Category Archives: NPA

Nairobi Real Estate Moment: 2021

  • The Nairobi Expressway construction that will span from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Westlands, has reached downtown Nairobi and is causing disruptions to real estate and traffic .. some changes to retail include..

  • Changes to Malls – many of which are largely idle above the first floor. Quite a bit of foot traffic there is from bank customers visiting their branches which have now been relocated to the third and fourth floors of Nairobi malls.

Other real estate stories.

  • An EFG Hermes report on Nairobi real estate found the demand for affordable houses has a disconnect that has seen prices are softening in Nairobi – at high-end residential (-27% below 2017 peak), and commercial properties (-13% off-peak). Also, the tough Nairobi office market is very visible (vacancy rates of 22% compared to 9% in 2011) with exposure to some financing banks including KCB and Housing Finance.
  • Orbit Group and Grit Group have partnered on a 25-year $53.6 million sale & leaseback transaction for a light industrial (warehouse and manufacturing) property on Mombasa Road, supported with a $25 million loan from the IFC. Orbit Products Africa, controlled by the Sachen Chandaria family, is a leading contract manufacturer for brands in personal care and home care products and its clients include Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever, Colgate and Henkel. They will expand the plant by an additional 14,741 m2 warehouse space and improve it to modern FMCG industry standards to achieve an IFC EDGE green building certification on completion. As part of the deal, $31.5 million will be a “perpetual note”, raised from Ethos Mezzanine Partners GP and BluePeak Private Capital and additional proceeds from this will be invested in the St Helene Private Hospital in Mauritius, an idea that was conceived by Catalyst Principal Partners. Grit Real Estate Income Group is listed in London and Mauritius 
  • A Knight Frank report, the “Africa Logistics Review” finds that Nairobi had the best real estate market between 2018 and 2021 for prime warehousing and logistics.  “Nairobi recorded the highest increase in average prime rents across Africa, from USD 4.70 psm in 2018 to USD 6 psm ” – and developers have grown over 170,000 square meters in the last five years. Kenya has the highest concentration of special economic zones (SEZ) in Africa (61 of the 180 SEZ’s). The country is also making good progress to grade A warehousing and in growing a real estate investment trust (REIT) ecosystem.  Also because of high land values in Nairobi, developers have sought towns/areas beyond traditional industrial hotspots Read more.
  • Speaking of REITs .. Acorn Project (Two) LLP, the Issuer of the Acorn Medium-Term Green Note (MTN) Program, closed the final tranche on 16th July 2021, raising Kshs 2.096 billion against the target of Kshs 1.438 billion representing a subscription rate of 146%.  As part of this transaction, the Acorn green bond was converted into the Acorn Student Accommodation Development REIT (ASA D-REIT). Read more.
  • The Architectural Association Of Kenya reported on development challenges within the Nairobi metropolitan area. A decade after an electronic construction-permitting system covering Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, Machakos, Kisumu, Kajiado and Kilifi was deployed with the support of the World Bank Group, it is plagued by frequent disruptions and system downtime. In Nairobi, the system has not been operational for more than three months of 2021 and in a survey of AAK members, 46.7% of the respondents indicated that they had to wait for over 6 months for their applications to be processed or granted approval.
  • Kenya’s Lands Ministry is doing a digitization of title deeds through a National Land Information System (NLIMS), referred to as ArdhiSasa with a goal to have all land records digitized by the end of 2022.  The Lands Cabinet Secretary indicated that the Ministry has scanned and digitized 30 million documents in Nairobi.
  • A Cytonn Real Estate report on properties in the years 2020 found that “residential units in Thindigua, Syokimau and Rosslyn recorded the highest returns to investors and land asking prices recorded an overall annualized capital appreciation of 2.3%.” According to the report, Gigiri was the best performing office node in FY’2020, followed by Westlands and Karen, In the retail sector, Westlands and Karen were the best performing nodes while in hospitality, Westlands-Parklands was the best performing node. Read more in the report.
  • Cytonn is now doing a restructuring and has applied to wind down two funds – the Cytonn High Yield Solutions LLP and Cytonn Real Estate Project Notes LLP through administration and has invited creditors to submit their debt claims, with proof, to Kereto Marima who is the appointed administrator – by November 29, 2021.
  • Hotels are not doing well with many iconic sites closed or on sale due to Covid-19 and the resultant curfews and travel bans that have affected the flow of tourists into Kenya.
  • Many hotels expect a steady recovery once the curfew is lifted (which happened in October 2021). See a survey of hoteliers by the Central Bank of Kenya.

