Category Archives: education

Acorn Green Bond for Student Accommodation in Nairobi

This week saw the approval of the first-ever green bond in Kenya, issued by Acorn Holdings to fund student accommodation projects around Nairobi.

Acorn is one of the largest developers in Kenya, having delivered over 50 projects worth $550 million in the last decade. These include the local headquarters for Coca Cola, Equity Bank and Deloitte, and the UAP Tower, which is currently the tallest occupied building in Nairobi. They plan to raise up to Kshs 5 billion ($50 million) investors through a bond that has a bullet maturity in five years and which pays 12.25% interest. The green bond issue is partially guaranteed by GuarantCo up to a maximum of $30 million.

Acorn has ventured into purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), under two brands, Qwetu and Qejani. They are developing projects close to universities around Nairobi, which target students at campuses of USIU, University of Nairobi, Daystar, KCA and Riara universities.

This is to address the current situation where the increasing number of students at universities live in sub-standard housing, without amenities, in poor condition or which are considered unsafe. These are mostly in older building not designed for students such as former domestic-staff quarters. Yet students require reliability water & electricity, Wi-Fi, security, furnishings etc. and which ensure security and privacy.

Qejani is a high-rise, mass-market, offering which students can rent for between Kshs 7,500 -12,500 ($125) per month for single, double or quadruple room accommodations, while Qwetu is their premium brand.  The funding will go towards completing student accommodation facilities including Qwetu USIU Road 3 & Road 4, Sirona Phase 1 & 2, Bogani East Road Qwetu, Bogani East Road Qejani, and Nairobi West Qwetu.

The green bond offer, which is restricted to sophisticated investors, opened on 16 August and closes on 27 September 2019. Allotments will be done on 30 September 2019, with the minimum level of subscription set at 40% for it to be deemed a success.

Other aspects of the bond issue:

  • It is restricted to sophisticated (institutional) investors.
  • Opened on 16 August and closes on 27 September 2019. Allotments will be done on 30 September 2019.
  • The minimum level of subscription is set at 40% for it to be deemed a success.
  • Stanbic Kenya is the issuing and paying agent for the green bonds, and they will confirm that funds will not be used for more than 65% of the project costs with Acorn contributing the other 35%. 
  • Helios Partners are investors in Acorn.
  • GuarantCo is sponsored by the governments of the UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia and Sweden and by FMO, the Dutch development bank.
  • Moody’s Investors Service has assigned a provisional B1 to the Acorn bond.
  • The issue will be certified as a green bond given that Acorn’s projects are constructed in accordance with the International Finance Corporation – IFC’s EDGE (“excellence in design for greater efficiencies”) requirements for sustainable buildings and certified by the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) “.. they aim to steer construction in rapidly urbanizing economies onto a more low-carbon path. Certification is based on benefits generated from providing solutions in construction and operation: energy, water, and materials.” 
  • The green bonds program is endorsed by the Central Bank of Kenya, the Capital Market Authority and the National Treasury.

M&A Moment: January 2019

The Competition Authority of Kenya recently approved the completion of several corporate merger and acquisition (M&A) deals. They are interesting in that they reveal some revenue and deal value numbers that private companies, acquirers, and equity funds usually don’t make public.  The deals were all approved with exclusions as the transactions between the affected companies  will not affect competition negatively and they met the threshold for exclusion under the “merger threshold guidelines.”

The deals and exclusions include:

Airline/ Oil/Energy/Mining M&A

  • (The Competition Authority of Kenya [CA-K]) .. Excludes the proposed acquisition of 51% of Selenkei Ltd by Frontier Energy as the acquirer assets for the preceding year (2017) was KShs. 225 million while the target’s assets was KShs. 4 million and the combined assets valued at KShs. 222 million meet the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of control of Paygo Energy by Novastar Ventures East Africa Fund 1 LP and FPCI Energy Access Venture Fund as the acquirers had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s turnover was KShs 2 million
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 51% of Cedate by Frontier Energy as the acquirer assets for the preceding year 2017 was KShs. 225 million while the target’s assets was KShs. 355 million and the combined assets valued at KShs. 580 million meet the threshold for exclusion.
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of the entire issued share capital in Iberafrica Power (E. A) by AEP Energy Africa
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of control of Consolidated Infrastructure Group by Fairfax Africa Holdings.
  • edit The CA-K has approved the acquisition of Cemtech Ltd by Simba Cement, which is owned by the Devki Group. Cemtech has limestone and clay deposits and licenses for extraction in West Pokot but has been dormant for a decade. Its shareholders have been looking for a partner (another deal had been mooted in 2013 ) to finance a cement plant, and Simba plan to resuscitate it by acquiring its land, business, intellectual property, records, equipment, goodwill, licenses, stock and third party rights. Simba has an 8% share of the cement market behind Bamburi (33%), Mombasa Cement (16%), East African Portland (15%), Savannah (15%), National (8)and Athi River Mining (13%) (March 2019).

