May 13th, 2015 by Tom Minney
Botswana supermarket chain Choppies Enterprises Limited has launched a roadshow this week to raise $48 million and dual-list on the main board of the JSE Ltd on 27 May. It is offering to sell 117.4m new shares and 160m shares from existing investors.
Choppies was founded in 1986 and now operates 125 stores in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe and employs over 11,000 people. It hopes to expand in Tanzania and Zambia, while Kenya and Namibia have also come up in reports.
The listing will be a secondary inward listing, so far only a few African companies have taken advantage of this opportunity offered by the JSE. The share price will be finalized after a roadshow which began on 11 May and a book-build run by Rand Merchant Bank. The offer should raise about R574m based on the current share price on the Botswana Stock Exchange.
Choppies store (credit Chronicle, Zimbabwe)
Mr. Ramachandran Ottapathu, Group CEO said in a press release: “This is a really exciting moment in the life of the company. The listing on the JSE gives us further impetus for our ambitious growth plans. We are on track to have over 200 stores by the end of next year and we will be opening our first stores in Zambia and Tanzania by mid-2015. Choppies is a strong cash-generating business that has traditionally supported our organic growth of new store openings. The listing will allow us to fast-track the continued roll-out of new stores, unlock opportunities in new markets and fund acquisitions where opportunities arise.” Full details of the offer are available at their investor portal.
Media coverage on Reuters, Bloomberg and Business Day highlights the growth but adds that South African retailers Shoprite and Spar Group are also going after middle-income consumers in African markets. Bloomberg says it trades at 24x estimated earnings, compared to 21.4x for Shoprite and quotes Sasfin senior equity analyst Alec Abraham: “If Choppies can raise money at this price-to-earnings ratio, good for them. But it’s a very competitive space and companies are having to really invest to keep their market share.”
According to the company, Choppies has seen superior growth over recent years with a compound annual growth rate of 27% in total revenues from BWP2.4 billion for the year to 30 June 2011 to BWP5.0bn for the year to June 2014. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) have grown at a CAGR of 19% to BWP352m in 2014, from BWP207m in 2011.
Mr. Ottapathu said: “We continue to establish ourselves in areas where we see great potential with the transition to branded convenience. We have the benefit of many years of experience identifying the right places to start up new stores for our target market. Our differentiated approach of partnering with local operators and sourcing from local suppliers provides us many advantages as we expand into new markets”.
Choppies locates its stores near taxi ranks and bus routes and is not in large shopping centres, Ottapathu told Bloomberg it has not experienced “significant pressure” on sales in South Africa. “We see growth opportunities in the current markets in which we operate and the retail penetration of the markets we are going into is low,” he said.
May 11th, 2015 by Tom Minney
The central depositories of Kenya and Nigeria, two of the most dynamic in Africa, have formed a joint venture with Altree Financial Group. The African Development provided $400,000 in seed equity capital to the new Africlear Global venture, which aims to boost the efficiency of African capital markets by supporting modernizing the infrastructure of the central securities depositories.
The partners are Kenya’s Central Depository and Settlement Corporation (CDSC), Nigeria’s Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) and Altree. However, several more African central depositories are interested in joining.
Africlear will help the depositories to pool their resources and boost buying power on equipment. They will work together to identify, acquire and maintain critical systems and technology, for instance for corporate actions, recording shareholder votes and other investor support services. The depositories will also share information and expertise.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) invested $400,000 in seed capital through the Fund for Africa Private Sector Assistance in an agreement signed 5 March in Abidjan. This may inspire more investors to join in building the company.
Africlear will use the money to improve the infrastructure used for post-trading processes such as settlements after a sale is done. According to AfDB press release: “The goal of the investment is to enhance the efficiency of capital markets by supporting the modernisation of central securities depository infrastructure in African securities markets.” Solomon Asamoah, AfDB Vice-President, Infrastructure, Private Sector and Regional Integration, and Anthony Fischli, Director, Africlear Global, signed the Shareholder and Subscription agreements on behalf of the Bank and Africlear Global, respectively.
Rose Mambo, CEO of CDSC, is the chairperson of Africlear. She was reported in Standard news in Kenya saying: “Africlear members will be able to realise significant cost savings via collective bargaining with industry participants and technology vendors. Africlear will also allow its members to offer more services ranging from corporate actions processing and collateral management to clearing and settlement.”
