Naspers gives Europe its biggest consumer tech listing

Naspers has pulled off a dramatic restructuring of its holdings to unlock value after the successful listing of Prosus on Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange and simultaneously on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). Prosus Group is valued at EUR120 billion ($134bn) and is Europe’s biggest consumer Internet firm and the third in value on the Amsterdam bourse after Royal Dutch Shell and Unilever.

South Africa’s Naspers is Africa’s most valuable company and still owns some 73% of Prosus. It has spun off its global Internet investments into Prosus including the largest stake (31%) of China’s Tencent and the largest stake (28%) stake in Mail.Ru, a giant Russian internet company, reported to be worth $1.4bn.

According to an announcement in Amsterdam: “The Prosus Group’s businesses and investments serve more than 1.5 billion people in 89 markets, and are the market leaders in 77 of those markets. The Prosus Group’s consumer internet services span the core focus segments of classifieds, payments and fintech as well as food delivery, plus other online businesses including e-tail and travel. The Prosus Group aims to build leading companies that create value by empowering people and enriching communities.”

Other investments include Russia’s Digital Sky Technologies (which invests in Facebook, Groupon and Zygna), Indian e-commerce start-up Swiggy, Takeaway.com, Germany’s Delivery Hero, investment in Brazil and e-commerce in the Middle East through Souq.com as well as financial services firms PayU and Wibmo.

In May 2018 Naspers sold its 11% shareholding in India’s Flipkart for $1.6 billion after buying it for $616m (Walmart bought 77% of Flipkart for $16bn in its biggest acquisition as it sought to square up to Amazon and local competitors for domination of the growing Indian market.

Although Euronext Amsterdam bourse set a guide price of €58.70 per share, investor enthusiasm was high as the shares opened trading at €76 and reached a high of €77.40, up 32%, on the first day before closing the week at €73.90. News reports say the market valuation of Prosus is based mostly on the Tencent holding and does not count many of the other investments.

Unlocking value in Naspers

Naspers had made what has been described as “the best venture capital investment ever” when in 2001 it bought 46.5% of Chinese Internet tech company Tencent with an initial investment of $32 million, which had grown to $175bn in value by March 2018, according to Bloomberg. It has also made huge profits by selling some of its Tencent holdings but remained with 31.1%.

Naspers has been listed on the JSE since 1994, and its investors are predominantly South Africans including the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), managed by the Public Investment Commissioners (PIC). Before the spinoff it made up 25% of the JSE’s total market capitalization, and investors had to scale back their holdings to avoid over-concentration, so that the total value of Naspers was less than that of its shares in Tencent, ignoring the other companies.

After the spinoff, Naspers share price fell nearly 30% and it became only 15% of the JSE market capitalization.

The Amsterdam listing opens the global holdings to a wider pool of investors and should permit reassessment of both the value of both Prosus shares- Naspers still owns some 73% of Prosus which has also – and allow for future capital raising. One of the biggest investors in Naspers is the South African Government Employees Pension Fund, managed by the Public Investment Commissioners.

$314m for African tech start-ups

Naspers is seeking to find similar media, e-commerce, consumer, fintech and other successes in Africa. It has appointed 48-year-old Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa as CEO, its first black and first woman chief executive, according to Quartz. She was previously chief executive of Shanduka Group, an investment company founded by South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa. In October 2018 Naspers announced a $314m fund to invest into promising African tech start-ups.

History of Naspers

Naspers was set up in 1915 as De Nasionale Pers Beperkt (National Press Ltd) to promote Afrikaner nationalism and it continued to support the National Party over the decades until 1989, throughout apartheid.

The first newspaper was Die Burger in 1915 and magazine Die Huisgenoot in 1916 (both originally name De.. ). Naspers started publishing books in 1918. In 1985 it set up M-Net, the first pay-TV in southern Africa.

(Disclosure: the writer owns Naspers and Prosus shares)

Executive pleads guilty as collapse of $14bn Abraaj hits PE flows into Africa

The ongoing collapse of the giant Abraaj platform in the world’s biggest private-equity insolvency has hit flows into Africa-focused private-equity funds. Former Abraaj managing partner Mustafa Abdel-Wadood is cooperating with New York prosecutors after pleading guilty in a Manhattan court 2 weeks ago. He could face up to 125 years in prison.

Abraaj was founded in 2002 and based in Dubai. It was one of the world’s most influential emerging-market investors and acquired the Aureos private equity funds in 2012 (as reported in this blog) with the support of key Aureos investor CDC. At the time of the collapse Abraaj managed almost $14 billion on its platforms with 30 funds and holdings in health-care, energy, lending and real estate in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Turkey.