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

  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 44% of Cellulant Corporation by The Rise Fund Certify, L.P. as the acquirer had a turnover of KShs. 93 million for the preceding year 2017 while target had a turnover of KShs. 752 million and therefore, the combined turnover of KShs. 844 million meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 12% of Pezesha Africa with certain controlling rights by Consonance Kuramo Special Opportunities Fund 1 as the acquirer’s turnover for the preceding year 2017 was KShs. 6.2 million while the target’s turnover was KShs. 3.1 million
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 100% of Serian Asset Managers by Cytonn Asset Managers as the acquirer had a turnover of KShs. 0.9 million for the preceding year 2017 while target had a turnover of KShs. 1.1 million for the preceding year 2017 and therefore, the combined turnover of KShs. 1.9 million meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • The Competition Authority approved the acquisition of indirect control of Abraaj Investment Management by Actis International. Abraaj controls Star Foods Holdings, which ultimately controls Java House Ltd in Kenya.
  • CA-K approved the proposed purchase and subscription of up to 25% shareholding in Prime Bank by Africinvest Azure SPV

Agri-Business, Food & Beverage M&A

  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 99.9% of  Twiga Foods Limited by Twiga Holdings as the acquirer has no operations in Kenya and therefore had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s turnover was KShs. 140 million and the transaction meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of the business and assets of Anchor Flour Millers Company by Archaic Industries Kenya as the acquirer is a natural person with no business activities and had no turnover or assets for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s turnover was KShs. 97.3 million.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of class B ordinary shares in Fertiplant East Africa by Oikocredit, Ecumenical Development Cooperative Society U.A as the acquirer is a natural person and had no turnover or assets for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s assets were valued at KShs. 47.5 million.
  • The Competition Authority approved the proposed acquisition of 100% of Art-Caffe Coffee and Bakery Ltd by Artcaffe Group
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of certain assets and part of the business of Kreative Roses limited by Kongoni River Farm on condition that the target retains 43 of its employees while the acquirer employs the remaining 362 employees for at least one year after the completion of the proposed transaction.
  • edit The biscuit manufacturing and selling business carried on by Golden Biscuits (1985) at L.R. No. 209/4260, Kampala Road, Industrial Area, Nairobi, will be transferred to Trufoods Limited pursuant to the terms of a business and asset transfer agreement entered into between the Transferor and Transferee on 7th February, 2019.

Health and Medical, Pharmaceutical M&A

  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 32.5% of the shares with certain veto rights in King Medical Supplies by LGT Capital Invest Mauritius PCC Cell E/VP as the acquirer is a newly incorporated company and had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s turnover was KShs. 20.9 million.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 32.5% of the shares with certain Veto Rights in City Eye Hospital by LGT Capital Invest Mauritius PCC Cell E/VP as the acquirer is a newly incorporated company and had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s turnover was KShs. 62.1 million.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of sole control of Hain Lifescience East Africa Kenya by Bruker Daltonik GMBH as the acquirer’s turnover for the preceding year 2017 was KShs. 102 million while the target’s turnover was KShs. 106 million and the combined turnover of KShs. 208 million meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of the manufacturing and distribution business of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Company (Kenya) by Shalina Healthcare Kenya as the acquirer’s assets for the preceding year 2017 was KShs. 0.4 million while the target’s value of asset was KShs. 43 million and the combined value of asset of KShs. 44 million meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of certain assets of Maghreb Pharmacy by Goodlife Pharmacy as the target had a turnover of KShs. 15 million for the preceding year 2016 and therefore, the transaction meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 60% shareholding in AK Life Sciences by CSSAF Lifeco Holdings as the acquirer had a turnover of KShs. 377 million for the preceding year 2017 while target had a turnover of KShs. 125 million for the preceding year 2017 and therefore, the combined turnover of KShs. 503 million meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • The competition authority approved the proposed acquisition of the entire share capital in Arysta Lifescience Inc by UPL Corporation.
  • The Competition Authority authorized the proposed investment by Tunza Health Investments in Pyramid Healthcare Ltd.
  • The Competition Authority approved, the acquisition of 100% of the business and assets of Desbro (Kenya) by Brenntang (Holding) B.V. on condition that Brenntang retains the 80 employees of Desbro for a period of one year. Desbro distributes over 600 industrial chemicals to various industries in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia.