Kyari Bukar of CSCS said Africlear will accelerate process standardization and promote system integration across the borders. “By employing industry best practices, Africlear will facilitate improved levels of transparency and corporate governance within the African capital markets. This will enable local market practitioners to effectively compete for domestic and international capital.”
The board of Africlear held its first meeting in Nairobi on 24 April 2015. The members also include Altree Financial Group chairman Anthony Fischli and a representative from the AfDB to be named. Fischli said: “Africlear supports an open marketplace where scale and connectivity serve as the company’s competitive strengths” Benefits for investors should include improved access to securities services, collaboration between countries and cost-effective pricing of infrastructure.
Fischli told AfricanCapitalMarketsNews on 11 May that Africlear could also help the different countries’ and exchanges’ central depositories in future if they want to establish links. Fischli said in a press release “The AfDB investment in Africlear Global supports the improvement of securities market infrastructure through promotion of industry-leading technologies designed to enhance the underlying efficiency and overall functioning of the African capital markets.”
Kenya’s Business Daily reports that CDSC expects to gain revenue from its investment in Africlear by being able to charge for corporate actions such as reconciling investors on share splits, dividend declaration and payments. Revenues are particularly expected from international investors who mostly make the bulk of the traders on the Nairobi Securities Exchange.
Central Depository and Settlement Corporation (CDSC) Kenya is approved by the Capital Markets Authority of Kenya as provider of clearing and settlement services to the Kenyan capital markets. Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Nigeria is licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Nigeria and serves as the clearing and settlement house for the Nigerian capital markets and The Nigerian Stock Exchange. Altree Financial Group is an integrated financial-services company licensed to conduct Investment Business by the Bermuda Monetary Authority.
The AfDB’s FAPA fund is a multi-donor thematic trust fund that provides grant funding for capacity building, seed capital and advisory services to support implementation of the Bank’s Private Sector Development Strategy. AfDB and the Governments of Japan and Austria have contributed to the fund, which to date has provided over $60m to 56 projects in 38 countries across Africa. The portfolio includes regional and national projects aimed at improving the business environment, strengthening financial systems, building private-sector infrastructure, promotion of trade and development of micro, small and medium enterprises
COMMENT – African nations seem keen on having national exchanges and central depositories under domestic regulation. However, they are working hard on harmonizing regulations, including to global standards, particularly within regional associations of regulators.
Africa is also looking for ways to increase links between the exchanges, eventually pushing to the point where a broker in one country can route orders to other exchanges, meaning that investors all over Africa have access to different exchanges, boosting liquidity and achieving more cross-border communications, trading, cross listings and remote memberships.
Africlear can be a key part of this. Getting post-trade “plumbing” for payments, clearing and settlement is key to ensuring African exchanges. Africlear is set to be an important step forward.
May 6th, 2015 by Tom Minney
Payments and securities transactions are growing faster in Africa than in any other part of the world, according to data from financial messaging institution SWIFT. Traffic volumes of payments information in Africa grew by 13.2% for the year to date compared to the same period in 2014, surpassing Asia Pacific (Apac) at 12.6%; the Americas at 12.1%; and for the “EMEA” region which includes Europe, the Middle East and Africa at 6.9%, or 8.8% growth for SWIFT worldwide.
Traffic between African countries has also been booming, good news for those who believe that Africa should focus on building competitive links and bringing the securities markets together.
SWIFT is a member-owned cooperative that connects more than 10,000 financial institutions and corporations in 212 countries and territories and provides a communications platform, products and services. Its SWIFT Index is seen to anticipate economic (GDP) growth in advanced countries, because the SWIFT infrastructure is so widespread that it picks up on increased levels of activity, particularly on commercial payments and transactions messages (MT103) on its systems.
Here are some examples of stand-out growth in SWIFT traffic in different countries (%age growth year-to-date compared to same period last year):
• Angola – payments traffic grew more than 78%
• Ghana – payments traffic rose by almost 30% and securities by almost 55%. Ghana has seen average growth of 27.2% since 2013
• Kenya – payment message traffic rose by 23.1%, while securities-related growth was 122.3%
• Nigeria – average yearly growth of 29.1% in traffic since 2013
• Tanzania – payments rose by 32.9% and securities by 45%
• Uganda – payments were up by 17.5% and securities by 31.6%.
