Turning Dreams into Hotels – Angama and Hemingways

From recent social media posts, we have two tales about how two award-winning hotels came to be built.

Angama: The story of Angama was published back in 2017 but was re-shared this week in a newsletter from the lodge. It was contained in a blog that was written by the founder on the putting together of finding the right partners and putting together a project team and how they managed to execute on a design and vision to build a 10,000 square meter lodge on a cliff in the Mara, in just ten months. This came after eight months of chasing funding.

Hemingways:  The story of Hemingways, is from an interview of the Chairman of Hemingways Holdings, Dicky Evans by journalist Joy Doreen Biira.

He narrates how they operated a hotel in Watamu on the Kenyan coast for 30 years before deciding that there was an opportunity to do a hotel property in the capital city of Kenya. Then, on to the search for an ideal location, acquiring the land, growth by acquiring other companies, working with planners and neighbours, sourcing environmental permits, utilities etc. all to build and fit out what became Hemingways Nairobi at a total cost $22 million. To do this, they also got some funding from I&M Bank, and also invested in other properties in the Mara and in Naivasha and are doing renovations and expansion into new apartments at Watamu.

The importance of partnerships comes in both stories; Hemingways at Watamu partners with other hotels in Nairobi, which don’t have properties as the Coast, to host tourists who want a  private luxury experience at the beach, while Angama, in another post, narrates how local airlines came together to reduce the flying time for their tourists moving between the Mara in Kenya and Serengeti in Tanzania to just a few hours – eliminating an extremely  long process of several flights through Nairobi, Kilimanjaro, and Arusha and airports.

In the two posts, there are unique insights you rarely hear local investors talk about such as how much money they put have invested into their projects, the process of acquiring land, and how infrastructure developments lead to new investment opportunities and possibilities. Also, the day-to-day running and management, and the use of expatriate project managers is a theme that runs through the stories of the two properties that were built quite fast and which are now receiving global accolades for excellence.

Some of the recent awards the hotels have been feted for include the “Best Resort in the Middle East and Africa” by Conde Nast Traveller for Angama, while Hemingways was named the “Best Hotel in Kenya” in three categories (top 10 hotel, top luxury, top service) by Trip Advisor.

Genghis Stock Picks for 2019

Nairobi-based investment bank Genghis Capital launched their 2019 “investor playbook” with the theme of embracing value. 2018 was a challenging year for the Kenyan economy and capital markets and that is expected to continue in 2019, but this also presents opportunities for investors.

Kenya has a relatively small number of stocks (65) on the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) – and Genghis chose nine stocks as their 2019 financial (banking & insurance) and non-financial picks for investors, in three categories:

  • Momentum stocks: Equity Bank, East African Breweries, KCB Group, Safaricom.
  • Income stocks: Stanbic, Barclays Kenya, Standard Chartered, KCB. 
  • Value stocks: Kenya Reinsurance, KCB, Bamburi Cement. 

They cited that Safaricom scored positively in every category while KCB and Equity banks had embraced digitization, high asset quality and low cost structures.

Other points from the playbook launch presentation:

  • They do not expect a repeal of interest rate caps this year, even though its impact has been negative on the economy.
  • Funds raised for infrastructure bonds are not all being used for that; some are going to retire other debts and they should be properly used
  • Public-private partnerships are not coming to fruition; paperwork for the Nairobi-Nakuru highway was submitted in April 2018 but there has been no decision.
  • To a question – “what is the regulator doing to increase the confidence of investors amid fraud incidents?” – the CMA can only do so much and the onus is still on the company directors. International markets have graver penalties than Kenya and perhaps it is time the Director of Public Prosecutions started looking at some cases here and following through on enforcement. 
  • While Kenya Re is a pick in the playbook, they generally don’t cover the insurance sector – it has challenges including fraud, price under-cutting, and low penetration levels (3%) and a lot has to happen to unlock value and growth in the insurance mass market. Kenya Re is there because it is under-valued (owing to lack of clear strategy and proper management) but would be desirable to other insurance investors if the government decided to sell its shareholding.
  • They expect one main listing and others on the smaller NSE boards this year. But while a number of planned privatizations have been mentioned  – Consolidated and Development banks, Kenya Pipeline, Kenya Ports they face numerous hurdles while others like sugar companies in Western Kenya have been on the pipeline since 2011. 

Bank Roundup: January 2019

The boards of NIC and CBA banks confirmed their plans to go ahead with a merger to create the largest bank in Africa by customer numbers. Serving over 40 million customers in 5 countries, the combined entity will have Kshs 444 billion in assets (~ $4.4 billion).

Currently, they are both at 115 billion of loans and have differences in deposits with 145 billion at NIC to 191 billion at CBA and customer numbers of 142,000 at NIC to 41 million at CBA. They had relatively similar customer numbers prior to CBA’s launch of M-Shwari in partnership with Safaricom. 

Going forward they aim to obtain shareholder approval in Q1, obtain regulatory approval in Q2 and have the new entity commence operations in Q3 of 2019. Currently, NIC has 26,000 shareholders and is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) while CBA has 34 shareholders (20 individual, 14 corporations) including Enke Investments (24.91%), Ropat Nominees (22.50%), Livingstone Registrars (19.90%) and  Yana Investments (11.14%). The merger will be effected through share swaps that will result in NIC shareholders owning 47% and CBA shareholders 53% of the new entity whose shares will remain listed on the NSE.