Logistics, Engineering, & Manufacturing M&A

  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 100% of the shares in JGH Marine A/S and JOHS. Gram-Hanssen A/S by Pitzner Gruppen Holding A/S  as the acquirer has no presence in Kenya and, therefore, had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while target had a turnover of KShs. 392 million for the preceding year 2017 and therefore, the transaction meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of the assets and business of Socabelec East Africa by Cockerill East Africa as the acquirer had a turnover of KShs. 193, million for the preceding year 2016 while target had a turnover of KShs. 226 million the preceding year 2016 and therefore, the combined turnover of KShs. 419 million meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 55% of  Air Sea Logistics (ASL) by Expolanka Freight PZCO as the acquirer had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s turnover for the preceding year 2017 was KShs. 8 million and therefore meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of the assets of Rich Logistics (K) by Bigcold Kenya as the acquirer is newly incorporated and hence, had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while the target had a turnover of KShs. 48 million for the preceding year 2017 and therefore, the transaction meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of the stationery and shavers manufacturing, sales and distribution of stationery, lighters and shavers business of Haco Industries Kenya  by BIC East Africa.
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of the Kenyan freight forwarding business and assets of Dodwell & Co (East Africa) and those of Inchcape Shipping Services Kenya by ISS Global Forwarding (Kenya) – which is owned by Investment Corporate of Dubai (ICD). 
  • The Competition Authority approved the proposed acquisition of the assets and business of Blue Nile Wire Products by Blue Nile Rolling Mills.
  • The Competition Authority approved the acquisition of the assets and business of Wild Elegance Fashions by Wild Elegance Africa.
  • The Competition Authority approved the proposed acquisition of 73.6% of Sintel Security Print Solutions by Ramco Plexus. Sintel is involved in the printing and supply of scratch cards, highly secured cheques and custom labels.
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of the business and assets of Office Mart by Sai Office Supplies
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of the business and assets of Lino Stationers by Sai Office Supplies on condition that the acquirer employs not less than 57 out of the 74 employees after the completion of the proposed transaction.

Real Estate, Tourism, & Supermarkets M&A

  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 40% of Dufry Kenya by Ananta as the acquirer had no turnover for the preceding year 2016 while the target had a turnover of KShs. 269 million for the preceding year 2016 and therefore, the transaction meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed joint venture between Scan-Thor Group and Otto International GmbH as the acquirer has no market presence in Kenya and, therefore, had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while target had a turnover of KShs. 11 million for the preceding year 2017 and therefore, the transaction meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • Excludes the proposed transfer of 100% of Norbu Manda Pwani Ltd to Margot Kiser from the provisions of Part IV of the as the acquirer is a natural person and had no turnover or assets for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s assets were valued at KShs. 47.5 million.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of the business and assets of Giraffe Ark Game Lodge by Archaic Industries Kenya as the acquirer is a newly incorporated company and had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while the target’s turnover was KShs. 51.5 million
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of the business of Ocean Sports (2006) by Ocean Sports Hotel as the acquirer had no turnover for the preceding year 2016 while the target’s turnover was KSh. 44.6 million.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 34.48% of African Forest Lodges by Earth Friends LLP as the acquirer is a newly incorporated company and has no assets or turnover for the preceding year 2016 while the target’s assets was KShs. 197 million.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of the (Furniture, fittings, equipment and Prefabricated building) assets of Me To We Ltd by Bogani Training, excludes the proposed acquisition of the (motor vehicle) assets of Me To We Ltd by Minga Ltd and excludes the proposed acquisition of the assets  (vehicles, beads, stocks) of Me To We Ltd by Araveli For Mamas as the acquirers had no turnover for the preceding year 2016 while the target’s turnover for the preceding year 2016 was KShs. 68 million and therefore, meets the threshold for exclusion.
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of control of Tumaini Self Service by Sokoni Retail Kenya. Tumani operates retail stores in Nairobi, Kisumu and Kajiado.
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of Nova Academics Tatu City Property Ltd by Summit Real Estate Pty
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya approved the proposed acquisition of 100% of Hillcrest Investment Holdings by Education Asia Holdings – which is an investment holding company owned by GEMS Global Schools. Hillcrest operates three learning institutions in Nairobi – Hillcrest Early Years, Hillcrest Preparatory School and Hillcrest Secondary School.