Some hotels that are gone: Intercontinental and the Nairobi Dusit/ D2 which recovered after the January 2019 terror attacks only to succumb in the Covid-19 aftermath.

Some hotels currently closed: Mt Kenya Safari Club, Norfolk, Radisson Blu.

Some hotels on sale: Outspan, Treetops (should the Queen buy the hotel ahead of her 100th birthday?), Fairview and Country Lodges, Jumuia (Nakuru).  

Absa Kenya rebounds from Covid hit

As the wave of quarterly financial results by Kenyan banks stream in this month, the banking industry appears to have recovered from the early effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Absa Bank, Kenya’s fifth-largest bank with assets of Kshs 398 billion ($3.6 billion), released its results, showing a 5x growth in pre-tax profits in the half-year, from 1.6 billion last June to 8.0 billion in June 2021. In the half-year period,  it made provisions of Kshs 1.9 billion compared to Kshs 5.3 billion last June. Overall, loans have grown from Kshs 202 to 219 billion (8%) while deposits have grown from Kshs 249 to 264 billion, representing a loan-to-deposit ratio of 83%. 

The banking industry made many responses to Covid-19, including reducing digital bank charges and restructuring customer loans. Absa restructured 59,000 loans worth Kshs 62 billion, representing 30% of its balance sheet. Absa Kenya’s Managing Director, Jeremy Awori, said it had been a good initiative to work with customers as, by June 2021, 94% of the loans have resumed repayments and the bank’s non-performing asset levels were down to below the industry average of 14%. 

In the last seven years, the bank had doubled the size of its balance sheet, navigated the re-branding from Barclays to Absa, and brought down its cost to income ratio from 53% to 45%.

Absa will optimize costs through technology to improve banking services. In 2021, it will invest Kshs 1.6 billion in technology initiatives; they have already launched WhatsApp banking and will upgrade the Timiza digital banking platform, expand agency banking, automate securities trading and increase cash deposit ATMs and rollout of contactless cards. 

Going forward, Absa Kenya management expects that, with the built-up strong capital and liquidity, the bank will be in a good position to pay a dividend to the shareholders at the end of the year which they missed last year.

All about EADB

The East African Development Bank (EADB) is a development finance institution, headquartered in Kampala, Uganda and has country offices in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. It was one of the  few institutions that survived the collapse of the original East African community. Its main products are medium-term financing and its long-term loans for projects that can be durations of 12 years. 

The bank is in the news over a case involving Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary Raphael Tuju over their demand that he repays $13.6 million (~Kshs 1.4 billion) that arose from a $9.19 million loan in April 2015. 

Excerpts from the 2019 EADB annual report:

  • The bank is owned by four East African countries; the Governments of Kenya 27%, Uganda 27%, Tanzania 23% and Rwanda 9.5%. Other shareholders are the African Development Bank with 8.8% and FMO Netherlands with 2.7%. 
  • EADB has $374 million in assets, which includes $190M in cash in the banks. It earned a profit of $8.7 million (~Kshs 944 million). It is exempt from taxes in all members countries but pays no dividend as their policy is to build up capital of the bank.
  • Had $152 million (~Kshs 16.5 billion) of loans of which $58M (38%) are to Tanzania ventures, $39M to Uganda, $36M to Kenya ones and $17M to Rwanda borrowers. $109 million (71%) of the loans are in US dollars which is the preferred currency of most borrowers.
  • Of the loans, $92M are in stage one (performing normally), $52M in stage two (higher credit risk) and $7M are in stage 3 (impaired). 
  • During the year, existing clients – Kayonza Tea Growers, Centenary Rural Development Bank, Opportunity Bank, and the Government of Tanzania all increased their borrowing. Also in 2019, some long term loans paid off and exited the bank including Nkumba University, Sugar Corporation of Uganda and New Forest Company. The bank also participated in the official launch of the Lake Turkana Wind Power which they partially-financed while Strathmore University completed a Law School Centre for which EADB has provided a Kshs 422M loan.
  • The bank disbursed $21.3 million to new projects during the year. Some were: in Tanzania (National Housing Corporation, $30M to Iyumbu Satellite Centre, and to Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation to distribute natural gas to 30,000 households), in Uganda ($6.3M for a medical consumables manufacturing plant in Kampala), in Rwanda ($10M to a new cement plant and four lines of credit to a national development bank) and in Kenya (Kshs 30M working capital to Jumuia Hospitals in Huruma), Sidian Bank (EUR 2 million credit line) and Musoni Microfinance  (EUR 1 million credit line). 
  • They have borrowed $81 million from multilateral development banks and other financial institutions including the European Investment Bank, African Development Bank ($22M), CBA ($9M), the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa ($10M) and a new line from KFW Germany ($7.8M) whose recipients include Sidian Bank, Musoni Diary and West Kenya Sugar. 
  • Kenya’s  Treasury Principal Secretary, Dr. Julius Muia sits on the board while Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Amb. Ukur Yattani sits on the Governing Council along with other East African finance ministers.