The growth has been sustained for several years. Africa’s total SWIFT traffic rose by 44% over the last 3 years, of which payments rose 42% and securities information was up 37% across Africa.
For the first quarter of 2015, traffic from South Africa was 53% of traffic in Africa, compared to 72% in 2003.
Christian Sarafidis, Deputy Chief Executive EMEA, SWIFT, highlighted the value of SWIFT data in the story it tells about African economies: “The figures show strong organic growth across Africa and in East Africa particularly, and serve as validation of the positive growth trends we are witnessing in the region.”
Hugo Smit, Head of Sub-Sahara Africa, SWIFT, says: “Africa is an important market for SWIFT. Once again it has outperformed most of our other regions and has proven itself a critical component of our global business. Because the continent has such huge growth potential, we are continuing to invest more resources to support the local financial community. It is very heartening to see such impressive growth in West and East Africa, where we are currently opening new SWIFT offices.”
African corridors are becoming stronger. For the full year 2014, SWIFT data shows that 52% of the traffic sent from Africa stayed within the African zone, up by 16% on the year before and the highest growth rate for intra-African traffic. The trend was even more pronounced in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, where 55% of traffic sent from SADC stays in SADC, and the region is recording record growth, up 16.2% for the full year 2014 compared to 2013.
African financial innovators
SWIFT’s African Regional Conference (ARC) 2015 is happening this week (5-7 May) in Cape Town. One highlight is bringing Innotribe’s fintech Startup Challenge to Africa. The Startup Challenge introduces the world’s brightest start-up businesses to highly qualified financial service experts, angel investors, venture capitalists, and global leading fintech and financial decision makers. Innotribe is SWIFT’s financial technology innovation initiative and in the 2015 challenge, SWIFT Innotribe will have a round dedicated to fintech companies from across Africa, who will come to Cape Town in order to pitch to investors.
About SWIFT and the index
SWIFT is the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. It was founded in 1973 and still has its headquarters in Belgium. The SWIFT index is based on data on SWIFT MT 103 messages, a specific format that enables the bilateral transfer of information about payment transactions between customers of different banks or financial institutions. SWIFT says it is “the de facto global standard for cross-border single customer credit transfers and is used primarily for commercial rather than low-value retail payments”.
Wikipedia gives a run-down of the different SWIFT message types.
SWIFT operating centre (Source: SWIFT)
May 4th, 2015 by Tom Minney
($ refers to USD)
The value of shares traded on the recently demutualized Zimbabwe Stock Exchange fell by 22.2% in the first quarter of 2015, compared to the same quarter last year. A story from The Herald newspaper said that turnover to 31 March was $70 million, down from $90 million in the first quarter of 2014. However, the volume of shares traded was up to 586 million from last year’s 306 million for the period.
Trading in January was $16m (down from $63m in 2014), in February $35m ($26m) and in March $19m ($27m). The share bought by foreigners was down to $41m ($64m) over the quarter.
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange liquidity to 30 April (source ZSE website)
Meanwhile the exchange seems to be hit by a series of controversies and several companies have delisted, or removed their shares from trading.
The exchange in March was reported in the Herald newspaper that “go-live” date would be 19 June for its new automated trading system, Capizar ATS trading software from Infotech Middle East FZ, part of Infotech Group of Pakistan. This was in terms of a contract signed in March 2014, as reported here last September. However there has been little news of progress and the project missed previous deadlines, including for February.
There has also been criticism of the ZSE’s relocation to Ballantyne Park, a suburb 8.5km from the central business district effective 1 April before the automated trading system was ready. The new office has a smaller trading area. The Herald newspaper reported that parliamentarians and lobby groups had protested and Chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance David Chapfika said that relocating the exchange to Ballantyne Park will mean that small players will be excluded. ZSE interim chairperson Mrs Eve Gadzikwa said the move was necessary because of high rentals.
SECZ investigates ZSE CEO
In February the Herald newspaper reported that the Securities and Exchanges Commission of Zimbabwe (SECZ) was investigating ZSE CEO Alban Chirume after complaints over the suspension of Meikles (see below). He is said to have acted unprocedurally when he suspended Meikles and then unprofessionally when the decision was reversed. There were also complaints after he placed a notice in a newspaper urging investors to exercise caution when dealing with the shares.
