Category Archives: Access Kenya

5 Kenyan banking stories of 2022 and 2023

2022 in Review 

1. Credit reference shake-up: A failure of banks to carry out proper credit education and to convey the benefits of good repayment to customers, through lower interest rates, caught up with them. This was combined with a tendency to blacklist defaulters at the earliest instance to punish them – and became an issue at political campaigns ahead of the August 2022 election.

The new government set in motion a plan to clear over 4 million borrowers from credit reference bureau blacklists This was in part a 50% waiver on their debt and a window of six months for borrowers to pay the balance of the amount. At the Absa Q3 results briefing, management of the bank explained that there would be no immediate impact as these were loans of people who got stuck in 2020 (during the Covid-19 disruption) that had already been fully provided for

2. CEO suite changes: At Absa Bank Kenya, MD Jeremy Awori left after nine years. He later joined Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, the parent of the Ecobank Group, as the Group CEO replacing Ade Ayeyemi, who retired after attaining the age of 60. Absa Kenya then picked its Chief Financial Officer Yusuf Omari to take over as interim CEO  as  Moses Muthui was made the interim CFO. 

At KCB Joshua Oigara left after nine years and later in the year joined the Standard Bank group as the CEO of Stanbic Kenya and South Sudan, after Charles Mudiwa retired after two decades. KCB appointed Paul Russo, who was MD of their National Bank subsidiary as the new KCB Group Chief Executive Officer. Following that, KCB now has Anastacia Kimtai as the acting KCB Kenya MD and Peter Kioko as the acting MD of National Bank of Kenya

At the I&M Group, the CEO of I&M Bank Kenya Kihara Maina moved on to be the group’s regional CEO, taking over from Chris Low, and the new Kenya MD is Gul Khan who joined from Airtel Money Africa. 

Cooperative and Diamond Trust and Equity banks still retain their long-serving leadership though, at Equity, Polycarp Igathe stepped down as Chief Commercial Officer to contest for the Nairobi Governor seat in the August 2022 elections. edit And from Mwango Capital, we learn of more leadership changes at banks with Sam Muturi joining as Consolidated Bank’s new CEO and Anuj Mediratta as CEO of Gulf African Bank with Helen Chepkwony as the acting CEO of the Kenya Deposit Insurance Corporation (KDIC). Also, Shelter Afrique had another executive change with Thierno-Habib Hann stepping in as the new MD/CEO, replacing Kingsley Muwowo, the CFO, who had been the interim boss. Another change saw Rose Kagucia become the Acting CEO/Managing Director at Dubai Islamic Bank, replacing Peter Makau.

3. Capital raising and arranged marriages: Banks set out to raise new capital in different ways. Larger banks with foreign links like Absa can attract Tier II funding at low rates (of about 3%) which is lower than the cost of deposits or the bond markets (about 9%). Smaller banks arranged sales like Spire to Equity and Sidian to Access while deposit-taking microfinance banks found fintech partners. Key Microfinance is now LOLC Kenya, UMBA, a Delaware fintech bought 66% of Daraja Microfinance Bank, Century Microfinance became Branch Microfinance Bank and Uwezo Microfinance is now Salaam Microfinance Bank. 

4. Green finance is in: Banks report on it and the Kenya Bankers Association published sustainable finance guidelines and principles for banks to align their processes and products (including loans) and the Central Bank has guidelines on climate risk management. Banks are now attracting “green finance” and touting their green credentials joining new green alliances and measuring their activities such as tree planting and reducing their carbon footprints. 

5. Resurgence of the bank branch” Co-Op, Diamond Trust, Family, and NCBA bucked the branch closure trend to show that digital growth needs a physical presence to support it. 

