Category Archives: NSE bonds

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.

EDIT October 3, 2019.

 

Book Review – King Leopold’s Ghost

A quick reading of a fascinating book, by Adam Hochschild, about the history of the Congo between the years 1885 and 1908 when it was controlled by King Leopold II of Belgium.

Starting Out: The Berlin conference did not partition Africa, the spoils were too large at that point it took many more treaties. At the time of the conference, Europeans thought of African wealth in terms of coastlines, not the interior. Leopold got the centre of Africa while other nations focused on the coast as they did not realize how vast the Congo was.

Revenue: Etat indépendant du Congo (the Congo Free State) was a very profitable venture for Leopold thanks to ivory and rubber. The Congo was a private state of the King and got half the profits from concession companies. Records from one of them, the Anglo Belgian Indian Rubber Exploration Company, showed that ABIR spent 1.35 Francs per kilo to harvest rubber in the Congo and ship it to their headquarters in Antwerp where it sold for up to 10 Francs per kilo – and in six years to 1898 rubber prices had gone up thirty times. Transportation costs aside, harvesting wild rubber required no cultivation, no fertilizer and no capital investment, only labour, for which the concession companies brutally used the people of the Congo as slave labour.

Leopold kept the Congo profits as secret as possible so as not to stir up demands that he pay back sums owed to the Belgian government. To achieve this the Congo state did not publish a budget and it presented understated revenue reports.

Bonds: With time, Leopold was able to issue bonds that brought in as much revenue as rubber. He issued bonds worth 100 million Francs (half a billion in today’s currency). Some were for as long as 99 years and he knew paying back the principal would be someone else’s problems. He even wrote to the Pope, urging the Catholic Church to buy Congo bonds as that would promote the spread of religion.

Use of Funds The money raised with bonds was for development in the Congo but little of it was spent there. The funds went to build monuments, new palace wings, museums including at the seaside resort of Ostend, a golf course at Klemskerke, renovations to a luxurious home at Laeken etc. many of which he gave back to the country with great fanfare. There was also an incomplete World School of Colonialism in Belgium.

Negotiations Out: Once the extent of the atrocities done to the people in the Congo were exposed by authors, organizations and leaders in the UK and US, there was pressure for Leopold to sell. He argued that if Belgium did not take it soon, some powerful country might, such as France and Germany who were jealous of the rubber profits from Congo.

Negotiation began in 1906 but got bogged down as the Belgian Government could not get a full accounting of the state of finances in the Congo, and included some entities that had been incorporated in Belgium, Germany and France.

The End: Finally, it was agreed Leopold would give the Congo up to the Government of Belgium in exchange for them assuming 110 million Francs of debt. This comprised bonds that he had dispensed over the year to his friends and also included 32 million of bonds that he himself never paid back. They also agreed to pay 45 million Francs towards completing building projects of the King, with a third going to complete the one at Laeken. Leopold was also to receive 50 million as gratitude for his sacrifices made to the Congo, and the change of ownership took place in November 1908. After Leopold died, his family and the Belgian government continued to try to clean up issues to do with the Congo and a lot of records of the atrocities of the era were lost.

EDIT Extras

  • Versions of book, including kindle ones, are on Amazon.
  • The last comeprehensive book I read on the country was Michael Wrong’s In the Footstep of Mr. Kurtz about Mobutu Sese Seko and his years as President.

Kenya Eurobond 2018 A to Z (Part II)

Excerpts from reading the prospectus for Kenya’s 2018 Eurobond issues totaling $2 billion (~Kshs 202 billion). 

Advisors:  joint lead managers were Citigroup Global Markets, J.P. Morgan Securities, Standard Bank of South Africa and Standard Chartered Bank. The fiscal/paying agent was Citibank (London), Registrar was Citigroup Global Markets (Deutschland), legal advisors were White & Case LLP and Allen & Overy LLP (English and US law), and Coulson Harney LLP and Kaplan & Stratton Advocates (Kenya Law) and the listing agent was Arthur Cox (Dublin).

Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Securities, Standard Bank of South Africa and Standard Chartered Bank each committed to subscribe for $250 million of the 2028 and $250 million of the 2048 bond issues

Codes: for the 2028 Notes: 491798 AG9 / US491798AG90 / 178426192 XS1781710543 / 178171054 and for the 2048 Notes: 491798 AH7 / US491798AH73 / 178426478 XS1781710626 / 178171062

Debt Rescheduling: Kenya has approached the Paris Club three times to seek debt relief and rescheduling; in January 1994 for $535 million, in November 2000 over $301 million and in January 2004 over $353 million. Also to the London Club 1998 over $70 million and in 2003 over $23 million.