If SECZ finds against him, he could be suspended or fired, according to the Herald report. Past CEO Emmanuel Munyukwi, who had been in post for many years, was suspended after an SECZ investigation and subsequently left the ZSE “on mutual agreement”.
According to the Herald: “Away from the Meikles issue, Mr Chirume has faced criticism over the purchase of a residential building in Ballantyne Park, the overshooting of the budget in the purchase of a vehicle and the numerous instances he has undermined the ZSE board and stockbrokers.”
An amendment in 2013 to Zimbabwe’s Securities Act gives the SECZ the power to dissolve the board of a registered securities exchange or dismiss one or more of its members, but only on certain grounds, and subject to appeal. If it dissolves a whole board it can appoint someone to run the exchange but only until a new board is elected in accordance with the articles of association, which should be within 3 months.
Paint and chemical products manufacturer, Astra Industries, was the latest to leave at the close of business on 30 April after majority shareholders Kansai Plascon Africa (listed in Tokyo) and Hermistar investment vehicle for Astra management and staff increased their combined holding to 80.2%, breaching the rule of 30% free float, and applied to the ZSE to leave. Regional manufacturer ART Corporation may follow after buying out minorities.
Other recent delistings include TA Holdings and ABC Holdings in February. According to an article in Financial Gazette, 16 companies have delisted since 2007 when the hard currency (USD) economy was adopted – 8 of these chose to delist, and 8 were insolvent. Such is the turmoil in the Zimbabwe economy that many other companies are probably insolvent but it has not been announced yet as local manufacturers with high hard-currency costs and ancient machines cannot compete with imported goods. Meanwhile, another 4 companies are suspended: PG Industries, Cottco (formerly AICO Holdings), Phoenix and Celsy.
The article warns that more delistings are due this year, including Meikles (see below), Dawn Properties, African Sun. It says that companies do not see the benefit in being listed (see bottom of article). They cannot raise money successfully on the bourse due to the liquidity squeeze and shares being listed at a small fraction of their true value, unless money comes from foreign investors, who usually prefer to buy out minorities and delist. The peak had been over 80 listings.
The only new listing was in 2010 when Innscor Africa’s unbundled Padenga Securities and listed it through dividend in specie. The ZSE did particularly better than most parts of the economy during the years of hyperinflation as desperate investors turned to properties, equities or foreign currencies. It slowed dramatically after allowing trading in foreign currencies.
Creating a second-tier exchange for small companies is unlikely to have an overall positive effect on liquidity or the market.
A leading hotel group, Meikles Limited, is suing the ZSE for $50m in damages and is also warning that it may not remain listed. According to a Reuters report in March, Meikles filed papers on 26 February at the High Court, after its shares were suspended from trading for a week in February and then allowed again from 23 February. Meikles said its share price had fallen and its reputation suffered and it is seeking compensation for “potentially irreparable” consequences of its suspension. The ZSE also issued a warning that people should use caution when trading the shares.
Meikles also operates retail including supermarket chain TM Supermarkets (South Africa’s Pick’n’Pay has 49%), Tanganda Tea, the Victoria Falls Hotel and has a stake in Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town.
Meanwhile ZSE governance could change dramatically after the demutualization was completed recently, as reported last week. Some market participants were said to be surprised when stockbrokers ended up with a 68% majority of the company, after Government took 32%. There had been some suggestions of ownership wrangles.
This could mean that stockbrokers can hold a General Meeting and replace directors or otherwise take action on how the company is managed.
Why the stockmarket does not help business
(quoted from Financial Gazette)
Horticultural concern, Interfresh, which delisted on the last day of trading in 2013, highlighted the problems with being listed.
Chief executive officer, Lishon Chipango, said: “At the moment for us there is not too much (gains from listing). If you look at the contextual framework of the stock market, one of the benefits of being listed is to raise capital, but if you raise capital when the shares are so depressed, you are not going to raise that much. So the issue of benefiting if listed maybe down the road. (I) would not be surprised if others followed (us by delisting).
“The other aspect is there is no money in Zimbabwe. All the capital being raised is external. For us, it is not attractive,” Chipango said.