Abdel-Wadood, age 49 years and a citizen of Egypt and Malta, was arrested in April in New York while taking his wife and son to look at universities, according to this 28 June report on Bloomberg news. In a prepared statement in a Manhattan Court on 28 June he choked back tears as he said: “I knew at the time that I was participating in conduct that was wrong.. I ended up drifting from who I really am. For that, I am ashamed.” He is under house arrest subject to $10m bond.

He is one of six former Abraaj executives facing racketeering and securities-fraud charges. Founder and chief executive Arif Naqvi, from Pakistan but a UK resident and regular participant at Davos conferences, was arrested in London in April and detained at Wandsworth Prison. In May he was released on conditional bail of £15m ($19m) in May while fighting extradition to the US (see this report in the Financial Times . Other former executives charged were Chief Financial Officer Ashish Dave and managing directors Sivendran Vettivetpillai, Rafique Lakhani and Waqar Siddique.

Anonymous warnings had been sent to potential investors in September 2017, according to a 5 May  Bloomberg report . The email, entitled “Abraaj Fund 6 Warning” stated: “The governance is not what it appears but employees are afraid to speak or partners entrenched so don’t speak,” the email read. “There is no smoke without fire. Be the hero in your firm and uncover the truth by asking simple questions.”

However, Abraaj answered queries to investors’ satisfaction although the $6bn fund eventually did not go ahead.

According to press reviews of the governance lapses that had led to the collapse, expenses at Abraaj had been running higher than income from management and performance fees on the funds leading to multimillion dollar operating losses. The group borrowed, and in the 9 months to March 2018 financing costs came to $41m. It hoped to sell assets to avoid a cash crunch but the deals were repeatedly delayed, according to The Economist.

Money had been moved out of funds to cover losses, according to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It says that Naqvi and Abraaj Investment Management Limited (AIML) misappropriating $230m from the Abraaj Growth Markets Health Fund (AGHF), which closed at $1 billion in 2016, between Sept 2016 and June 2018. The funds were supposedly for acquisitions but the SEC says Naqvi commingled the assets with corporate funds of AIML and its parent company, Abraaj Holdings – essentially moving them into the company’s bank accounts.

Four limited partner (LP) investors in the Abraaj Healthcare fund, including Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the International Finance Corporation, raised concerns, hired investigators and commissioned an audit. The news broke in February 2018 and Abraaj went for liquidation in the Cayman Islands and the United Arab Emirates in April 2018. It decided to restructure, so AIML was set up to manage the funds in 2018 and Naqvi was moved from being CEO of the funds, according to Private Equity Africa news website, which has been covering this story extensively.

According to the 28 June Bloomberg report Abdel-Wadood described the alleged conspiracy, which related to hiding Abraaj’s poor financial condition and convincing new investors to put up more cash, including lying to U.S.-based investors during meetings in Manhattan in 2016 as they sought to raise $3 billion for a new fund. The money they raised wasn’t spent the way investors were told, he said: “Put simply, money was co-mingled that should have been separated, and investors were not told the truth.”

Liquidators have been seeking other fund managers to take over the funds but in each case a share of LPs must approve the change of manager and Abraaj works with 500 LPs.

At the end of 2018, private equity house Actis was cleared to acquire 16 Abraaj funds covering Africa and Asia, including sub vehicles and legacy funds taken over from Aureos, and according to The Economist talks continue on the African funds, while Franklin Templeton is talking about taking over the Turkish fund. In May, US-based TPG said it would become custodian for the healthcare AGHF fund and in 2018 Abraaj returned the money it owed, plus interest.

The Economist quotes Linda Mateza of South Africa’s Government Employees Pension Fund, an Abraaj investor, saying: “We cannot afford not to invest in private equity because of the potentially higher returns.”

According to the 5 May Bloomberg report the audit into AGHF “had a ripple effect on private equity activity in emerging markets, and local buyout activity in the Middle East came to a near standstill”. The Economist magazine commented in May “Many large institutions have stopped investing in Africa and the Middle East, its home turf. In the year after its troubles became public, buy-out funds focused on the region raised just $1bn, a third of their annual average in the previous five years” citing figures from Private Equity International.

 “The firm’s problems were real. Its collapse last year consumed millions of dollars of investors’ money, the reputation of Dubai’s financial regulator and Abraaj itself. Even as rivals divide up the firm’s former empire, it threatens to cause yet more damage.” The article says Abraaj still owes over $1.2bn to investors. A letter by lawyers for investors in the $1.6bn Abraaj Fund IV is reported to claim that at least $300m went towards “wrongful transactions” and other funds could be owed tens of millions.