Outlook for 2023

1. Go Big in Ethiopia: Following Safaricom’s big entry into Ethiopia, will banks now follow into the next big African market African after DRC that has delivered big for Equity? Kenyan bank support new partners of the telco that can lead to other businesses in the country that need to unlock financing – and take on the local giant Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (27th largest in Africa), which is not growing its assets now with currency restrictions and a prolonged war. The entry path for foreign banks is now set and KCB, Equity and Stanbic are among the dozen foreign bank that have had representative offices in the country for a few years.

2. Will digital bank customers stick around? January 1 sees a return of several bank charges that were waived in March 2020 at the start of the Covid-19 wave to enable bank customers to make digital and contactless payments. Many tried out digital services offered by their banks for the first time as they were now free of charge. Non-funded income is key for bank profits, but it will be seen how the return of bank and mobile payments/transfer charges will be received by customers are different banks. In this economy, customers are more cost-conscious than ever, especially with the government tax on every bank transaction going up to 20% in 2023.  

3. New savings and investment products that target diaspora, retail and unbanked customers. While lending to the “hustler” economy is well-documented, digital wealth creation and preservation products are still lagging.

Ahead of the much-anticipated IPO’s to come to the Nairobi Securities Exchange, EFG Hermes has invested in a platform for retail investors and this week Acorn got approval for Vuka, a platform for retail investors to into REIT’s.

4. African banks get serious about Nairobi: Access (17th largest in Africa) Ecobank (18) and UBA (25) have all had relatively small footprints in Kenya but now have a chance to grow. Across Africa, there are changes in the banking hierarchy with the largest bank group by asset size for decades, Standard Bank of South Africa with a sluggish home economy about to be passed by the National Bank of Egypt 166 billion, as Egypt Bank Misr has also passed SA’s Absa group to be number six on the continent. You can also expect a resurgence in West Africa, into East, perhaps by buying more banks, as Access is with its second bank deal (for Sidian) to leap up the Kenya asset ranks which are led by Equity (37th in Africa) and KCB (40). edit. However, in January 2023, Centum Investments cancelled the agreement to sell its 83.4% stake in Sidian Bank to Access Bank.

edit Jan 27, 2023.

5. The year is expected to usher in a new regime at the Central Bank of Kenya with a new Governor, Deputy (2 positions) and Chairman by June 2023. The current cabinet Secretary of the National Treasury (i.e. the Finance Minister) is himself a former CBK governor. 

After Office Hours with Kris Senanu at the Nairobi Garage

Last Friday, Nairobi Garage hosted an “After Office Hours ” chat session with Kris Senanu, the Managing Director- Enterprise at Telkom Kenya. He is also a successful venture capitalist with diverse investments and is also a judge on KCB Lion’s Den, a televised local version of the Shark Tank show, in which entrepreneurs pitch for investors to fund their companies.

Excerpts from the Q&A  

Balancing Work and Investments: He has a fun day job at Telkom, but he’s an insomniac and is able to do investing work from 6 PM to midnight. He started investing as a “terrible hobby “when he was 21 and he has a high appetite for risk.

He’s Not Just Invested in Tech: “Investments depends on what is the value to me, the community, country and profitability.” He started his first business Yaka Yeke which was about bringing West African fashion, which he liked, to East Africa. Later he got a partner and started Mama Ashanti restaurant because he wanted to eat West African food and saw there was a demand for that.

He doesn’t own any company. He created Blackrock, with his partners, which he doesn’t manage, to consolidate and oversee his investments. They take a maximum of 33% of equity and let the other shareholders deal with the heavy tasks of managing companies while they provide guidance.  He puts in money based on plans, and milestones and has people who check on those. While he may go serve drinks at one of their bars, he does not dwell on the daily numbers but will read reports late at night.

Funding Decisions: He said a key thing for any entrepreneurs seeking funds from investors was to know what type of money to seek. It was not about “do I need equity or debt?” and what amount to ask for, but also about what you need at any particular time – one is for operational expense, the other is for long-term expenses. If you go for equity, there is some money that is good for you, and others to avoid – and some companies get money and right from month one of the new funding, the business or environment changes.

