Spire Bank Capital Injection

Spire Bank shareholders will hold an extraordinary general meeting at the end of November 207 to approve an increase in bank capital that has been eroded by recent losses at the bank.

At the November 27 EGM, shareholders will approve the creation of 100 million new shares, worth Kshs 500 million that will be allocated to Equatorial Commercial Holdings. Kenyan banks are to have a minimum core bank capital of Kshs 1 billion, and as at June 2017, Spire’s capital was down to Kshs 1.6 billion and the bank had a half-year loss of Kshs 307 million coming on the back of a 2016 loss of Kshs 967 million. Spire had Kshs 13 billion assets, Kshs 6.4 billion loans, and Kshs 7.6 billion deposits as at June 2017. But interest income and total income at the half-year was sharply down from that in June 2016 which could point to their performance trend for the end of 2017.

In 2015, Mwalimu SACCO one of the country’s largest credit societies bought out and rebranded the former Equatorial Commercial Bank as Spire. Equatorial had itself been formed from a merger between Southern Credit and Equatorial banks in 2010. 

Mwalimu SACCO has Kshs 37 billion in assets and Kshs 3 billion profit in 2016 and has over 70,000 members as owners.  This is the second bank capital injection by Mwalimu at Equatorial after another with the buyout. The shares will be allocated among Equatorial Commercial Holdings which owns 98% of Spire bank has shareholders including Mwalimu National Holdings (75%), Yana Towers (10%), A.H. Butt (8%), Yana Investments (6.75%, and who also own 11% of CBA) and N.N. Merali (0%).

Safaricom CEO Leave and Impact

Safaricom is not expected to undergo major changes or see much impact following the shock statement released this week about CEO Bob Collymore leaving the company for a few months to undergo medical treatment.

“During this time, Sateesh Kamath, the current Chief Financial Officer for Safaricom who is also Mr. Collymore’s alternate on the Board, will take a primary role.  He will be supported by Joseph Ogutu who is the current Director – Strategy and Innovation, Safaricom. Mr. Ogutu will be responsible for Safaricom’s day-to-day operations until Mr. Collymore’s return from medical leave.

Following the news about the CEO’s leave, the Safaricom CFO had a session with investors, and according to a Citi report afterwards on the implications of the events:

We have no concerns over operations of the company in the CEO’s absence. Based on examples in other geographies, it would take a couple of years to derail a well-run company.The company may become exposed on the regulatory side. We think the regulation is likely to remain balanced with consideration of the contribution the company makes to the state (in taxes and dividends)

The discussion about succession and its impact at Safaricom comes exactly seven years after Collymore took over from Michael Joseph as CEO. He then made his formal debut announcing the half-year results back then, and that event will recur again tomorrow (Friday) when Safaricom releases its 2018 half-year results. Also at the results announcement, updates will be given on the e-commerce plans and international expansion of the M-pesa platform.

CFO Kamath with CEO Collymore and Chairman Nganga at the Safariom 2017 results announcement in May.

At the announcement of another year of record 2017 financial results announcement in May this year, company chairman, Nicholas Nganga announced that the expiring contract of Collymore had been extended for another two years. No interim CEO will be appointed at Safaricom, Collymore came to Safaricom from Vodafone, but an appointment of a CEO is one of the governance clauses that changed with the Vodacom buyout of Vodafone’s interest in Safaricom in the middle of the year.

The Safaricom Sustainability Report for 2017 which Collymore launched a month ago, noted that the company’s shareholding had experienced a decline in local and retail shareholders due to their profit-taking from the company’s high share price and a corresponding increase in investment stakes of foreign corporate investors due to Safaricom’s performance and strong fundamentals.

Another Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner First

Last week, Ethiopian Airlines welcomed a new Dreamliner model, the Boeing 787-900 at their base in Addis Ababa. Group CEO Ethiopian Airlines, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, said “Our investment in latest technology aircraft such as the 787 and (Airbus) A350, which makes us among the very few airlines in the world to simultaneously operate these two most cutting edge airplanes, is part and parcel of our Vision 2025”

The strategic plan consolidates seven business units including maintenance & repairs, cargo, training, hotels and ground services at the airline which has registered 25% annual growth over the last seven years.

