Category Archives: NSE investor awareness

Olympia Turnaround? Part III

The Olympia Capital Holdings 2022 shareholders AGM at Nairobi club on Friday, August 26 started with a bit of confusion as the Chairman, Dr. Chris Obura, insisted that shareholders needed to wear masks unless they were speaking. It was attended by about 100 shareholders and was the first physical meeting in three years as the last two had been held virtually. The Chairman said the company had found that hosting virtual AGMs was more costly than physical ones and so the company had decided to try one, even as Covid-19 protocols remain.

The meeting took about an hour with lots of Q&A with shareholders about not having seen the documents they were being asked to approve, such as the annual report and minutes of last year’s online AGM (posted online and which the registrars had emailed) and the lack of a dividend.

Governance: The company has a unique structure with a holding company and subsidiaries and has primarily relocated its business to Botswana. The Managing Director was not at the AGM as the Chairman said that he works full-time in Botswana. This has been the case since the passing of their previous Managing Director Michael Matu in 2020.

Manufacturing Cost: During the Q&A, the Chairman mentioned that, of their Kshs 500 million in sales, 400 million is from Botswana where Olympia now does its floor tiles manufacturing, after halting that in Kenya. He said that the cost of manufacturing was one-third cheaper in Botswana than in Kenya.

Dividend when? Olympia can only pay dividends when its various subsidiaries pay dividends to the parent company – and the one in Botswana was not allowed by law to pay until it had settled a bank debt. But now that the loan was capitalized, a dividend may come to Olympia’s shareholders from profits next year.

Goodies: The Chairman said they had not expected many shareholders to show up and that the venue had only set out a small amount of tea and snacks. Nevertheless, the board agreed on Kshs 500 cash as lunch allowance and each shareholder was paid on the way out of the meeting.

Verdict: Looks like shareholders have a pent-up demand to attend physical AGMs after two years of virtual ones, that were occasioned by Covid-19.

Absa Kenya to pay an interim dividend for 2022

Absa Bank Kenya continued to show strong growth in a complex environment of macroeconomic challenges and high inflation. At the announcement of financial results for the first half of 2022 in Nairobi, Managing Director Jeremy Awori said the institution has transformed into a financial services giant with new offers in bank assurance, wealth management, risk management, research, and asset finance. These are all built around being a digital-first entity with products like Timiza which added 4 million accounts, leading to a five-fold growth in the number of customers they serve.

In the first half of the year, Absa Kenya had its fastest revenue growth in a decade with income growing by 17% to Kshs 20.9 billion and they recorded a pre-tax profit of Kshs 9.1 billion, a 15% increase. Loans were up 19% to Kshs 262 billion and deposits up 7% to Kshs 282 billion, and Absa Kenya assets are now Kshs 445 billion.

Absa Kenya’s Chief Strategy Officer Moses Muthui said that revenue was now growing faster than their peers in the banking industry and their strategy will be to stay relevant to customers by growing opportunities that offer sustainable and inclusive growth. Absa’s cost-to-income ratio is 42%, against a five-year target of 45% and this allows the bank to invest in areas to innovate for customers. As part of their next five-year strategic plan, starting from 2023, they will grow into other new businesses like asset management and consumer payments businesses such as diaspora remittance. They will re-enter the custody business that Barclays exited a decade ago to serve international clients as well expand their investment banking services across East Africa.

To give returns to investors and enhance shareholder value, Absa Bank Kenya will pay a Kshs 0.20 per share dividend, amounting to Kshs 1.09 billion, one of the few institutions that will pay an interim dividend. Already shareholders of the Nairobi-listed bank have one of the highest returns on equity at 23% and dividend yields.

Chase Bank’s Long Tails

Nearly six years after the collapse of Chase Bank, the Capital Markets Authority has come down with harsh penalties on some of its former senior managers, directors and auditors. This is not over the collapse of the bank, but over misleading statements, failure to disclose material information or conflict of interest in the issue of a bond that the bank  floated in May 2015. Its first tranche raised Kshs 4.8 billion, 10 months before ether bank close. The bond’s Information Memorandum (IM) indicated that the funds raised would be used for branch expansion, IT investments, and new products. 

Penalties Levied:

  • Kshs 10 million against Deloitte, the reporting accountant for the bond note program and its partners will be reported to ICPAK.
  • Kshs 5 million fines each against Duncan Kabui, the former Group Managing Director,  Paul Njaga the former CEO and Ken Obimbo the former Group Finance Director. In addition, Kabui is debarred from being a director or partner in an issuer on the Kenyan capital markets for 10 years, while Obimbo is debarred similarly for 5 years.  
  • Kshs 2.5 million each against the former members of the Audit & Risk Committee – Laurent Demey, Muthoni Kuria and Rafiq Sharrif. The fine also was levied against Anthony Gross, who was Chairman of the Committee and who was ordered to attend corporate governance training.
  • Kshs 1 million, a smaller fine, against Richard Carter, a former director of Chase.  

 The Business Daily (BD) had reported on some findings that the CMA had made unearthed at Chase when it went reviewed its IT systems and which the CMA felt that Deloitte should have flagged such as a Kshs 14 billion hole at Chase, an IT override switch, and a Kshs 1 billion bonus paid to Chase’s former Chairman Zafrullah Khan that was later shared with other directors and executives.  The fines are against 9 of 12 people targeted, and who appeared before an ad hoc committee put together by the CMA but 3 others went to court and halted the CMA probe proceedings against them – and the BD has identified them as Khan, former Finance GM Makarios Agumbi and former Corporate Assets Manager James Mwaura.