Do auditors help investors?

The Financial Times suggests that Abraaj’s auditor KPMG, which “exonerated the firm just a few weeks after the scandal broke” may have had a conflict of interest: “It transpired that KPMG had close ties to senior people in the business: the chief executive of KPMG’s Dubai arm had a son who worked at Abraaj, and one executive, Ashish Dave, had spent time at both Abraaj and KPMG”. KPMG also worked for companies that Abraaj invested into.

PwC, which became the liquidator for Abraaj, found a large funding gap and that the firm spent beyond its means and used other people’s money to fund the gap. The article interviews various experts.  Eamon Devlin, partner at MJ Hudson, an asset management consultancy that advises private equity investors, suggests changing auditor every 3 years, much like a listed fund has to, so that a 10-year fund gets through up to 3 different audit firms. He also says that investors should get “more investigative powers and responsibilities to look into these potential conflicts”.

One private equity executive says the industry should introduce requirements already used in US, UK and other places that an auditor working on one part of the business is not allowed to provide services to another part. Ludovic Phalippou, a finance professor at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School who authored the textbook Private Equity Laid Bare said; “[The Abraaj case] shows how much freedom there is for investors to be proactive. If they had been more proactive, [the alleged mishandling of funds] would not have gone unnoticed.”

Affiliate link: Phalippou writes on Amazon “The intention is to have a book that can be read more like a novel than like a regular textbook. In order to have long-lasting impact on readers, I believe in making things as simple as possible, boiling everything down to the essence, going straight to the point, and, most importantly, writing in an informal and hopefully entertaining way. The objective is for the reader to open this book with anticipation of having a good educational time. “

Warning about “less orthodox” private equity debts

Private equity fund managers (general partners or GPs) are using money promised by investors (limited partners or LPs) as security to borrow from banks. The Economist magazine says, in a recent article on the Abraaj crisis, says investors are becoming “warier of private-equity firms’ less orthodox tactics”.

The magazine says that GPs use these “subscription lines” to make investments without drawing down investors’ funds. This can then improve the returns they can offer investors – and by implication their performance fees. The article estimates about $400bn of this debt is used worldwide.

 It says that after Abraaj defaulted on several facilities, the banks called on the LPs to pay up. It quotes Kelly DePonte of Probitas Partners, which advises firms on raising capital: “They were not best pleased.”

The Economist claims the industry is getting more restrictive as LPs step up the amount of paperwork required, including reporting. This could mean that small and innovative firms – including some investing in Africa – may not be able to cope with the requirements as “side letters”—documents from each LP specifying the paperwork it requires from fund managers—now reach 100 pages, 10x what they used to be.

Nairobi opens second derivatives market in sub-Saharan Africa

Nairobi Securities Exchange stockbrokers (photo credit: Nation Media Group)

The Nairobi Securities Exchange says the first trades on its new derivatives market NEXT went smoothly on 4 July, according to media reports. The NEXT market is set up to trade equity index futures and single stock futures. Initially trading is offered in 5 single stock futures and futures on the NSE 25 Index.

The NSE is the second exchange in sub-Saharan Africa after Johannesburg to launch derivatives trading. According to a Business Daily news report, this week’s launch is a soft launch restricted to a few investors, and the market will open to all investors after a week of trials.

Xinhua news agency reports a statement from NSE: “The NSE NEXT derivatives market has successfully conducted its first futures trades. The initial trades were executed by Standard Investment Bank and Kingdom Securities who cleared through the Co-operative Bank of Kenya.”

The market is mostly for individual and institutional investors looking to better manage risks, hedge, arbitrage and speculate over the future value of the participating stocks and the index.

Regulator approves

The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) regulator gave approval to the NSE to launch and operate the “Derivatives Exchange Market” in an announcement on 29 May. This paved the way for Thursday’s launch.

Paul Muthaura, CMA Chief Executive, stated: “‘The approval granted to the NSE to operationalize a derivatives market marks the achievement of a flagship project under the economic pillar of Kenya’s Vision 2030. The derivatives market will facilitate deeper and more liquid capital markets and position Kenya closer to becoming the heart of capital markets investment in Africa, as envisioned in the Capital Markets Master Plan”.

Other financial and commodity derivatives will be introduced later.

The launch follows a successful 6-month derivatives pilot test phase in July-Dec 2018, and resolution of key issues that arose. Stanbic Bank and the Co-operative Bank of Kenya have been approved by the banking regulator Central Bank of Kenya to provide clearing and settlement for the derivatives market.

NSE has been working with CMA and other stakeholders for years to prepare for the launch, as reported in this blog in December 2014.