He then mourned over the discounted rate at which the company’s shares were trading.
“The rights issue to raise the US three million dollars (in 2012) caused a dilution of 75 percent because we used stock market valuations. Now if at that time we had raised money using Net Asset Value instead of stock market valuation, the dilution would have been 15 percent. You see why we are running away from the stock market? We are running away from the stock market valuation,” said Chipango.
May 4th, 2015 by Tom Minney
Chengetedzai Depository Company Ltd, Zimbabwe’s central securities depository (CSD), was reported that the last securities had been brought on board in March 2015, according to a report in Zimbabwe Mail. Old Mutual announced that its shares were also dematerialized with effect from 30 March.
CDCL announced last year that it had received due approvals to start operations and it went live in September 2014 with 3 securities onboard, and had extended that to 43 counters by January 2015.
CDCL had been publishing announcements as new shares are brought on board, and latest additions were Mashonaland Holdings, Old Mutual, Dawn Properties and others. There are some delays in the automation of Zimbabwe Stock Exchange trading system which is supposed to link to the CSD.
A CSD keeps a computerized register of securities ownership and also registers transfers after shares have been bought, sold or otherwise transferred. It replaces paper share certificates for most shareholders, in a process known as “dematerialization”. It links to systems for payment and clearance of trades.
The previous system saw clearing and settlement done between the stockbrokers on a T+7 schedule, Chengetedzai says it reduces settlement this to T+5.
Apparently local retail customers initially found it hard to understand that they must address settlement queries to a custodian, not to their stockbrokers as previously. Campbell Musiwa, Chengetedzai Depository Company chief executive said that CBZ Custodial Services had been set up as an “affordable” custodian for retail customers.
NewsDay reported in January that investors and stockbrokers were still breaking regulations by selling shares before dematerialization is complete. It added that only 1,557 accounts had been opened at Chengetedzai, of which 61% are for foreigners who work through global custodians (usually banks) who then relate to local custodians. Chengetedzai has been criticized for not doing enough to educate local shareholders to switch although it has worked with media and produced pamphlets.
Musiwa said there had been some delays in trade settlements if investors had traded before meeting the requirements but also: “There has been a marked improvement which resulted from continuous lobbying with market players to observe the rules,” he said
In April 2014 Chengetedzai Depository Company Ltd was reported by Standard Newspaper saying it was still waiting for licensing and for the award of a CSD levy by SECZ. Chengetedzai Depository Company won the tender to introduce the CSD in 2009 as reported on AfricanCapitalMarketsNews. After a shareholding dispute, it installed core software for operations that were planned for September 2013 but was held up while waiting for the licence.
In 2013, Chengetedzai raised nearly $2.5m through share issues, according to its annual report, including a successful $1.5m rights issue to finance the roll out of the CSD. The ZSE has invested $643,000 including $287,000 in the rights issue, according to its 2013 annual report, and holds a 15% stake after scaling up from 12.93% in January 2014. Chengetedzai’s 2013 annual report says that “quasi-government financial institutions” owned 56% and private investors 44%. Main shareholders were Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe, First Transfer Secretaries and ZB Financial Holdings with 15% each and the National Social Security Authority with 13% at 31 Dec 2013.
The software is Depo/X system supplied by CMA Small Systems ab of Sweden.
May 1st, 2015 by Tom Minney
Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Private Equity Africa Awards! These celebrate the achievements of Africa’s top General Partners (GPs) and advisors in 2014. The awards are in their 4th year and were handed out at a gala dinner at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on 29 April.
Outstanding leadership award: Runa Alam, Chief Executive Officer, Development Partners International
This accolade is awarded based on voting by leading industry investors.
House of the year
Sub-Saharan House of the Year: Carlyle Africa
Award collected by Marlon Chigwende, Managing Director and head of Africa team at Carlyle.
Special recognition: General Partners
North Africa Investor: Abraaj
Award collected by Lloyd West, Director at Abraaj.
Fundraiser of the Year: Carlyle
Award collected by Marlon Chigwende, Managing Director and head of the Africa team at Carlyle.
Outstanding First-Time GP: Amethis Finance
Award collected by Luc Rigouzzo, Managing Director at Amethis.
Outstanding South Africa Exits: Capitalworks
Award collected by Chad Smart, Partner at Capitalworks.