MCB in Kenya:  Leading Mauritius Lender MCB Group has officially opened its representative office in Nairobi. The largest and oldest bank in Mauritius, with $12 billion in assets and a presence in nine countries, it had been licensed in Kenya back in 2015 and it will bank on its new office to gauge opportunities in the Kenyan market and build strategic relationships.

The 19th largest bank in Africa by assets, it is listed in Mauritius and has 19,000 shareholders. It has a strategic objective of growing its international footprint and expanding non bank activities. It has 1 million customers, 3,500 employees and 55 branches but, as it was communicated at the launch, they have no intention of opening branches in Kenya or East Africa.

Ethiopia Bank summary: Asoko Insight gave a summary report of the Ethiopian banking sector, parts of which are only available to subscribers. While some foreign investment is expected in Ethiopia, the banking sector is already privatized with fifteen of the country’s eighteen banks all having private local owners. The state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia is the largest bank in the East Africa region with 1,280 branches and earns 67% of the sector profits in the country.  It has revenue of $1.3 billion, while 11 (other) banks, have revenues of between $50 million and $500 million, suggesting a more concentrated market in terms of size.

Tanzania:  NMB bank has waived several bank charges for their customers from February 1 including account opening, monthly maintenance, transaction fees, dormant account reactivation, and internal transfers – all in a bid to promote finance inclusion in the country.

Meanwhile, several Tanzania banks have a series of new managing directors including NIC Bank, Akiba Commercial Bank and Bank of Africa Tanzania

Family Bank pled guilty in the NYS case:

Diamond Trust CEO questioned.

WEF Davos 2019

The annual meetings of the World Economic Forum (WEF) take place in Davos Switzerland this week. The 2019 event will feature over 3,500 attendees from 115 “economies” (according to WEF) of who 118 are from Africa. Among this number, 57 are from South Africa, 16 from Nigeria, 13 from Kenya, 9 from Egypt, 6 each from Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, 5 Rwanda, 4 Cote d’Ivoire and 3 from Morocco.

This year Qz has drilled down the attendees by continent, and listed under Kenya are Jesse Moore (M-Kopa), Katie Hill (Liquid Telecom), Mohammed Hassan (Kakuma Refugee Camp), Patrick Njoroge (Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya), Dr. Githinji Gitahi (CEO, AMREF) Agnes Kalibata (AGRA President), Paul Okumu (AfricaPlatform), Peter Munya (the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives), Liz Muange and Kanini Mutooni (both of USAID), Kennedy Odede (CEO Shining Hope), Mohamed Al-Beity (Savannah Fund) and Winnie Byanyima (Executive Director Oxfam).

 

Other familiar attendees from the continent include Tony Elumelu (Chairman of UBA Group), Ahmed Heikal (Qalaa), Cyril Ramaphosa (President, South Africa), Abiy Ahmed (Prime Minister, Ethiopia) Yoweri Museveni (President, Uganda), Moussa Mahamat (Chairperson African Union Commission), Akinwumi Adesina (President, African Development Bank), and Paul Kagame (President, Rwanda), Elizabeth Rossiello (CEO BitPesa – now in Senegal), and Emmerson Mnangagwa (President, Zimbabwe) who may have withdrawn to deal with the latest chapter in the country’s economic crisis.

Others are Mthuli Ncube (Finance Minister, Zimbabwe), from Botswana President Eric Masisi and Investment Minister Bogolo Kenewendo, Kamissa Camara (Foreign Affairs Minister Mali) and from the DRC is Denis Mukwege, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018.  Qz notes that the youngest attendee at Davos this year is the 16-year-old photographer Skye Meaker from South Africa. 

Also on the list is William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital, a now frequent attendee at Davos. In his fascinating book, “Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice”, he writes of his first visit to Davos – where in 1996, he gatecrashed the town of Davos with an investment banking friend. They did not have an innovation to the $50,000 annual summit, “an A-list party of the business world,” in which all hotel rooms are booked a year in advance. But they did mingle around the town and met a former finance minister of Russia in a group where they had an eerie conversation about investing in Russia.

“Don’t worry about the election, Yeltsin is going to win for sure.”
“How can you say that? His approval rating is barely 6%”
“These guys will fix that”

Nairobi Riverside Terror Attack

Here are some noteworthy moments covered on Twitter.

The calm shatters.

First documentary video of the attack by journalist John Allan Namu.

Some early advice.

Breaking news advice.

This is a Twitter thread, but Facebook has more reach in a crisis.

Volunteer first responders.

Pleas for help.

Mistaken identity.

Victims

Terrorism has no religion, tribe, or colour. Islam does not condone terrorism.

Survivors and Survival Tales

 

Keep hope alive.

Police lines.

Bank customers okay.

Others Tales

The foreign media, and the New York Times become a talking point.

Situation updates by the Police.

Calls for support.

Corporate support for the responders.

Counseling and therapy services.

Support the victims’ families.

Supporting business continuity.

Lessons learnt.

14 Riverside reopens on January 28.

Remain vigilant! – US Embassy cautions.

Bank manager charged with failing to report suspicious funds transactions linked to the attack.

What other notable tweets did you see this week?