Telecommunications, Media & Publishing M&A

  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 39% of the shareholding in the Star Publication by Avandale Investments and 10% of the shareholding by Adil Arshed Khawaja as the acquirer had no turnover for the financial year ending 30th June 2017 while the target’s turnover was KShs. 679 million.
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of Mobile Web (trading as Hivisasa) by Novastar Ventures Easy Africa Fund 1 L.P.  as the acquirer had no turnover for the preceding year 2017 while target had a turnover of KShs. 14 million or the preceding year 2017 and therefore, the transaction meets the threshold for exclusion.

Other M&A

  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of Dc Xiang Kenya Company by Lin Bingwei from the provisions of Part IV of the Act as the acquirer is a natural person with no business activities and had no turnover or assets for the preceding year 2017 while the target is a newly incorporated company and had no turnover or assets;
  • Excludes the proposed acquisition of 100% of the shares in Kesar Investments by Dipak Lakshman Halai and Ramesh Kurji Visram as the acquirer are individuals and had no turnover for the preceding year 2016 while the target’s assets was KES 0.07 million
  • CA-K approved the proposed acquisition of Zelepak Africa by PPG  Holdings

CA-K, as a regulator, has not yet reported on two mega deals; the proposed bank merger between CBA and NIC and the buyout of Kenol by Rubis that will lead to a delisting of the company. edit: Later in January 2019, the Competition Authority approved the Rubis-Kenol deal along with a few other deals. 

Also, see some other deals approved six years ago.

$1 = Kshs 101

Rewiring Education

This week, the M-Pesa Foundation Academy and Nairobi International School hosted author John Couch, who was first Vice President of Apple Inc., for a talk session on “rewiring education.” The chief guest was Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for ICT, Joe Mucheru. 

Rewiring Education speakers.

Excerpts from the rewiring education Q&A: 

  • Kids come into employment fully trained in things that are no longer relevant. They then have to unlearn that, and we are working with universities to modernize the curriculum.
  • Schools have to hire teachers who are registered with the Teachers Service Commission. But those who are there only have B.Ed (Bachelor of Education degrees), and lack skills to stand in front of students who are far ahead of them in technical knowledge.
  • The Kenya government has developed a brilliant curriculum, that will start next year, but teachers have not been trained to deliver this. International schools take three years to retrain a teacher.
  • The median age in Kenya is 19 years, and half the civil service is made up of teachers.
  • The most important skill to have in life is (to embrace) continuous learning.
  • Schools can currently evaluate student memorization, but not their creativity and innovation abilities.
  • “When I was studying at Berkeley, California in the 1970’s, people thought the social revolution was taking place in the streets, but I knew it was taking place inside computers.”
  • Safaricom set out to provide connectivity to all schools in Kenya and the government was to provide the devices.
  • “The way we are teaching kids is a disservice and I am in the process of suing the UK government for wasting thirteen years of my life!”
  • The US also treats teachers as a union problem, not a professional occupation. Teachers are underpaid and under-trained.

Makini Schools Sold

Edit: September 4, 2018: A 71% interest in Makini School Limited (via Schole Mauritius Limited) was acquired on 1 May 2018 for a consideration of R130.8 million (about Sh930 million), disclosed Advtech in a trading update last week. (Read more in the Business Daily.)

EDIT April 17 2018:  One of South Africa’s leading private schools  will soon open its doors in burgeoning Tatu City. Crawford Kenya International College is the brainchild of JSE-listed ADvTECH, Africa’s largest private education provider which recently acquired the Makini group of schools. Set to open in September 2018, and with a capacity for 1700 students, Crawford Kenya will teach the UK/Cambridge Curriculum in modern, trendy facilities – which include a multifunctional indoor sports centre, a swimming pool, outdoor sports fields and tennis and basketball courts. Additionally, it will also provide high school boarding facilities.

Original April 3, 2018:  It’s now official: The Okelo family, the owners, and founders of the Makini group of schools, have agreed to sell the company to an international education partnership consisting of two pan-African educational institutions – ADvTECH Ltd (which is listed on the JSE in South Africa) and Scholé Ltd.