Frontier Investor: XSML
Award collected by Marcel Posthuma, Managing Partner at XSML.
Exit of the year:
Mansard Insurance by Development Partners International & AfricInvest
Award collected by Idris Mohammed, Partner at Development Partners International, and Hakim Khelifa, Senior Partner and Co-Head of Sub-Saharan Africa at AfricInvest.
Deal of the year
Large-cap deal of the year: Helios Towers Africa by Helios
Award collected by Henry Obi, Partner at Helios.
Mid-cap deal of the year: J&J Africa by Carlyle
Award collected by Marlon Chigwende, Managing Director and head of the Africa team at Carlyle.
Small-cap deal of the year: Moablaou by Databank
Award collected by Brian Frimpong, Managing Partner at Databank.
Portfolio company of the year
Development impact: Emerging Capital Partners & Investec Asset Management for IHS
Award collected by Hurley Doddy co-CEO at ECP, and Mark Jennings, Investment Principal at Investec Asset Management.
Innovation: Helios for Interswitch
Award collected by Pierre Heinrichs, Principal at Helios.
Improvement & social impact: Adenia Partners for Newpack
Award collected by Antoine Delaporte Managing Director at Adenia Partners.
Special recognition: deals & exits
The event also recognized investors and advisors that had delivered exceptional transactions during 2014 that do not fall into the main award categories.
Landmark deal: IHS by Emerging Capital Partners
Award collected by Hurley Doddy, co-CEO at Emerging Capital Partners.
Small-cap exit: African Frontier Capital for Electro-MaxxUganda
Award collected by Roland Tatnall, Managing Partner at African Frontier Capital Partners.
Debt deal: TLG Capital for GetBucks
Award collected by Dominic Clive, Principal at TLG Capital.
Frontier deal – Côte d’Ivoire: Cauris Management for Cipharm
Award collected by Jean-Marc Savi de Tové, Partner at Cauris.
Advisors of the year
Overall legal advisor: Clifford Chance
Award collected by Spencer Baylin, Partner at Clifford Chance.
Funds legal advisor: Webber Wentzel
Award collected by Markjan van Schaardenburgh, Partner at Webber Wentzel.
Deals legal advisor: Clifford Chance
Award collected by Spencer Baylin, Partner at Clifford Chance.
Fund administration: Trident Fund Services
Award collected by Karine Seguin, Business Development Director at Trident, and Rajan Rosick, Head of New Business at Trident.
Corporate finance advisor: Intercontinental Trust
Award collected by Noelle McKean, Senior Vice President at Intercontinental Trust.
Single-deal advisor:: Dentons for IHS
Award collected by Nicholas Plant, Partner and Head of Private Equity, UK and Africa, at Dentons.
The final award winners were selected by an independent panel of judges:
• Alex Wolf, Vice President, HarbourVest Partners
• Arjette van den Berg, Independent Private Equity Advisor
• Arnaud de Cremiers, Partner, Adam Street Partners
• Charles Rose, Chairman, Hainsford
• Dushy Sivanithy, Principal, Pantheon Ventures
• Hervé Schricke, Chairman, Xange/AFIC Africa
• Jean-Luc Koffi Vovor, Founder, Kusuntu
• Matthew Craig-Greene, Founder, Craig-Greene & Co
• Michelle Essomé, Chief Executive Officer, AVCA
• Rory Ord, Head of RisCura Fundamentals, RisCura
• Vivina Berla, Senior Partner, Sarona Asset Management
Mark Artivor, Independent Private Equity Advisor
Thomas Ferede, Independent Private Equity Advisor
April 29th, 2015 by Tom Minney
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange completed its demutualization last month (March) and is now a fully fledged private company. It plans to issue up to 50% of its shares to new shareholders, according to reports.
Company registration was completed earlier in the month and Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa issued share certificates at a ceremony on 26 March. According to a report by Xinhua news, the Minister said demutualization transformed the bourse from a statutory body into a viable public company: “The main crux of demutualization is separating ownership of the exchange from management in line with internationally accepted code of corporate governance. The process will see the exchange being transformed from its current not for profit status to a profit making organization.” Demutualization progress is not mentioned on the ZSE website.