What can you trade?

Investors are initially offered single stock futures targeting 5 liquid stocks: Safaricom, East African Breweries, Equity Holdings, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and BAT. They can also trade equity index futures based on the NSE 25 share index, that represents the performance of 25 blue-chip listed firms. The index was launched by the bourse in October 2015 as part of preparations for the NEXT derivatives market.

Initially 7 stocks were targeted but the NSE requires that they have a minimum KES 50 billion ($487 million) market capitalization and minimum average daily turnover of KES7m.

According to a report on 4 July in Business Daily, state-run Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) with a market cap on 3 July of KES 39bn and Bamburi Cement (KES 41bn on Wednesday) have been excluded from futures trading after failing the minimum capitalization test.

The newspaper reports NSE chief executive Geoffrey Odundo’s statement: “All futures contracts listed on NEXT will have quarterly expiry dates; this will be the third Thursday of March, June, September and December of every year. All NEXT futures contracts will initially be cash settled.”

Trading fees have been pegged at 0.17% of the total value for single stock futures and 0.14% for index derivatives, compared to trading fees on equities ranging from 1% to 2%. According to an earlier Xinhua report, Rufus Kariuki, manager of derivatives at NSE, said that the derivatives will be settled at the end of each trading day to reduce risk of default by investors.

One contract will be equivalent to 1,000 underlying shares for stocks trading below KES 100 (Safaricom, KCB, Equity and KenGen), while for those trading above KES 100 (BAT, EABL and Bamburi), a contract will equal 100 underlying shares. One index point will equal KES 100 under NSE trading rules for derivatives.

The NSE has set aside KES 130m ($1.27m) for the settlement guarantee fund that will insure investors against counterparty default risk as part of preparations to operationalize the derivatives market.

The NSE expects derivatives trading will boost liquidity. There are 65 listed firms. Telecoms companies and banks are among the most heavily traded.

Africa issuers raised $341m in 6 months, down 28%

Enterprises based in Africa raised $341 million through equity issues in the first half of 2019, down 28% on the $472m raised in the first half of 2018. Law firm Baker McKenzie has published its Cross-Border IPO Index for H1 2019, using data sourced from Refinitiv, and says this was mainly because only $85m was raised from 4 initial public offers (IPOs) on African exchanges, down 80% from $419m from 4 IPOs in the first half of 2018.

The numbers exclude mega issues by Africa-focused issuers based outside Africa. These include $750m raised on 28 June by the IPO for UK-headquartered Airtel Africa (read about the slow first day) which operates in 14 countries; and $196m raised by pan-Africa e-commerce Jumia Group (headquartered in Germany) on the New York Stock Exchange in April, see our article about the share price performance since then. Jumia sells in 13 African countries and is top e-commerce website with over 15m monthly visitors in Nigeria.

Wildu du Plessis, Head of Capital Markets at Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg, says in a press release: “The drop in African IPO values in H1 2019 was mostly because of political and economic uncertainty on the continent. Investors wanting to raise capital in Africa are thinking twice and waiting for political and economic stability to return before going ahead. Also eroding investor confidence in Africa are the escalating global trade tensions, which have culminated in, for example, the so-called United States (US) China trade wars and the possibility of a “no deal Brexit” – both have the potential to impact African economies significantly.”

Egypt buzzing

Listing bell and trading floor of the Egyptian Exchange

Baker McKenzie says Egypt is generating buzz around its pipeline of IPOs with some speculating this could be the busiest year for listings in Cairo since the uprising in 2011. Growing confidence in economic policies introduced since the currency float has boosted the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) and is prompting companies to consider share sales.

In April Khalid Abel Rahman, Assistant Minister of Finance for Capital Market Affairs, said the Government was embarking on an IPO programme is to raise EGP100bn ($5.8bn). Mohamed Farid, Chairman of the Egyptian Exchange, said that three private companies expect to launch initial public offerings (IPOs) before the end of 2019,

Baker McKenzie says a large IPO is Carbon Holdings Ltd, expected to raise $250m by selling a 30% stake and listing in London and Egypt. The company has missed the Q2 timetable mentioned by Karim Helal, Managing Director of Corporate Finance and Investor Relations, in this article last September. EFG Hermes is acting as advisor and global coordinator for the IPO, Baker & McKenzie is local legal counsel, and White & Case is international counsel.

Another large IPO is expected from Banque du Caire SAE, owned by Egypt’s second-largest state-owned bank Banque Misr. The bank has announced it will offer a 20%-30% of its shares for sale through private placement and public offering. The offer is expected to raise $300m-$400m and is forecast to happen in Q3 or Q4.