In another matter, a judge has ordered SBM Bank which took over the assets of Chase Bank to compensate AfrAsia Bank of Mauritius for a $7.5 million deposit that they had placed at Chase just before the bank was closed in April 2015. The judge said that due process was not followed in notifying depositors about the transfer of the bank assets from Chase to SBM and found that SBM, not the Kenya Deposit Insurance Corporation, is where AfrAsia should have pursued their claims. Will this open the door to other aggrieved depositors in collapsed banks like Chase, Dubai, and Imperial? – Read more in the Business Daily.  

Related:

  • Earlier updates in the Chase and Imperial bank cases 
  • Past CMA actions on company directors on governance matters. 

Kenya Tax Changes in 2022

A few weeks before Kenya’s August 2022 general election, Parliament is to debate and pass the Finance Bill which was published in April. Some measures it proposed will become effective in July 2022 and others in January 2023.

The tax proposals are to meet the country’s 2002/23 budget with a planned expenditure of Kshs 3.4 trillion which includes Kshs 2.14 trillion of ordinary revenue. The Finance Bill will need to be passed along with the Budget Estimates, Appropriations Bill and County Allocation of Revenue Bill. A recurring concern with investing in Kenya is the ever-evolving tax code that changes from year to year, adding, taking away or adjusting taxes and deductions.

Local tax advisory firms such as PWC, KPMG, and Deloitte have published summaries and interpretations of some of the tax proposals,

Excerpts

Agriculture: Removal of an exemption of clearing or planting on agricultural land.

Digital Economy: The digital service tax doubles from 1.5% to 3%. What impact will that have on e-commerce in Kenya?

Energy: Briquettes using sustainable fuel are exempted from VAT

Financial Markets Capital gains tax (CGT) goes up from 5% to 15%. Also, gains by foreign investors trading in derivatives will attract a withholding tax of 15%.

Foods: Excise duty of 15% on imported potatoes, excise duty goes up slightly on fruit juices, beer, other alcohol, wines, imported sugar, and white chocolate. Also, excise tax is added on electronic cigarettes, ice cream not containing cocoa, and liquid nicotine.

Local medicine manufacturing: in the recovery from covid-19, plants aiming to manufacture pharmaceutical products will be exempt from paying import declaration fee (3.5%) and railway development levy (2%). Also while a 25% excise duty on imported glass is imposed, it excludes those for pharmaceuticals.

Media: 15% excise tax added on advertisements by betting firms and alcohol companies.

NGOs: Trusts must now use taxpayer PINs to transact.

Sports Betting: Excise duty goes up from 7.5% to 20%.

Big Stick Enforcement: To appeal against a tax claim, someone must deposit 50% of the amount upfront in a special account at the CBK. Also, ships, planes, and motor vehicles can have a payment claim registered against their ownership by KRA, in case their owners have not paid other taxes. The law currently only applies to land & buildings. Also, multinationals with a turnover of Kshs 95 billion ($750 million) will be required to file Kenya-specific reports within a year of their financial year-ends.

Also, see a KPMG analysis in 2021.

Kenya 2022 Investment Outlook from EFG Hermes

Managers at Kenya’s largest stockbroker, EFG Hermes, held a media briefing on the state of investing in Kenya in 2022. This is at a time that the Democratic Republic of Congo is about to join the East African Community, potentially doubling its market size from over 100 million to 200 million and making the region more attractive to investors due to the regional transports links.

EFG Hermes Head of Frontier Market Research, Kato Mukuru said Nairobi is now the capital of East Africa and that local banks have become regional champions such as Equity which is now the largest bank in the DRC. The next step should be a common currency in East Africa but he lamented that different African governments were unnecessarily chasing digital currency (CBDC) projects. 

EFG Hermes Kenya which has a 30% share of Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) trading activity, largely from institutional investors has now invested in wooing retail investors through an app they launched last August. The NSE has had shrinking liquidity, and the value of stock trades that used to be $8-10 million per day, is now at $2-3 million per day – and if liquidity can be pushed back up, other new products on NSE such as derivatives and day-trading will become more viable.

Excerpts

  • Overall EFG researchers think Kenya is on right track despite concerns about its debt, inflation and currency, the agriculture sector should keep the Kenyan shilling stable and compensate for increased energy prices – and they don’t expect currency depreciations movements like seen in Egypt and Pakistan.  
  • The government needs to have a privatization agenda to boost the NSE. Safaricom was listed at the end of post-election violence in 2008 when Kenya was at its lowest and that produced one of the most valuable companies in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • East Africa needs to create more formal jobs. Kenya has 5M formal jobs for a population of 50M while Vietnam has almost 50% formal employment. It may take the government to initiate a more planned economy system that targets creating real formal employment that goes beyond agriculture as it can’t rely on informal jobs forever.
  • Tanzania’s late President Magufuli has shown that a country can transform within one administration. 
  • The way out of food inflation caused by the Russian war in Ukraine is by sourcing foods from other parts of East Africa e.g. start to eat matoke. The region is very resilient and will not be shocked as much as Egypt which is dependent on wheat imports from those states. The East African region is largely self-sufficient in food supply and Kenya, which may have droughts, could import other foods from Tanzania, Uganda or Rwanda. 
  • DRC is very attractive in terms of its resources and the EAC would be further boosted if Ethiopia also joined. Kenya has strong links through the Nairobi-Addis highway and LAPSSET projects in which Ethiopia has been invited to participate.
  • With its balance sheet, Safaricom has the capacity to take on debt for their Ethiopia venture. They borrowed $400 million locally for the license and they can syndicate that, or draw on vendors or DFI’s, to fund more while continuing to pay dividends to shareholders.