Default (defined as): Failure to pay 15 days after due date, or issuer (Kenya government) ceases to be a member of the IMF.

Denomination: The Notes are issued in registered form in denominations of US$200,000 and integral multiples of US$1,000.

Disclosure: The Issuer will publish all notices and other matters required to be published (regarding Condition 14, 10, 13: on the website of the National Treasury.

Finance Management: Kenya’s law provides that: over the medium term, a minimum of 30% of the national budget shall be allocated to development expenditure and the national government’s expenditure on wages and benefits for its public officers must not exceed 35%  per cent. of total national government revenue and over the medium term, the national government’s borrowings should be used only for the purpose of financing development expenditure and not for recurrent expenditure. .

IMF: The second and third reviews of the IMF programme due in June 2017 and December 2017 could not be completed on time due to the prolonged election period. Accordingly, no funds under the SBA-SCF 2 facility are available to Kenya until it has reached certain targets to the satisfaction of the IMF, which will be assessed at the next review. But, even if the IMF agrees to make this or another programme available upon conclusion of their review, the government intends to continue to treat the arrangements as precautionary and does not intend to draw on the facility unless exogenous shocks lead to an actual balance of payments need.

Income tax (enhancement of): A review of the Income Tax Act is ongoing and is targeted to be completed by mid-2018. In an effort to boost domestic revenue mobilisation, the government is undertaking reforms to bolster revenue yields  including roll out of the integrated customs management system, implementation of the regional electronic cargo tracking (RECTS) to tackle transit diversion; data matching and use of third-party data to enhance compliance, integration of iTax with IFMIS to ensure timely collection of withholding VAT and other withholding taxes; expansion of tax base by targeting the informal sector, betting, lotteries and gaming; pursuit non-filers and increased focus on taxation of international transactions and transfer pricing and enhance investigations and intelligence capacity to support revenue collection.

Informal economy: A significant portion of the Kenyan economy is not recorded and is only partially taxed, resulting in a lack of revenue for the government, ineffective regulation, unreliability of statistical information (including the understatement of GDP and the contribution to GDP of various sectors) and inability to monitor or otherwise regulate a large portion of the economy.

Interest Rates: The yield of the 2028 Notes is 7.25% and the yield of the 2048 Notes is 8.25% in each case on an annual basis. The yields were calculated at the issue date.

Listing: The Eurobond Notes will not be issued, offered or sold in Kenya, and the notes may not be offered or sold in the United States. Applications have been made to the Irish Stock Exchange at a cost of 5,500 euros and the London Stock Exchange for GBP 4,200.

Litigation:  The Issuer has appointed the High Commissioner of the Republic of Kenya in London, presently located at 45 Portland Place, London W1B 1AS as its agent for service of process in relation to any proceedings (“Proceedings”) before the English courts permitted by

Indebtedness:  Total national government debt stood at US$41.2 billion as at 30 June 2017, representing a 17% increase from June 2016. The government is permitted under the terms of the PFMA to incur debt within the limits set by Parliament, currently set at 50% of GDP in net present value terms. Following the issue of the (Eurobond) Notes, the total net present value of debt as a percentage of GDP is expected to nearly reach the 50% limit. Although the government may be restricted from incurring further public debt under such circumstances, the Government will be seeking to refinance or repay near-term maturities, and therefore expects to maintain the ratios within the set limits.

Total multilateral debt increased by 15.8% to stand at US $8.0 billion at 30 June 2016 while total bilateral debt increased to US $5.3 billion at 30 June 2016, mainly driven by a rise in stock of debt from the People’s Republic of China, which increased by 21.2%. Also, as at 30 June 2017, the national government guaranteed approximately KES135.1 billion of the indebtedness of the non-financial public sector include Kshs 77 billion to Kenya Airways last year.

Purpose Kenya expects the net proceeds of the issue of the Eurobond Notes, before expenses, to amount to approximately US$1,999,600,000 which it intends to use for financing development expenditures and to refinance part of its obligations outstanding under certain syndicated loan agreements. According to the “Plan of Distribution”, Kenya syndicated loans of from October 2015 (debt now $646 million) and March 2017 ($1 billion)  and proceed from the new February 2018 issue will be used to pay all of the 2015 loan and part of the 2017 loan and  to “manage the maturity profile of the government’s debt.”

Repayments: (for both issues) payable semi-annually in arrears on 28 February and 28 August in each year commencing on 28 August 2018. The Eurobond Notes are not redeemable prior to maturity.