He invests $10,000 to $500,000, and takes on riskier investments – and if it is an area he can add value and scale, it will get investment. He also looks at how passionate an investor is  “are they willing to do this for 10 years or is it just a side-hustle?”Spreadsheets are powerful tools that guide, but also confuse with numbers that can obscure real basic business. Investment decisions take up to six months as they evaluate, build relationships with, and get to understand the entrepreneurs.

Scaling Companies:  His main challenge in the last few years has been scalability – as he says there are good businesses around, but they don’t have the ability to scale. While many do okay in a single market or single country, when numbers are good, investors want to see the businesses go multi-market or multi-country.

He said Nairobi has a lot of venture capital, angel funders, and private equity investors – all with money and who are willing to invest in businesses, but that the lot of money is chasing the few businesses that show scalability, and the ability to be sustainable and profitable in the long-term.

Foreigners Getting Start-Up Funding in Nairobi: On this, he said capital will flow to places and spaces where the capital feels comfortable, and entrepreneurs in Nairobi are going to have to make people more comfortable investing big money with us – and to change that narrative about “capital flowing to foreign faces in local spaces.” He said that it could be a case that some local businesses seeking investors were not fully baked and were perhaps at a stage where they were better off going of debt (convertibles/loans) rather than equity funding. He mentioned an episode of the Lion’s Den where someone mentioned Cellulant in a way that offended him. He said that many managers at Cellulant were former colleagues of his and he had watched the company grow for many years, overcoming many tough times as it ventured across Africa. He said entrepreneurs have to, know when to raise capital, know what to ask for, and that Cellulant was now attracting big funding rounds because of their strategic funding decisions and people have to get better at that in Nairobi.

His Work Philosophy“if you work your whole life for money that is sad; you have to find purpose.” His is to invest in someone else’s visions and help them grow their companies – At Swift, he was employee number 7 and the company grew to 150 staff, while at Access Kenya, he was employee number three, after the founders. He endeavours to grow businesses, create employment, make profits, then exit and move on to the next one.

Night Club IPO? “I have a philosophy is to create one million jobs” but he Knows that is not going to happen through companies, but if he can enable, through his cash, other entrepreneurs to create 10 or 20 or 50 jobs, he will do it. From 2009 he was saving $200 per month, along with some friends who planned to attend the World Cup in South Africa. But he really had no interest in watching soccer and after his wife persuaded him to meet with a young entrepreneur, he ended up giving him the money he had set aside for the World Cup. “I liked the guy, his swag and ideas.” That young man was Amor Thige and the idea was to put money into a nightclub called Skylux Lounge. It later became the top club in Nairobi for several years and changed the nightlife scene.

The Skylux experience led him to invest in another group Tribeka which went on to open five nightclubs – Tribeka, Rafikiz,  Zodiak, Fahrenheit and Natives, and they later added Ebony and Marina Bay at English Point, Mombasa. At its height the group had a turnover of Kshs 87 million a month, rounding out to a billion shillings a year – but what mattered to him more was that the chain was employing 472 people, which was more than the 380 jobs at Access Kenya, a listed company. They also considered doing an IPO for the group, seeing as Kenyans who liked drinking would also like to own a piece of the company, and some of their clubs cost as much as Kshs  60 million to build out.

Where to Find Investment Information and Data? He said there’s so much diversity in Nairobi and cited a few conversations in sports bars about agribusiness that are leading him into investing in macadamia nuts. He is now doing research, scouting for companies and the best places to grow macadamia over the next few years –“it all depends on who you hang with and the conversations you are having”. He said you can get data on private companies from the right people who have no reason to embellish data, and added that even public companies in Kenya and South Africa audited by top firms are later found to have cooked their books.

