sector, improved agricultural policies, the balance of payments and exchange rate.

Recent ranking in the ease of doing business report, end of the political impasse, improved efficiencies in ports and expected increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) would hopefully promote the economy over the 6% year on year growth target which Kenya has only achieved five times since 1980.

However, Kenya’s debt service costs which are mainly external and fiscal consolidation needs to be thought about more carefully for a better and consistent economic performance and Mr. Qureishi warned that the biggest downside risk to the growth outlook would be slower private sector credit growth and fiscal consolidation. He stated that the introduction of IFRS 9 (replacing the IASB 39)  will make the credit growth drought recovery sluggish although the demand side for credit is improving and that the government also needs to develop a sound industrial policy which would have productivity gains rather than increasing expenditure on new infrastructure projects.

In summary:

  • Inflation likely to fall in H1.18 and thereafter edge higher as 2017 short rains have been good.
  • Expected rebound in the agriculture sector.
  • KES to be steady in H1.18.
  • GDP growth likely to recover in the near to medium term.

Here’s a recap of other recently-released economic forecast reports on Kenya.

Deloitte on African Art and Finance

The value of African art can grow tremendously over the next decade with investment and support from buyers both within Africa, and others who live beyond the continent, as well as from African art schools, governments, museums, galleries, art professionals and banks to stimulate and support more interest in African art.

These are some of the findings from the Art & Finance Report 2017 that was unveiled at Deloitte’s 10th Art and Finance conference at the Italian Stock Exchange in Milan this week and which estimated that the value of art owned by Africans collectors was $12.7 billion in 2016 and that it  could grow to $20 billion by 2026. This still accounts for less than 1% of the global art market currently estimated at $1.6 trillion with an annual turnover of $50 billion.

Some key findings of the report which looked at the global art markets include:

  • The art market should be self-regulated and there is great support for art to be part of wealth management offerings to customers at more private banks.
  • Banks need more specialists to properly value and manage art markets.
  • Art can be used as collateral, enabling art collectors and galleries to realize liquidity without having to make unfavorable sales to meet short-term cash-flow needs. See this on how to borrow against art.
  • Art as an investment class poses risks that are no different from others that banks manage and have to guard against, including vices like price manipulation, insider trading, money laundering and terror financing.
  • The top categories in the global art market are  “post-war & contemporary art”, followed by “modern & impressionist art”, “Chinese & Asian art” and ” jewels & watches”.

Some excerpts from the report on the African art market include:

  • International dealers and auction houses like Bonhams and Sotheby’s are seeing a gradual shift in the African contemporary art buyer base from mainly African art collectors to a more international and diverse group of art collectors.
  • London experienced a 12.5%  rise in African art auction sales between 2015 and 2016, with Bonhams controlling a 65% market share.
  • Sotheby’s London joined the African art auction trend in 2017 with its first auction focused purely on African contemporary art. It achieved total sales of over $3.6 million and 79 of the 116 lots were sold.
  • In 2017, record-breaking hammer prices recorded at auction for contemporary art were achieved by Nigerian artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby, whose work sold for less than $100,000 at auction in 2016. However, less than a year later, the artist’s piece “Drown” sold for a record-breaking US$1.1 million at a Sotheby’s auction and a few months after that, her 2012 painting “The Beautiful Ones” sold for US$3.1 million at a Christie’s London auction.

There is currently an inter-section of art, wealth, and technology with the possibility that bitcoin / block-chain can be used to assist banks and financiers with tools to help with transparency authentication, copyrights and ownership of art objects and there are already platforms such as Blockai, Ascribe.io, Chainmark, and smArtchain etc. in use.

The greatest demand for African art is currently from high net worth individuals in Nigeria and South Africa, which are the two largest economies in Africa. The report also notes that there is increasing demand from corporations such as the Nigeria Stock Exchange

Elsewhere In Kenya, Stanbic was working on investor management portfolio offerings that include wine and African art, while Nigeria has Access Bank in Nigeria. There are also other innovations coming up in African art and finance from leading banks and galleries in Kenya, South Africa and Europe.

Tegeta Escrow

Yesterday Harbinder Singh Sethi and James Buchard Rugemarila were charged with obtaining $22 million and 309 billion Tanzania shillings from the Bank of Tanzania in what’s been dubbed the Tegeta Escrow case.

Perhaps the best summary of the Tegeta Escrow case comes from Africa Confidential (Vol 55 – N° 19) dated 26 September 2014 –

  • Heads may be about to roll after revelations about the contested transfer of 200 billion Tanzania shillings (US$124 million) from an escrow account in the central bank, the Bank of Tanzania, to Harbinder Singh Sethi’s Pan Africa Power Solutions Tanzania Limited (PAP, AC Vol 55 No 13). The complex details of how Sethi acquired Independent Power Tanzania Ltd. (IPTL) and then raided the BoT account have now been pieced together by two opposition members of parliament, Zitto Kabwe and David Zacharia Kafulila, with the help of The Citizen and Mwananchi newspapers.
  • If Sethi’s critics are proved right, this is the country’s biggest corruption scandal to date. Based in South Africa, Sethi is a Tanzanian-born businessman with a reputation for dubious past dealings in Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and the United States. Sethi claims to have bought 70% of IPTL’s shares from Malaysia’s Mechmar Corporation, now in receivership. Yet Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong (SCB-HK) claims to have purchased IPTL’s debt for $76 mn. in August 2005 and says Mechmar was already in liquidation when Sethi claimed to have acquired the shares.
  • The Tanzanian behind IPTL, former BoT employee and self-styled international consultant James Rugemalira, is also under investigation over the $75 mn. that he was paid by Sethi for his company’s 30% share in IPTL.
  • Both Sethi and Rugemalira have lived up to Kabwe’s description as ‘aggressive litigators’. Their strategy has been to steer the acquisition of IPTL away from non-Tanzanian jurisdictions (Malaysia and Britain), from other interested parties (SCB-HK) and lawyers, receivers and liquidators in Malaysia and Hong-Kong. In this way, SCB-HK’s property rights in IPTL have been summarily dismissed and attempts by SCB-HK’s lawyers to negotiate a compromise with Tanesco have all been blocked. Furthermore, the findings of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes over IPTL’s overcharging Tanesco for power supplied and the proposal for a solution involving SCB-HK claims have been ignored. Tanzanian courts have been complicit in rubber-stamping IPTL’s transfer to Sethi’s PAP. None of this helps improve the country’s image abroad.

Other

  • The unfolding details about the Tegeta Escrow case resulted in the removal of four ministers back in 2014. On Saturday, the energy minister, Sospeter Muhongo, resigned over his alleged role in the affair last year that saw $180m (£116m) taken from the country’s central bank. The move follows the removal from office of the attorney general, Frederick Werema, the energy secretary, Eliakim Maswi, and the housing minister, Anna Tibaijuka, who was sacked over the transfer of $1m to her private bank account Chairs of three parliamentary committees have also resigned following the scandal: Victor Mwambalaswa, energy and minerals committee; Andrew Chenge, parliamentary budget committee; and William Ngeleja, legal affairs and governance committee.
  • Back in December 2014, Stanbic Bank Tanzania released a short statement on the-then parliamentary report on Tegeta Escrow and their role.