Hard work in South Africa

Du Plessis warns that governance concerns held back capital raising in South Africa: “Capital raising has decreased substantially in recent years, also due to economic and political uncertainty. Political stability will hopefully begin to return now that country’s elections are over, but there is still a lot of work to do to stabilise the economy. The World Bank recently downgraded South Africa’s growth rates and I think there is at least another year of hard work before the economy starts to recuperate and capital markets in South Africa recover,” Du Plessis says.

Life returns in Nigeria

Du Plessis adds: “There are also signs of life returning to Nigeria’s capital markets. Political instability was also to blame for a big collapse in capital raising in Nigeria in recent years, but the country looks to be recovering”. Baker McKenzie’s recent Global Transactions Forecast predicts more IPOs in Nigeria in the next 3 years. “Hopefully this is the start of a long upswing in capital raising activity in the country,” says Du Plessis.

Not specifically mentioned was the $5.1bn listing of MTN Nigeria on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (see article), which is expected to be followed by a public offering of shares soon.

By sector (details from Baker McKenzie, Enko Capital and other sources)

Energy and power: South African company Renergen Ltd, which produces natural gas and helium, in an IPO in Australia offered 12.5m shares at AUD0.80 to raise AUD10m ($7m) for its Virginia Gas Project in South Africa. Financial: Banking group Oragroup listed on the Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM) in April after a successful IPO in Oct-Nov 2018, selling 20% of the shares to raise XOF56.92bn ($101.2m) in the largest share offer on the BRVM.
Technology: It was reported by Enko that telco Mascom could do an IPO in Botswana later this year and Econet’s Strive Masiyiwa says it will be in October and will be the biggest listing on the Botswana Stock Exchange, according to this report. Namibia’s MTC (Mobile Telecommunications Corporation) has announced plans for an IPO in Mar-June 2020.
Real estate: ICON Properties PLC’s IPO last December in Malawi raised $19.3m, and the shares were listed on the Malawi Stock Exchange in January.
Industrial: Skyway Aviation Handling Co (SAHCOL) in Nigeria launched an IPO in November 2018 but only raised NGN1.2bn ($3.4m) compared to a target of NGN1.9bn ($5.2m) despite extending the offer until January. It listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange on 24 April.
Healthcare: Speed Medical SAE raised EGP21.5m ($1.3m), less than half its target in a domestic IPO before listing on the Egyptian Exchange in April. Consumer: Eastern Tobacco, listed on the EGX, announced in March that it had raised EGP1.7bn ($104m) through offering 4.5% of its shares in public and private offers.

Global Outlook

The Africa picture mirrors a global 37% fall in capital raised through IPOs in global markets, compared to the first 6 months of 2018. According to Baker McKenzie, a total of $69.8bn was raised across 514 IPOs, which is the lowest for value and volume since 2016. The US Federal government shutdown, continuing trade tensions between the US and Beijing, the ongoing Brexit saga and the decline of mega IPOs all contributed to a slower market performance. “With fewer IPOs in the market, competition amongst exchanges is growing, as some listing locations make strategic changes to entice public offerings. The introduction of China’s Science and Technology Innovation Board looks set to shake up the market and challenge New York and Hong Kong for tech listings. “

Koen Vanhaerents, Baker McKenzie’s Head of Global Capital Markets, says: “.. significant political issues stifled activity, along with a change in investor sentiment towards risk – particularly among pre-revenue companies.” The decline “is perhaps skewed slightly when compared to the stellar performance seen in the same period in 2018. With a strong pipeline, H2 2019 looks set to deliver a much more prosperous performance overall.”

EMEA outlook

The EMEA IPO market struggled during the first 6 months of 2019 due to uncertainties surrounding the UK’s exit from the European Union. Overall capital raised fell by 67% compared to the same period in 2018 to $9.2bn while the number of IPOs fell by 61% to 47. Cross-border activity was even more profoundly impacted with only three listings in EMEA and only one of those on the London Stock Exchange. Domestic activity levels helped the London Stock Exchange to retain the top spot for overall capital raising at $2.7bn from 12 listings. Seven of these listings were from the financials sector and raised almost $2bn, the largest of which was Network International’s $1.4bn IPO.

Second to London was Borsa Italiana with $2.3bn from 7 listings, boosted by the $2.2bn Nexi SpA listing. SIX Swiss exchange pulled in $1.9bn from 2 IPOs, with Stadler Rail’s debut accounting for $1.3bn of that.

Despite its sluggish performance, EMEA is proving to be the region of choice for FinTech listings, particularly in the payments field, as the age of digitization and cashless transactions continues to explode, fueling the need for innovation and technological growth. FinTech listings accounted for more than a third of capital raised and the largest listing was Nexi SpA’s IPO.