Why Telkom Kenya?: He said he entered the telecommunications business while there was a giant monopoly, the Kenya Posts & Telecommunications Corporation (KPTC) – that had low-quality, high prices and poor service – and which constricted the growth of communications at the time. So when Access Kenya was sold to Dimension Data he saw working to revamp Telkom Kenya as his next challenge – to grow a viable challenger that disrupts, gives choice and opportunity in the era of another dominant company (). He sees this as his national service to give back to the people of Kenya, through the government, and the ecosystem, and that while people in the room may not appreciate it now, they will in five years.

Decision-Making: 

  • Most difficult decision; firing the smartest person at the company, but who had the worst attitude. it was tough but it was for the greater good of the business.
  • Best decision; sticking to technology. Tech brings change and motion process every day, He’s never bored, he wakes up to have fun. It started while he was selling clothes and Wangari Mathai’s niece asked him to join her at Swift Global and use his sales skills to also sell devices and he’s never looked back.
  • Kris Senanu on his worst decision/regret; not having children earlier.

New African ICT VC Fund

Last week, saw the launch of a new Convergence Partners Communications Infrastructure Fund (CPCIF) from Convergence PartnersIt is a pan African fund that has raised $145 million (from the IFC, EIB, FMO, DBSA and CDC) that they are seeking to invest in companies in communications, fibre, infrastructure, data centres etc. in countries like Kenya , DRC, Rwanda, and Sudan.
The Fund will target established companies with sound management, that are aiming to improve products or quality, or add value to their services – to invest amounts of about of $20-30 million in exchange for stakes of 15-49% with a horizon of about 10 years.

Their past portfolio includes investments in Seacom, New Dawn (with Intelsat) and Internet Solutions (who are taking over at Access Kenya and they plan to open an an East African office soon. 

Separately, in a nice post, @Wanjiku asks if there’s a racial bias in ICT funding from venture capitalists in Africa. 

NSE Moment: Buyouts, Vultures, Divestments

A look at recent deals at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and other privatization and equity bids since the last update. 

Divestments

  • Essar released a bombshell from India that they would be abandoning their investment in the old Kenya Pipeline Refineries and sell their stake back to the Kenya Government for $5 million. At the same time a Receiver Manager put up (the closed) Pan African Paper Mills up for sale, but that is likely to be complicated by links the company had with vulture funds who purchased Panpaper’s debts in the international secondary debt market. These faceless entities — basically different mutations of one group (going by the names like Noon Day Asset Management Asia and Farallon Capital Institutional Partners) — and 11 such firms own 37% of the company’s debt.The Essar fallout prompted Parliament to also look into the mystery of Orange Kenya which keeps asking for more government support even as the government loses equity in the company.Since then, the government announced that a new office will advise the government on state investments: Attorney-General Githu Muigai said the Government Transaction Advisory Services Office will guide state deals with the aim of sealing opportunities where the latter has been losing its shareholding in parastatals without monetary gain.  
  • EDIT: Another divestment is Kenya Wine Agencies Limited (KWAL) finally exiting Uchumi after disposing of all its shares. It had 18% in 2004 and 4% in 2012. – via @NSEKenya 

Done Deals

Recent M&A deals approved by the Kenya Competition Authority include:

  • Agri-Business: The acquisition of Juhudi Kilimo (turnover of Kshs 30 million) by Soros Economic Development Fund.
  • Aviation: The acquisition of Lady Lori Kenya by Ian Mbuthia Mimano, Adi Vinner and Peter Nthiga Njagi.
  • Education: The  purchase of 60% of Safer World Investments by School Operators Limited (owners of Peponi School) (The two will have a combined turnover of Kshs 672 million or ~$8 million)
  • Finance & Banking: The acquisition of Francis Thuo & Partners by Equity Investment Bank.
  • Food: The acquisition of 66% of Coca-Cola Juices Kenya by the Coca-Cola Export Corporation.
  • The acquisition of Lonrho PLC by FS Africa  (as part of a $280 million deal in South Africa).
  • The acquisition of Ma Cuisine by Harper Holdings.
  • Health: The acquisition of Jampharm Chemist by Viva Afya (the two have a combined turnover of Kshs. 19.5 million).
  • The acquisition of Ascribe Group (which has a turnover of Kshs 70 million) by Emis Group.