The Makini group was founded, fourty years ago, in 1978 by Dr. Mary Okelo, and her late husband Dr. Pius Okelo, who passed away in a road accident in 2004.

Makini has 8 schools on 4 campuses in Nairobi and Kisumu and 3,200 students in nursery, primary and secondary schools (from Kindergarten to Grade 12). The consortium that is acquiring all the shares in Makini has committed to enhancing the quality of education at Makini, and that the schools will continue teaching the Kenyan educational curriculum.

ADvTECH runs 117 educational sites in Southern Africa and Scholé operates schools in Zambia and Uganda – and Kisubi High School, a boarding school in Kampala with 900 students, will become part of the partnership. 

See other recent M&A deals 

Kenya’s Money in the Past: Bethwell Ogot Footprints on the Sands of Time

My Footprints on the Sands of Time is an autobiography by Professor Bethwell Ogot (wikipedia),  an eminent academic scholar. It is a tale of a young man overcoming incredible hardships, and going through early schooling at Maseno, and later through winning scholarships and prizes, on to excelling at Makerere, St. Andrews (Scotland) and teaching with Carey Francis at Alliance High School. It also touches on his work and roles in the establishment of the University of Nairobi, and Maseno University, and at his travels to present papers and speak at prestigious conferences and other institutions across the world.

Ogot narrates tales on growing up in Luo culture, seeing emerging economic changes e.g. he took a honeymoon trip to Uganda in 1959 traveling on first class from Kisumu to Kampala via Nakuru, a twenty-seven-hour train journey. Later, when his father died on August 30, 1978, this was the day before Kenya’s first president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was to be buried, and it was a period when the sole broadcaster – the Voice of Kenya refused to publish any other death announcements, newspapers would not publish any other obituaries as a sign of respect to Kenyatta, and coffin-makers were not willing to make any other coffins.

He was close to former schoolmates, who were now in government and its leaders. Ogot was waiting to meet Tom Mboya for lunch at the New Stanley Hotel when Mboya was shot (his death was not unexpected to his friends), and Ogot had an encounter with Mboya’s killer who was fleeing the scene.  He writes of his work to establish and get government and financial support for the Ramogi Institute of Advanced Technology – RIAT and a delicate dance with community leaders including Oginga Odinga who was firmly out of government.

The book has a wealth of information on corporate governance and management from Ogot’s time at regional bodies, parastatals, international organizations, donor-funded ones, universities that were in slow decline and government. He writes of working in research and publishing, and struggling to document and publish African history. Also of his times at the East African Publishing House that published books on political science, history, geography and a modern African library with much opposition from British Publishers who controlled publishing and later from government officials who set out to shut down independent academic stories. They published Okot p’Bitek’s Song of Lawino that some critics considered a terrible poem ahead of its publication but which went on to be celebrated and sell over 25,000 copies.

There are also stories of navigating the East African Legislative Assembly, travels around East Africa, interacting with leaders and observing actions that were either supporting or undermining the East African Community. Uganda’s President Amin spoke of supporting the community even as he launched Uganda Airlines that he said would only do domestic flights in Uganda. There was also the importation of goods for Zambia through Mombasa that undermined the Dar es Salaam port and the Tazara railway, so Tanzania banned Kenyans trucks with excess tonnage from using their highways, and Kenya retaliated by closing its border with Tanzania. Officials in different countries also tried to keep community assets from leaving their borders, and Kenya grounded planes and withheld fuel of East Africa Airways which owed money to Kenya banks in a move designed to hurt vast Tanzania the most.

The most shocking tales are from his time working at the Museums of Kenya and its spinoff that saw Ogot as the first director of The International Louis Leakey Memorial Institute for African Prehistory – TILLMIAP (see an excerpt). It is a serious indictment of Richard Leakey who regarded TILLMIAP as his personal family fund-raising institution and who, with the support of Charles Njonjo in government and diplomats and donor agencies, warded off transparency and Africanization efforts – and was eventually to hound Ogot out of the institution.

Another tale is of when, as the candidate representing Africa on the executive board of UNESCO, he ran for the Presidency of the General Conference. But what should have been a formality of confirming his position became a long process after a surprise Senegalese candidate emerged to run against him – and France lobbied Francophone countries to only vote for a French-speaking African candidate, rules were changed, documents forged, and additional multiple election steps added before Ogot finally won.

The 500+ page book by Prof. Ogot does not have an index, but it’s worth reading all over again.