Weak reception for Airtel Africa $750m IPO

Share price chart from ADVFN ( https://uk.advfn.com/stock-market/london/airtel-africa-AAF/share-chart )

Shares in Africa’s second biggest telecom company had a disappointing start in conditional trading on the London Stock Exchange today. The initial public offer had been priced at the bottom of the 80p-100p range, and in exchange trading it quickly plummeted 16% from 80p and by 4pm the shares had retreated to around 67p.

Today the trading was conditional, only for holders allocated shares in the global IPO. The shares are set to start trading unconditionally on the LSE from 3 July and Airtel Africa will be dual-listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange from 5 July.

The offer of 744.0m shares had raised approximately £595 million ($750m), including 39.2m shares offered to Nigerian institutional and high net worth investors for a total Nigerian offer of some $39.4m.

According to this morning’s stock exchange news service RNS announcement : “The offer was oversubscribed with strong interest from a variety of reputed global investors across the United Kingdom, United States, Africa, Europe, Middle East and Asia. Dominant allocation to Global long only, strategic and pre-IPO investors.”

There is an over-allotment option of 67.6 new shares which, if exercised in full, would account for approximately £54m of the offer. Including the overallotment option, the market capitalization at this afternoon’s price is some £2.6bn ($3.2bn), down from the offer valuation of £3.1bn.

After the IPO the free float was 19% but after including pre-IPO investors holdings the free float will be over 25% and it aims to be included in FTSE UK indices.

According to the RNS announcement, Raghunath Mandava, CEO of Airtel Africa, said: “We are delighted by the strong response we have received.. This is a proud moment for the team that has built Airtel Africa into the second largest mobile operator in Africa. We are now the first telecom company to simultaneously list on the Premium segment of the London Stock Exchange and Nigerian Stock Exchange through an IPO.”

According to our article in January and this month in here and today’s article in the Financial Times a consortium of investors including SoftBank Group, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek, Singapore Telecommunications and private equity firm Warburg Pincus invested $1.25bn at a valuation of around $4.4bn last October. In January this year Qatar Investment Authority invested $200m at a valuation closer to $5bn.

At that stage it was anticipated that the London and Nigeria IPOs would raise $1.25bn.

The IPO was advised by 8 global banks: JP Morgan, Citigroup, BofA Merrill Lynch, Absa Group Limited, Barclays Bank PLC, BNP Paribas, Goldman Sachs International and Standard Bank.

Indian parent Bharti Airtel aims to use the funds to slash debt and free cash to combat rival Reliance Jio Infocomm in India.

Airtel Africa is the holding company for Bharti Airtel’s operations in 14 countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana. It is Africa’s second largest telco with over 94m customers, and ranked in the top 2 carriers in most of the countries where it operates, offering 2G, 3G and 4G services, plus mobile commerce through Airtel Money.

Performance had improved after years of losses against financially stronger telco players in Africa, including Vodacom. Rising mobile data consumption had helped it reach a first full year of profit and the figures for the year to 31 March were revenue of more than $3bn and operating profit of $734m.

Airtel Tanzania HQ (photo by Prof.Chen Hualin creative commons by Wikipedia)

Africa’s DFIs proud at banking awards gala

Two leading African development finance institutions led the pack at this week’s African Banker Awards. Bank of the Year 2019 goes to Afreximbank, making giant steps in growing profitable operations in financing and promoting trade within and from African and launching many key new products in the past 18 months.

African Banker of the Year is Admassu Tadesse, President of Trade and Development Bank and from Ethiopia. The bank – formerly PTA Bank –  has been expanding its operations in East and Southern Africa and launched many new products.

Olukayode Pitan of Bank of Industry (left) awards African Banker of the Year 2019 to Admassu Tadesse of Trade and Development Bank

The African Banker Awards spotlight and celebrate excellence in banking and finance in Africa. The 2019 winners were announced at a prestigious gala dinner in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, on the fringe of the annual meeting of the African Development Bank.

“I am very honoured to be a judge. It’s exciting to read the submissions about many top-quality African institutions and excellent leaders. Its very hard to choose winners from many inspiring entries, including giant investments and transactions that are transformational for African economies.” Tom

South African banks dominated in tightly-contested investment banking and in the deals of the year. Absa won investment bank of the year; Standard Bank and RMB won the equity deal of the year with the VIVO Energy’s £548m ($742m)  IPO in London (see our story); debt deal of the year went to Rothschild & Co for Senegal’s dual-currency Eurobond ($1bn and €1bn); and infrastructure deal of the year went to Credit Agricole and TDB which financed a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) platform in Mozambique. 