Deals Bubbling

  • Brookside Dairies have taken over Buzeki, the makers of Molo Milk, in a Kshs 1.1 billion ($13 million) deal that increases Brookside’s share of the dairy market to 44%.  – EDIT GAZETTE NOTICE No.  15068 – THE TRANSFER OF BUSINESSES ACT: NOTICE is given that the furniture, fittings, fixtures and the assets and the stock being the business of manufacturing and selling of milk and milk products owned by Buzeki Dairy Limited (the “Transferor”) on the premises situated at Ganjoni, Mombasa have been sold and transferred by the Transferor to Brookside Dairy Limited who will carry on the said business of manufacturing and selling of manufacture of milk and milk products at the premises of Brookside Dairy Limited under the name and style of Brookside Dairy Limited (the “Transferee”) with effect from 1st November, 2013 (the “Completion Date”).The address of the Transferor is Post Office Box Number P. O. Box 85532-80100, Mombasa, Kenya. The address of the Transferee is Post Office Box Number P.O. Box 236–00232 Ruiru, Kenya. The Transferee is not assuming nor does it intend to assume any creditors or debtors of the Transferor incurred in connection with the purchase and business of the assets of the Transferor up to and including the Completion Date and the same shall be paid and discharged by the Transferor and likewise all debts and liabilities owing and due to the Transferor up to and including the Completion Date shall be received by the Transferor. Dated the 5th November, 2013. KIPKENDA & COMPANY ADVOCATES, Advocates for the Transferor. COULSON HARNEY ADVOCATES
  • Centum shareholders approved new investments in Liberty Beverages, Mvuke Power, Two Rivers Lifestyle Centre, Centum Share Services, Centum Asset Managers (who are buying Genesis Kenya)  and the acquisition of 79% of Kilele Holdings.
  • Africa Media Venture (AMVF) a Dutch-based venture capital firm has raised its stake in a Kenyan restaurant guide website, EatOut, from 25% to 32% for Kshs 17 million ($200,000) in a transaction that values the online portal at Kshs. 220 million.  
  • Lonrho is selling its entire stake (11%) in African airline Fastjet. 
  • Crystal Ventures (owned by the Rwanda Patriotic Front) plan to sell their 20% stake in MTN Rwanda, in an IPO which will make MTN Rwanda the third company listed on the Rwanda Stock Exchange – after Bralirwa and Bank of Kigali.
  • Sameer Investments is buying out 41 million shares that Bridgestone owns in Sameer Africa – after which Sameer will own 159 million shares equivalent to 72% of the company.
  • Across the border, Tanzania’s Precision Air is looking for a government investment, just a year after an IPO which raised $7 million and reduced the shareholding of Kenya Airways from 49% to 35%
  •  Unga Group will acquire Ennsvalley Bakery for Kshs 125M ($1.5 million) and also dispose of its shares in Bullpak.
  • EDIT: Kestrel Capital has arranged a $1.2 million private placement of convertible debentures in Stockport Exploration to local Kenyan qualified investors. Stockport is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and has mining interests in Nyanza Kenya where they are exploring along a prolific gold-hosting greenstone belt. Zeph Mbugua, the Chairman of TransCentury, became a director of Stockport in February this year. 
  • EDIT:  Swedfund, the Swedish state’s venture capital company, and The Africa Health fund through The Abraaj Group, a leading investor operating in global growth markets, made a $6.5 million investment in The Nairobi Women’s Hospital, a leading private healthcare provider for women and their families (men and children) in East Africa.