Ethiopian currently has 92 aircraft with 60 on order, and operate from three hubs in Africa (Addis, Lome, Lilongwe) flying to 100 destinations on 5 continents. The fleet includes 20 Boeing 787-800 which have 271 seats, and the new  Boeing 787-9, which is 20 feet longer than the 787-8, will carry 315 passengers and has more cargo space.

Ethiopian was the first airline outside Japan to operate the Boeing 787 in 2012 and also the first African airline to operate the Airbus A350 in 2016. There has been discussion about the diverse fleet at the airline with some expectation that ultimately their long-haul fleet of the future will comprise Boeing 787’s and Airbus A350’s.

Nakumatt Voluntary Administration

Troubled supermarket chain Nakumatt applied for voluntary administration to enable the chain to continue operations while freezing a mounting series of claims from banks, mall landlords, suppliers and other creditors as they seek options on how best to survive.

Nakumatt in administration

The move effectively ends the management of Atul Shah and surrenders  decision-making at Nakumatt to Peter Kahi of PKF Consulting. One of the first orders of business of the company in administration will be for Kahi to draw and publish a statement of Nakumatt’s assets and debts while separating bank ones, preferential creditors, unsecured creditors, and connected creditors. Up to now, the true and total debt has been a matter of speculation that could be up to Kshs 30-40 billion.

The Nakumatt statement reads that “the senior lenders are aware of Nakumatt’s financial position and are supportive of Nakumatt’s application for an administration order.  Further, Tusker Mattresses Limited has, subject to the Competition Authority of Kenya’s approval, undertaken to forge ahead with its investment in Nakumatt in connection with its proposed merger with Nakumatt.”

Past funding proposals prior to the Tuskys deal under consideration have not materialized. The insolvency law, which Nakumatt cites in its application for administration is among a series of new corporate laws passed in 2015 and is now focused on bringing troubled companies back to life. Aspects of the laws have been used at distressed companies including Uchumi and Kenya Airways.  Going into administration lowers the voting powers of banks, who are secured, and it gives Nakumatt power to deal with the unsecured debts.  The banks themselves were legally prevented from appointing an administrator as there have already been cases filed by some creditors asking for the liquidation of Nakumatt.

Agency Banking in Kenya in 2017

Agency banking which has been around for seven years, is going to see a transformation of branch banking as banks roll out more products to alternative delivery channels.

Agency banking outlets extend banking services in Kenya.

According to Central Bank of Kenya statistics on the distribution of agents, 87% are with 3 banks – Equity Bank with 25,428 agents, Kenya Commercial Bank  with 12,883 and Cooperative Bank with 8,856 agents. Bank customers in Kenya transacted Kshs 734 billion in 2016, up from 442 billion in 2015).
Agents are big and deliver dozens of services that including SACCO transactions, payment of school fees, NHIF, KRA and utility bills – which bank customers can now do from their neighborhoods and which are accessible for longer hours than bank branches. While cash deposits and cash withdrawal are the bulk of the transactions, agents also processed Kshs 14 billion for payments of retirement and social benefits, and another Kshs 6 billion to utilities
Crucially, agents are the link between cash and the mobile banking/online banking worlds.

Last year Co-op reported that their branches did 15% of bank transactions with the rest being done on alternative channels, and yesterday Equity Bank disclosed that, this year, non-branch transactions are  91% of all monetary transactions – which are now happening on self-service and third-party platforms at variable costs – compared to the fixed costs of branches.

Equity is rolling out agency banking in Uganda, and the Central Bank of Kenya has had knowledge exchange partnerships with teams from Tanzania and Malayisa who were studying agency banking in Kenya. Equity CEO James Mwangi also said that Equity Bank agents share between Kshs 3-5 million in commissions every day as he pondered that the bank did not need new staff and could give probably back 70% of the physical space they currently have.  Their next step will be to digitize corporate banking to enable services to be done on alternative channels, the way retail banking has been done.