Previous trading floor at the Zimbabwe SE (photo from www.4vf.net)
The shareholding is now 32% Government and 68% stockbrokers, split equally among the holders of proprietary rights. According to an earlier report
in The Herald
, ZSE has 48 stockbroker members.
A planned future step is to raise new capital so that the exchange would ultimately be owned 16% by Government, 34% by stockbrokers and 50% by new shareholders.
Demutualization is the process through which an exchange converts from a non-profit mutual association, often a company limited by guarantee, into a for-profit company which follows the usual structure of shareholder ownership. It is meant to result in separation of trading rights, ownership and management. The shareholders are expected to convene a meeting to appoint a board of directors. In terms of usual corporate governance, the ZSE CEO would report to the Board of Directors in terms of performance and meeting objectives. The exchange can also list on its own trading boards and become a public company.
According to The Herald
, corporatization is also needed for the ZSE to register as a stock exchange with the Securities and Exchange Commission, as required by the Securities and Exchanges Act.
The demutualization process began last year and in July 2014 a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and the Stockbrokers, according to a notice
issued last year by SECZim.
Market capitalization was $4.07 billion with 59 companies listed and 37 trades during the course of yesterday (28 April).
History since 1896
The first stock exchange in Zimbabwe opened in Bulawayo in 1896 but only lasted 6 years and other exchanges were set up in Gweru and Mutare, according to the ZSE website. Dealing started again in a new exchange in Bulawayo in 1946 and a second floor was opened in Harare (then Salisbury) in 1951. The ZSE was formed as mutual society by a group of stockbrokers who put capital in return for shares of the exchange (proprietary rights). The exchange was funded through the issue of these proprietary rights. SECZim added last year “and over time non-member institutions also funded the exchange, including the Government which also contributed indirectly by way of corporate tax exemptions”.
The present exchange was created in terms of the ZSE Act which was passed in January 1974, although trading was not interrupted and the change was legal only. A Securities Act of 2004 replaced the ZSE Act and became operational in September 2008. The Securities Commission of Zimbabwe became operational in October 2008 and is regulator, governed by commissioners appointed by the Minister of Finance.
According to the SEC: “The major benefit of demutualization is that it leads to the separation of the ownership, trading rights and management of ZSE, which eliminates the conflict of interest between exchange and broker members. If successfully implemented, demutualization should indeed lead to sustainable governance of the exchange premised on transparent, independent and efficient decision making for the benefit of all stakeholders, particularly investors.”
April 29th, 2015 by Tom Minney
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (www.zimbabwe-stock-exchange.com) moved to its new premises 44 Ridgeway North Highlands, Harare on 1 April. It owns its new office, which is near Borrowdale Race Course and some 8.5km from its previous rented city-centre office which was at 4th Floor, 101 Union Avenue Building, Kwame Nkrumah Avenue,
It kept a minimum staff at the old office until 30 April. In a notice on 24 March 2015, the exchange said there would be no interruption in terms of the services offered. The exchange has new telephone numbers: +263-4-886830-8.
How did the move affect participants in the market? Please add your observations below.
April 8th, 2015 by Tom Minney
Commodity exchange trading floors have failed in in Zambia, Uganda, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. However, this has not deterred donors, according to a recent article on Bloomberg, and at least 8 commodity exchanges started in sub-Saharan Africa over the past 20 years with the aim of improving food security for local populations.
Exchanges are a distraction from other initiatives that would better serve poor farmers, Nicholas Sitko, a Michigan State University agricultural economist who’s based in Zambia, where a commodity exchange closed in 2012, is reported as saying: “We’ve learned that no amount of money pumped into them and no amount of government effort to get them off the ground can force them to work,” he says.
Why were donors attracted to commodity exchanges, which analysts said suffered from the same flaw: a top-down approach that’s better at attracting foreign aid than at improving farming practices and developing transportation and communications networks. Donors like exchanges because they look like institutions in their own countries, says Peter Robbins, a former commodities trader in London who’s studied African exchanges. And “African leaders like to show off trading floors to show how modern their countries have become,” he says.
Even the famous Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, started in 2008 with the help of foreign donors including US and United Nations to improve food distribution in a country where millions often went hungry, has not proved as effective as desired. This is despite strong Government backing, including decrees that almost all buying and selling of coffee, sesame seeds, and navy beans for export must take place on the exchange.