Shareholder Restructurings

  • Businessman Christopher Kirubi is acquiring an additional 32 million shares in Centum Investments (for ~$8.6 million) which will raise the stake he controls to about 30% and he has received an exemption from complying with the NSE requirement to make a takeover offer.
  • After listing at the NSE, I&M shareholders have done a swop to bring the company’s investor numbers past the 1,000 shareholder mark.
  • The WPP Group (through Cavendish) is increasing its shareholding in Scangroup from 33% to 50%.  WPP, the largest advertising group in the world, is strengthening its control of Kenya and the East African market ahead of the merger of the two other advertising firms – Omnicom the No 2. in the world  (owners of TBWA) and No. 3 – Publicis (of France)  – which, when combined, will be larger than WPP.

De-Listing’s – Companies leaving the NSE 

  • Access Kenya Group after their buyout by Dimension Data was approved by the Government
  • CMC is at the conclusion of a buyout offer from Dubai’s Al-Futtaim Group who are offering existing shareholders Kshs 13 a share, or about $90m. 
  • The Dubai-based conglomerate, which holds lucrative distribution rights for Toyota and Honda in its home market, will help the struggling Nairobi-based automotive group expand its brands beyond its existing stable, which includes Volkswagen, Ford, Mazda and Suzuki.
  • R.E.A. Trading, which owns 56% of Rea Vipingo Plantations has offered to buy out all other shareholders at a price of Kshs 40 per share, representing a 43% premium. The shares that have since been suspended from trading and will be delisted from the NSE if the deal succeeds.

Stalled Deals

  • There was a Financial Times (FT)  article on queues forming to buy up East African retailers but deal opportunities at Nakumatt and Naivas have been hampered by shareholder/family disputes that darken their buyout reputations and possibilities.

Access Kenya EGM

This morning saw what was likely the very last shareholders meeting of Access Kenya, as a public company. The Company Secretary reported receiving 11,207 proxies representing 85% of the shareholders at the extraordinary general meeting (EGM) that was to vote on the de-listing of all the issued 218 million ordinary shares of the company form the Nairobi Securities Exchange following a buyout offer that the board of directors had already endorsed and which 75% of the shareholders had voted in favour of.

A few of the retail shareholders present asked lots of questions about the deal, and it seemed they were unhappy that just over five years after they bought shares in the company at an IPO, after which the share had risen to 38 shillings, before dropping to Kshs. 4, and getting low inconsistent dividends, in between, they were now being evicted from the company.  

Some questions/topics raised:
– Why sell out for Kshs 3 billion (~$35 million) that could easily have been raised locally? The Directors 
– Was there a capital markets (CMA) rule on the minimum number of years that a company had to remain listed after an IPO? The directors said there was none, and the regulators had approved all decisions taken by the directors in the deal 
– Some shareholders said they had bought shares at about Kshs. 18, and were taking a big loss. Directors replied that Kestrel Capital, as an independent advisor, said Kshs. 14 was a good price to take and that Kshs 14 was a big improvement  from the Kshs 4 low in the past year, and Kshs. 9 when the deal was announced and shares frozen. 
– Were the needs of minority shareholders considered in the negotiations, and why didn’t the majority shareholders simply reduce their stakes, instead of selling the company outright?
– Why was the offer to retail shareholders structured as an ‘unconditional’, mandatory one? The directors said that no one was being forced out of the company and that any shareholders who wanted to remain could do so, and they will still receive annual audited accounts from Access Kenya..they noted that there were still some shareholders of Unilever Kenya which delisted  in 2009
– What is the fate of employees who own shares in the ESO..and will they be arm-twisted to vote the shareholders’ acceptances past the 90% threshold? The directors said Dimension Data was a $6 billion company who’s parent was a $100 billion one with ambitious plans for Access Kenya and Eastern Africa.

The final results of the shareholders voted will be tabulated by Deloitte and released in two days – and payments should be made to shareholders in September 2013.