Older notes on how EADB is different from a typical commercial bank:

  • EADB disburses payments to third parties e.g. supplier or contractors for work done/services rendered to sponsor. Disbursements are made against presented supplier invoice or completion certificate for building works. They insist that sponsors procure through open tendering as much as possible.
  • Most EADB loans are repaid quarterly except leases which are monthly. Projects are required to set up standing orders for loan repayment. 
  • They don’t have a deposit-taking, commercial bank so borrowers make repayments to special accounts at other banks (escrow accounts) e.g. payments from buyers of apartments financed by EADB are made into such accounts.
  • Companies are required to submit quarterly accounts for monitoring and failure to submit accounts can delay further disbursement to a project.
  • EADB lending approval decisions are made based on the loan amount involved and applications that are larger than $1 million are approved by the board of directors.
  • As a DFI, some criteria for the financing of projects include economic measures such as increasing the level of real consumption, contribution to government revenue (corporate tax, VAT, excise, export taxes), foreign exchange saved, and employment opportunities created.
  • Projects in arrears get transferred to their “Work Out Unit,” a special department that determines how to resolve these – either by a recovery (sale of assets), write-off (after selling assets), or a turnaround (reviving projects to normal) which is the preferred and most successful option. Sometimes, the borrower is asked to recommend a buyer of assets (provide leadership) if it becomes necessary to sell some of them. 
  • The bank enjoys immunity from prosecution and this has been raised by Tuju’s lawyers in several pleadings. In the past, EADB has also faced challenges including petitions to wind it up, such as a decade ago when they trying to recover over $13M from Blueline, a Tanzanian transporter.  
  • edit On September 28, the OPEC Fund for International Development signed a $20 million loan in favour of the East African Development Bank to go towards supporting SMEs and infrastructure projects in East Africa, in the third loan of this kind that the OPEC Fund has provided to EADB.

National Bank Responds to KCB Takeover Bid

National Bank of Kenya (NBK) has published a circular over the proposed takeover by the KCB Group.

KCB has also now published their own circular for NBK shareholders, that has been approved by the CMA and which details their side of the deal.

NBK Circular Highlights:

  • The board of NBK recommends shareholders approve the Kshs 9 billion deal even though they value their share at Kshs 6.10  as no competing offers have been received so far, and the bank, while strong, needs additional capital to meet regulatory capital and grow its business. They add that the Government has a policy of sector consolidation to create strong banks.
  • NBK is the thirteenth largest bank in Kenya, a Tier-2 bank.
  • KCB has proposed that NBK continue to operate as a separate subsidiary of KCB for two years during which there will be no staff changes. An integration will come after, along with an organizational structure review, which may lead to a reduction of the workforce and “optimization” of the distribution network. i.e. branches, ATM’s and agents. NBK has 1,356 staff, serving about 650,000 customers.
  • Deal a foregone conclusion?: After the re-designation of the preference shares, NBK’s two key shareholders, the Government of Kenya and National Social Security Fund own a combined 93.23% of the bank’s shares.
  • KCB valued NBK at Kshs 5.6 billion. NBK has 48,987 shareholders who will receive 147,383,968 ordinary shares in the share capital of KCB, equivalent to approximately 4.59% of the share capital of KCB.. The NBK Board appointed Standard Investment Bank (SIB) to independent advise them on the market value of NBK and SIB arrived at a fair value for each NBK share of Kshs 6.10 – the result of combining the dividend discount method (5.41), net assets multiple (6.62) and historical share trading price (5.01).
  • Listing history: NBK was wholly owned by the Government until 1994 when it sold by 32% to the public through a listing on the NSE, followed by another share sale in May 1996. One of the conditions of the KCB offer is that the NBK shareholders should approve the de-listing of NBK from the NSE.