According to Bloomberg: “With its buyers and sellers in coloured jackets and open-outcry trading floor displaying real-time market data from around the world, the ECX has been a prime example of what an exchange can and can’t do. The government ordered export coffee trading onto the exchange shortly after it opened, hoping it would jump-start activity and help attract other business. That didn’t work: Small amounts of corn and wheat are traded, but coffee and sesame seeds account for about 90% of exchange volume.
“Eleni Gabre-Madhin, who founded the ECX and served as its first director, says one obstacle for the exchange was that the state didn’t build enough warehouses to store bulky items such as cereals.” ECX Chief Executive Officer Ermias Eshetu said ECX will re-strategize from the bottom up in the Government’s next 5-year Growth and Transformation Plan II starting in July so that it can handle staple foods and is now allowed to license private warehouse operators to expand storage capacity.
Fekade Mamo, general manager of Mochaland Import and Export and a former ECX board member, was reported saying that Ethiopia’s fragmented, barter-based agricultural economy would have to modernize before it can benefit from a Western-style commodity exchange, according to: “The objective was to bring about an equitable food supply system.. That has completely failed.”
On the positive side, founder Eleni says farmers who use the exchange have seen benefits: Posting prices publicly has boosted their income, and centralized trading means buyers don’t default on contracts. Gary Robbins (no relation to Peter), chief of the economic growth and transformation office at the U.S. Agency for International Development in Addis Ababa, says commodity exchanges can encourage a consistently higher crop quality, a key condition for global trade, says. ECX
Eleni left the ECX in 2012 and has been working with investors, including International Finance Corp.—an arm of the World Bank—and Bob Geldof’s 8 Miles private equity fund, to establish an exchange in Ghana. Next she hopes to help set up one in Cameroon.
Shahidur Rashid, a food-security analyst with the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, says the problem is that conditions for success, such as large trading volumes, a strong financial sector, and a commitment to transparency, don’t yet exist in most countries: “A new institution should add value, and I struggle to find that value,” Rashid says. “Every country does not need an exchange. Nor is it any good to establish them in places where they will fail.” But he also says that under the right circumstances, exchanges can make sense.
March 25th, 2015 by Tom Minney
Schulze Global Investments is the longest-established private equity firm in Ethiopia. It is run by a family office and is extremely well networked. It has made several deals, but apparently no exits yet although prospects are improving.
SGI Ethiopia has also not been much in the media. In this interview, Dinfin Mulupi of HowWeMadeItinAfrica.com interviews Blen Abebe, vice president at SGI Ethiopia, who highlights the importance of a local team for successful private equity. For the full story, have a look at the original interview here.
Blen Abebe (photo reprinted from HowWeMadeItinAfrica)
So how has SGI been able to navigate this unique environment?
At Schulze Global, most staff are Ethiopian-Americans and the fact that you look Ethiopian and speak the native language ensures the locals can relate to us. For example, we have closed deals partly because we were on the ground and could relate better to locals than other private equity firms. And it makes sense, because most family businesses have been passed down through generations so they wouldn’t necessarily trust, or be willing to work with, you before they get to know you. That is why Schulze Global ensures it has people who know both the foreign and local culture.
What are some of the challenges SGI faces in Ethiopia?
Well, being the first one on the ground can have both positive and negative effects. For example, when Schulze Global opened its office back in 2008 most people had never heard of private equity. So we literally had to go through a teaching process of what it was we are doing. And to add to that, most companies confuse us with a bank so we must almost always explain the difference between a private equity firm and a bank.
After they understand the private equity structure, then the next challenge is agreeing to the terms that are in the term sheet.
Do you see in the future any likelihood of an exit?
We haven’t done any exits yet, but the future looks positive as we are seeing many entrants into the market. Therefore an exit via a strategic buyer should be attainable.
With more private equity funds coming in, how will things play out?
Competition is definitely increasing. We see it already. In fact, in one deal we are currently looking at, the sponsor is telling us they are also being courted by another fund. But our strength has always been that we have been in Ethiopia the longest, so we know what works and what doesn’t. And that long presence, even a small thing like knowing where our office is and the fact that they can visit us anytime, gives the local sponsors comfort – and at the same time gives us some leverage compared with other funds using the “fly-in and fly-out” model.