In other categories: Ecobank won retail bank of the year; Kenya’s KCB won the prize for innovation; Equity Bank for its CSR activities; and Nigeria’s Bank of Industry won the prize for financial inclusion.

Overall there were excellent winners from most African regions in 2019. Organizers and the 2 main sponsors of the awards, the African Guarantee Fund and the Bank of Industry, called to make banking more inclusive, both in gender representation among senior managers and through lending to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).  

The 2019 lifetime achievement award went to South African Sizwe Nxasana, former CEO of First Rand group, which grew at a compound annual growth rate of 20% under his leadership. In his speech, Nxasana called for even greater investment in human capital to accelerate growth in Africa. The African Banker Icon award was for Mitchell Elegbe, founder of Interswitch, the payments service provider another Africa-led “unicorn”, a tech start-up business whose value is likely to exceed $1bn (see our story).

Tarek Amer, Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt, won Central Bank Governor of the Year for his work in restoring faith in Egypt’s markets, helping make it one of the best-performing emerging markets. Benin’s Romuald Wadagni won Finance Minister of the Year, after big improvements to macro-economic indicators and structural transformation reforms.

Omar Ben Yedder, Publisher of African Banker magazine, said: “2018 was another strong year for banks. Undoubtedly fintech was the most buoyant sector in terms of tech investments and we are yet to truly see the transformative impact it can have. Despite the positive stories from the banking sector, the words of the winner of our Banker of the Year still resonate when he said last year at the Africa Investment Forum: we need to speed up, scale up and synergize. ”


THE 2019 AFRICAN BANKER AWARD WINNERS
 
African Banker of the Year
Admassu Tadesse, TDB

Lifetime Achievement Award
Sizwe Nxasana, former CEO, First Rand Group 

African Banker Icon
Mitchell Elegbe, Founder, Interswitch Group

African Bank of the Year
Afreximbank

Minister of Finance of the Year 
Romuald Wadagni, République du Benin

Central Bank Governor of the Year 
Tarek Amer, Central Bank Governor, Egypt
 
Best Retail Bank in Africa
Ecobank
 
Investment Bank of the Year
Absa Capital
 
Award for Financial Inclusion
Bank of Industry, Nigeria

Special Commendation for their contribution to the development and financing of the Rural Sector: Banco Nacional de Guinea Ecuatorial (BANGE)
 
Socially Responsible Bank of the Year 
Equity Bank, Kenya
 
Innovation in Banking 
KCB, Kenya

Special Commendation: JUMO, South Africa

Deal of the Year – Equity
Vivo IPO
Standard Bank & Rand Merchant Bank (South Africa)
 
Deal of the Year – Debt
$2.2bn Senegal Eurobond
Rothschild 

Infrastructure Deal of the Year 
Mozambique Floating LNG
TDB & Credit Agricole

Regional Bank of the Year
East Africa – KCB, Kenya
West Africa – Orabank
North Africa – Banque de l’Habitat (Tunisia)
Southern Africa – Mauritius Commercial Bank
Central Africa – BGFI, Gabon

Bumpy ride when African tech unicorn Jumia comes to NYSE

Jumia share price from Yahoo Finance

Investors in Africa’s technology unicorn company Jumia have had a bucking bronco ride since it listed American Depository Receipts (ADRs, representing shares) on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Similarly the company is learning fast that the world’s most developed public markets still have elements of the Wild West,

Jumia has seen the price of the ADRs more than double since it started trading on 12 April at $18.95, after an initial public offer (IPO) when people bought in at $14.50 a share. By 1 May it had climbed to $46.99, an impressive 224% increase for IPO investors.

The listing was the first IPO by an African startup on a major global exchange and the issue of 13.5m ADRs, representing shares accounting for 17.6% of the company, raised $196m for the e-commerce firm.

A report by US media company Citron Research published on 9 May claimed investors had been misled about the business model and revenues of Jumia in Africa The ADRs were already trading and the report triggered  started to slip back, when the report came out there were two days of heavy trading and the price crashed nearly 25% to $24.50 on 10 May before sliding back to $19.92 by 17 May. US lawyers started preparing class-action lawsuits against Jumia.

On 13 May Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara, co-CEOs of Jumia countered by releasing first-quarter results early, showing 58% growth in gross merchandise value (GMV) representing the total value of merchandise sold before deducting fees, and 102% increase in revenue. They said: “.. year-on-year improvement of 356 basis points of operating loss as a percentage of GMV and further development of JumiaPay, highlighted by the investment by and partnership with Mastercard. We believe that Jumia is increasingly relevant for consumers and sellers in Africa.”