The NBK board’s opinion on the bank’s valuation is not expected to change anything unless a competing bid materializes – and the deadline for that is July 17.

KCB’s Circular to NBK Shareholders:

  • KCB has invited NBK shareholders to accept their offer by completing and returning forms during the offer period that runs from 10 July to 30 August. If the deal succeeds, their new swapped shares will list on September 16. 
  • On the pricing, NBK traded 26,638 shares per day in the last 6 months. In the last three months, NBK share prices ranged from Kshs 4.3 to 4.5 while those of KCB ranged from Kshs 38 – 44.
  • KCB reserves the right to vary the terms of its offer up to 5 days before the closing date (which means they have a chance to improve on any competing offer).
  • If 75% of NBK shareholders accept the offer, the others will remain minority shareholders in an unlisted (NBK) company, but if over 90% accept, then KCB will move to compulsorily acquire the remaining shares of other NBK shareholders.
  • KCB notes that NBK’s loan book has a non-performing ratio of 49%. 
  • Any share amounts that convert into fractions of a share in the swap formula will be rounded upwards to a full share.
  • There is a long-stop date of Thursday 31 October, 2019, and if the deal is not concluded by then, the KCB offer will lapse, and all acceptances will be considered void.

Ghana bank reforms continue

Continuing banks reforms in Ghana, from back in 2018, the Bank of Ghana issued a new statement (PDF) on the state of banking in the country for the end of that year.

It stated that they had inherited a system with distressed banks that were not adequately capitalized, and which had high non-performing loans, and cases of insolvency and illiquidity – largely a result of poor corporate governance, false financial reporting, and insider dealings.

They noted that they had revoked seven licenses and arranged for those banks to exit in an orderly way and that after a recapitalization push, there were 23 banks with universal banking licenses in Ghana that had met the minimum paid-up capital of GHF 400 million (~$83 million) at the end of the year.

Excerpts:

  • The Bank of Ghana had approved three merger applications – (i) of First Atlantic Merchant and Energy Commercial banks, (ii) of Omni and Sahel Sahara banks and that of (iii) First National and GHL banks, as pension funds had invested equity in five other banks through a special purpose holding company called the Ghana Amalgamated Trust (GAT).
  • Another bank, GN Bank, was unable to comply with the capital requirement and its request to downgrade, from a universal banking license, to a savings and one had been approved. 
  • The Bank of Baroda has divested from Ghana following a decision by its parent bank which is wholly-owned by the Government of India. Subsequently, the Bank of Ghana has approved its winding down plan and allowed all the customers, assets and loans of Baroda Ghana to be migrated to Stanbic Bank Ghana.
  • Two other banks Premium and Heritage had their licenses revoked, and a receiver manager from PricewaterhouseCoopers appointed to take charge of the banks. Premium was found to have been insolvent while Heritage had obtained its license in 2016 on the basis of capital with questionable sources. All deposits of the banks were transferred to Consolidated Bank and the Ghana government has issued a bond to support the transfer of assets.

EDIT August 16 2019: The Bank of Ghana revoked the licenses of 23 insolvent savings and loans companies and finance house companies as well as 2 non-bank financial institutions.

The regulators had assessed the savings and loan and finance house sub-sectors and found challenges of low capital, excessive risk-taking, use of depositor funds for personal projects, weak corporate governance, creative accounting and persistent regularity branches and non-compliance.

The institutions are Accent Financial, Adom S&L, Alltime Finance, Alpha Capital S&L, ASN, CDH, Commerz S&L, Crest Finance, Dream Finance, Express S&L, First Allied, First African, First Ghana S&L, FirstTrust, Global Access, GN S&L, Ideal Finance, IFC, Legacy Capital, Midland, Sterling Financial, Unicredit Ghana and the Women’s World Banking Ghana S&L .