Withholding Taxes: All payments in respect of the Eurobond Notes by or on behalf of the Issuer shall be made without withholding or deduction of any present or future taxes,

See Part I about the 2014 Eurobond issue. 

1USD  = Kshs 101, 1 GBP = Kshs  139, 1 Euro = Kshs 123

Kenya Eurobond 2018

Kenya’s National Treasury has just announced a new $2 billion Eurobond which was seven times oversubscribed amid concerns about the country’s debt levels and intrigues about the availability of an IMF financing line.

The official Kenya Government statement reads: The fact that we got $14billion in investor appetite reflected the continued support the country receives. We now have a dollar yield curve stretching out to 30 years, making Kenya one of only a handful of government’s in Africa to achieve this. 

The funds are earmarked for development initiatives, liquidity management, and ambitious infrastructure programs. It goes further to add that the Eurobond issue will be listed on the London Stock Exchange and that the joint Mandated arrangers were Citi, J.P. Morgan, Standard Bank, and Standard Chartered Bank.

There was little awareness about the bond, no prospectus was publicly released, and there was no indication on which investors the Eurobond was being pitched to, but it appears that the successful issue will be dated February 28, 2018. 

The Eurobond breakdown is for a mix of two equal halves of 10-year and 30-year bonds, priced at 7.25% and 8.25% respectively.

The announcement comes after some potentially embarrassing news reports that the International Monetary Fund had cut off a line of funding, a statement which was later retracted, and others that Moody’s had downgraded Kenya’s ratings, a claim which the government also disputed.

But the ratings cut, and the mysterious IMF news (and retraction) did not appear to have an impact on the pitch to investors.

This is the second Eurobond after another set of bond issues in 2014.
$1 = Kshs 101.4

Barclays launches the Africa Financial Markets Index 

Barclays launched their first edition of the African Financial Markets Index (AFMI) that ranks and compares the depth of financial markets in seventeen African countries. The countries were score against six broad pillars of (1) Financial markets depth, (2) Access to foreign exchange,  (3) Market transparency & the regulatory environment, (4) Macroeconomic opportunity, (5) Enforceability of agreements and (6) Capacity of local investors.

South Africa came out on top of the AFMI with 92 out of 100. It was classified as a highly developed market but (with a) challenging macroeconomic outlook; It was followed distantly by Mauritius (66), Botswana (65) and Namibia (62).

Kenya was ranked fifth (59), just ahead of Nigeria (53) Ghana (49) and Rwanda (48), and Kenya was found to be the most sophisticated in East Africa due to innovations and reforms by the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and the Capital Markets Authority (CMA).  Kenya’s scores were quite consistent across the six pillars with recent developments including the de-mutualization and the IPO of the NSE, the launch of a first exchange-traded fund by Barclays Kenya, and the launch of the M-Akiba bond.

Kenya is the seventh largest stock exchange by market capitalization and sixth by bond listings. But George Asante, Managing Director and Head of Markets at Barclays Africa said that Kenya lacked deep-pocketed market-makers who could broker deals, and take price risks and also that Kenya needed to develop a primary dealership network. He added that the participation of local investors in long long-term investing was quite limited and local investors are critical as they buffer volatility caused by foreign investors. Assets were concentrated among buy-and-hold investors, rather than pension funds and insurers. Kenya’s domestic institutional investors have $12.6 billion of assets but this only works out to  $173 per capita and he suggested that Kenyan markets and regulators needed come up with more securities listings, instruments, and innovations.

Barclays Bank of Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori said that “The AFMI will be produced annually to drive conversations, track progress and address gaps in financial markets.” Already countries like Rwanda and Morocco want to use the index data to improve their financial markets.  At the tail end of the AFMI was Egypt, Mozambique, Seychelles and Ethiopia. Ethiopia was scored as “a fast-growing economy but with no financial markets depth or local investor capacity.”  

Guests at the launch included Jeffrey Odundo, CEO of the NSE, and Paul Muthaura, CEO of Kenya’s CMA. Muthaura said the CMA had a master plan to make Kenya a choice destination for capital flows by 2023, while Odundo said the NSE has broadened its  revenue and product base (by introducing REIT’s, ETF’s, M-Akiba and next derivatives, and a new law to govern securities lending), and was working to make Kenya more visible. They are active members of the Africa Securities Exchange Association and will host a “Building African Financial Markets” seminar in Nairobi in April 2018. They also plan to join the World Federation of Exchanges.

The AFMI report can be downloaded here from the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum website; OMFIF produced the report with Barclays Africa