Jumia background

Jumia was launched in 2012 as Africa Internet Group in 2012. Germany’s Rocket Internet, an incubator and venture capital fund based in Berlin, supported it and still owns 20.6% of the shares.

Its operates in 14 African countries, offering goods and services including online takeaway food, travel bookings and classified advertisements. In Nigeria it operates JumiaPay payment platform and a delivery service of leased warehouses, trucks and motorcycles, and allows African traders to sell online with more than 81,000 active sellers (defined as a retailer who received an order on Jumia in the last 12 months). The prospectus said there were 4m active shoppers, up from 2.7m a year before.

In 2016 it was valued at $1bn – earning the title “tech unicorn” – in a funding round involving South Africa’s Mobile Telecommunications Networks MTN, which owns 29.7% of the shares, investment bank Goldman Sachs, French insurer AXA and French telco Orange. Mastercard Europe snapped up $50m in Jumia ordinary shares before the New York IPO.

CEOs Jeremy Hodara and Sacha Poignonnec are French, both former employees of consultancy firm McKinsey, and the company is incorporated in Berlin. However it has corporate presence and pays taxes in Africa, has its headquarters in Lagos, operates exclusively in Africa, and employs more than 5,000 people in Africa. Juliet Anammah, the Nigerian CEO of the main country operation rang the NYSE ceremonial trading bell. Two Nigerian tech entrepreneurs Tunde Kehinde and Raphael Afaedor were co-founders but both left in 2015 to create other companies.

The company was still making heavy EBITDA losses of €172m in 2018, compared to revenues of €131m on gross merchandise volume of €828m, up from revenues €94m in 2017. Accumulated losses by 31 Dec 2018 were €862m. It has no plans to pay dividends and will focus on acquiring sellers and consumers, growing technology infrastructure and sales and marketing expenses.

A McKinsey report suggests African consumers will spend $2.1trn by 2025, and e-commerce could be 10% of that. Many tech firms take years to reach profitability and Jumia’s track record is only encouraging enthusiastic New York buyers.

Airtel Africa confirms June $750m listing in London

Airtel Tanzania HQ (photo by Prof.Chen Hualin – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, creative commons by Wikipedia

Airtel Africa has confirmed that it is going ahead in June 2019 with its $750 million listing on the main market of the London Stock Exchange, as flagged up in January in our article. Owned by India’s Bharti Airtel, it is Africa’s second biggest mobile operator with operations in 14 countries and has 99m subscribers and 14.2m mobile money customers.

It said this week that it is aiming for a premium listing on the main market of the LSE, meaning it will float at least 25% of hits shares. It could offer up to 15% more shares through an overallotment option, according to a report in Financial Times which reports that the group says the exact number of shares to be sold and the indicative price range of the offer will be determined “in due course”.

Airtel will use the proceeds to cut the ratio of net debt to EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) to 2.5x, according to City AM. It also plans to expand data and mobile money services across Africa.

It is also considering a listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, according to reports.

Advisers and joint bookrunners appointed are JP Morgan, BofA Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Absa, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Goldman Sachs, HSBC and the Standard Bank of Africa but the sole as its advisers. JP Morgan will be sole sponsor; BofA Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and JPMorgan will also act as joint global co-ordinators.

The amount to be raised in the listing is down from the figure of $1bn given by Reuters on 28 May quoting Airtel, and the $1.25bn figure in January and February.

For the year to 31 March it posted revenue of more than $3bn and operating profit of $734m. For more background on the shareholders and earlier capital raises, read our earlier report.

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African Banker Awards coming up 11 June 2019

The African Banker Awards 2019 are coming up next week during the African Development Bank annual meeting in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Dynamic banks are competing for awards including:

  • African bank of the year
  • African banker of the year
  • Investment bank of the year
  • Best retail bank
  • Innovation in banking and 5 other categories

For a full list of entries, including the African megadeals competing for debt and equity deals of the year, see the awards website.

Omar Ben Yedder, the Group Publisher and Managing Director of IC Publications Group, which publishes African Banker Magazine, said:
“We have received a record amount of entries this year. The banking industry is being disrupted by technology and one could sense that the sector is embracing this technology to develop solutions that will truly benefit the real economy. Financial inclusion lies at the heart of formalising our industries and fintech is playing a role in bringing finance to the masses. ” 

The awards are held under the patronage of the African Development Bank and are sponsored by The African Guarantee Fund and The Bank of Industry. The Gala Dinner and Awards presentation will take place at the Gaviota, by the Sofitel Sipopo, Malabo.