Archive for the 'Asset management' Category

Conference: Pensions and Alternative Investments Africa 15-16 March

How fast-growing pensions can transform African economies

Africa’s pension and institutional savings industry is crossing the threshold into a major growth path. Channelled appropriately, they can transform Africa’s business and investment landscape and boost economies and savings.

Institutional savings – pension, insurance and other funds – are emerging as transformative forces for Africa’s economies. Industry leaders and others will discuss it at AME Trade’s Pension Funds & Alternative Investment Africa Conference (PIAFRICA), to be held in Mauritius from 15– 16 March.

The theme is “How can we leverage pension and investment funds for the development of Africa?” Pensions in 10 African countries were tallied at $379 billion in assets under management (including $322bn in South Africa). It is forecast that pension funds in the six largest sub-Saharan African markets will grow to $622bn in assets by 2020 and to $7.3 trillion by 2050.

The aim of the PIAFRICA conference is to debate whether the environment is being created for these funds to go into productive investments that will ensure their members get good returns and that contribute effectively to Africa’s growth. PIAFRICA will bring together the leaders of pension funds and institutional investors, policymakers, regulators, capital-markets, private equity and other stakeholders and is endorsed by the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA)

Discussions will focus on maximizing Africa’s pension fund and institutional investor opportunity, and will revolve around the following topics:
• Key trends, challenges and opportunities for Africa pension funds, Insurance, mutual and social security funds
• Africa’s growing funds and their potential to develop capital markets
• How to achieve long-term benefits through investing in infrastructure and other alternative assets, including real estate
• Private equity as an investment avenue for pensions
• For and against more latitude to invest across African borders?
• Best practices for sustainable growth and trust in funds
• Capacity building and support tools
• Technology, fund administration and member services
• Country profiles: African pension funds

Top speakers confirmed to date include:

  • Doug Lacey, Partner, Leapfrog Investments
  • Eric Fajemisin, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers
  • Mr PK Kuriachen, Chief Executive, Financial Services Commission
  • Ernest Thompson, Director General, Social Security & National Insurance Trust
  • Krishen Sukdev, CEO, Government Pensions Administration Agency
  • Richard Arlove, CEO, Abax Services

For more visit http://ametrade.org/piafrica/. For media accreditation and interviews contact Barbora Kuckova, Marketing Manager, AME Trade Ltd, Tel: +44 207 700 4949 Email: barbora@ametrade.org

Putting aside billions – Africa’s sovereign wealth funds

Sovereign wealth funds are sprouting across Africa – 15 countries have created funds in the last 20 years, managing a total of $159bn at the end of September 2014.

Angola, Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana all started funds in the last 3 years and and funds are discussed, expected or being born in: Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Uganda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

A key research event at Chatham House in September 2014 identified some principles of African SWF Demand, Development and Delivery.

Governance for sovereign wealth funds

Funds with strict rules should limit politicians’ discretion and they can ensure that money is earmarked for public investments. For instance Ghana has a rule that oil revenues must fund “development-related expenditures”. In many cases this funding can be done through the governments’ budget and oversight systems, which otherwise funds might undermine and bypass.

A key target is to ring-fence resource revenues to prevent mismanagement or corruption. Organizations such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative had campaigned about billions of dollars being siphoned off oil and gas revenues in countries such as Nigeria and Angola, and some $10bn withdrawn from Russia’s National Welfare Fund without justification. Resource funds also offer governments greater autonomy, power and political leverage.

Sovereign wealth funds debate at Chatham House (source: Chatham House)

Sovereign wealth funds debate at Chatham House (source: Chatham House)

Africa’s new arrivals – learning from the past

Ghana has long exported gold and cocoa but in 2007 was delighted to discover large petroleum reserves. Mona Helen Quartey, Deputy Minister of Finance, said they wanted to avoid the pitfalls and asked for advice before opting for wide consultation and accountability: “We held a national forum and did a survey in all 10 regions to get the opinions of Ghanaians on how to manage petroleum revenues; it was a very, very broad consultation. The survey had thematic areas such as: revenue collection and allocation; how much to spend and how much to save; managing the fund and transparency and accountability.”

The resulting Petroleum Revenue Management Act 2011 established the Ghana Stabilization Fund which only allows withdrawals when oil revenues are low, and the Ghana Heritage Fund to provide an endowment for future generations when petroleum reserves are depleted and withdrawals only after 15-year intervals. The funds were worth almost $450m in June, according to the Deputy Minister.

Ghana is a great example of independent oversight, according to Andrew Bauer, Economic Analyst with the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI): “There is public interest and an accountability committee which includes chiefs, journalists and accountants to report twice a year on whether fund rules are being followed.”

Victoria Barbary, Director of Institutional Investor’s Sovereign Wealth Center, adds plaudits: “The imperative is to think about strength of institutions, when there is a strong state, legislation and building by consensus. Ghana has done exceptionally well, making sure there is that trust element in managing money.”

Existing and Emerging SWFs in Africa. Source: Sovereign Wealth Center

Existing and Emerging SWFs in Africa. Source: Sovereign Wealth Center

New arrivals – Angola and Nigeria
Other new arrivals include Fundo Soberano de Angola, set up with an initial endowment of $5bn from oil. It has signed up to the Santiago Principles for SWF governance, and aims to diversify across various infrastructure and asset classes with one third for interest-bearing assets, a dedicated hotel fund and plans for infrastructure projects across sub-Saharan Africa. According to its chairman, José Filomeno de Sousa dos Santos, the Ministry of Finance has set up boards of directors and supervisors to look at detailed quarterly reports including bank statements, and an audit has recently been done by Deloitte.

Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) set up by an Act to invest surplus income from excess hydrocarbon reserves, including the savings between budgeted and actual oil prices. It started with $1bn and has three funds: Stabilization fund, Future generations fund for long-term investments, and Nigerian infrastructure fund.

Barbary says public confidence and trust will be key for new funds: “In countries across Africa strong institutions are lacking and there is lack of public trust in politicians to manage the money well and to the benefit of the whole polity. Resource-rich countries in Africa that have just come out of civil war, for instance Liberia and Sierra Leone, are thinking of setting up natural resource funds.” However, Tanzania is working closely with the NRGI to create a resource charter and educate policy-makers and non-governmental organizations, building public accountability and trust.

Expert advice is available from many sources, including the World Bank and a team from the US Treasury which built its skills on managing US assets and then decided to share the learning. Africans are increasingly skilled at managing their financial sector, whether as diaspora members returning after star turns in the world’s financial institutions or as students of professional finance qualifications.

These skills will be particularly important when funds invest domestically, for instance trying to emulate successes of Singapore and Kuwait in bringing high-paying technology and other jobs into the country, according to Michael Maduell of the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute. Infrastructure investment in Africa also presents challenges, although the field is developing fast. The NRGI’s Bauer warns: “It takes as much capacity to manage the manager as to manage the money.”

World Bank economist Håvard Halland says there is a risk of political meddling when fund managers are asked to trade off financial and social returns on parts of their domestic portfolios. This could compromise the independence of the fund management, the wealth objectives of the fund as well as the quality of investments. To reduce these risks, the fund should invest only in minority stakes in partnerships with qualified private investors or foreign SWFs, who can also bring additional expertise. “Only a narrow range of infrastructure investments are appropriate for SWFs under these constraints. Investments that do not have a commercial or quasi-commercial return, such as schools and hospitals, should go through the government budget. Rates of return on domestic investments need to be benchmarked against the return on foreign assets with no fixed allocation to domestic investments, and possibly allowing for a clearly defined markdown from the benchmark rate only if the investment has significant positive externalities”.

African SWFs are likely to grow fast in the short-term as countries that have oil and gas are keen to get it out and sold while world prices stay relatively high, as longer-term prospects are not good.

The funds are already a key force in building Africa’s economies, infrastructure and even capital markets. Getting their objectives, management, governance and investments right is vital for the welfare of future African generations.

Annex 1 – 6 steps to good governance and how Africa’s sovereign wealth funds measure up

Africans should be asking these questions about their sovereign wealth funds (SWF):

1. Set clear fund objectives: Examples include saving for future generation, stabilizing the budget, earmarking natural resource revenue for development priorities.

2. Establish fiscal rules for deposits and withdrawals that align with the objectives. Botswana avoids such rules. Where funds are allowed to invest domestically, including in social spending, they should work with national budget processes. Angola’s sovereign fund can bypass normal budgetary procedures.

3. Establish investment rules, There have been notorious problems worldwide, one of Africa’s worst examples has been the Libyan Investment Authority under “brother leader” Gadhafi, when his son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi had almost sole discretion to manage approximately $65bn and billions went to close acquaintances. In October 2014 LIA went to the High Court in UK to sue Goldman Sachs for $1bn for nine 2008 transactions that were worthless by 2011, alleging Goldman exploited the fund’s limited financial experience but made $350m profit, claims which Goldman denies. Chad’s fund was repurposed for military spending. Some funds such as Botswana block domestic investment, Angola is among others which see it as core.

4. Clarify a division of responsibilities between the ultimate authority over the fund, the fund manager, the operational manager (day-to-day), and set and enforce ethical and conflict- of-interest standards.

5. Require regular and extensive disclosures of key information and audits. Fund transparency is increasing, for example the rigorous transparency requirements of the Sao Tome and Principe National Oil Account and public scrutiny of its operations. By contrast, Botswana is still “opaque” despite signing the Santiago Principles and both Equatorial Guinea, another signatory, and Libya “keep nearly all information about their activities secret”.

6. Establish strong independent oversight bodies to monitor fund behaviour and enforce the rules

(Source, Natural Resource Governance Institute, New York)

Annex 2 – What are sovereign wealth funds?

The Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute of Las Vegas, USA defines SWF as “a state-owned investment fund or entity that is commonly established from balance of payments surpluses, official foreign currency operations, the proceeds of privatizations, governmental transfer payments, fiscal surpluses, and/or receipts resulting from resource exports”. That leaves out central banks’ reserves for balance-of-payments or monetary-policy, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), pension funds for government employees and assets to benefit individuals.

The term “sovereign wealth fund” has been around since 2005 when it was invented by Andrew Rozanov, then of State Street Global Advisors. However, there have been natural-resource funds since 1876 and the first SWF was the Kuwait Investment Fund in 1953.

Since then they have grown fast – total assets under management were $895bn in 2005, while an October 2014 count by the SWF Institute puts them at $6.8 trillion. Global giants are Norway’s Government Pension Fund with $893bn and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority with $773bn. Four of the top nine funds are Chinese, with $1.8 trillion between them. (Global stock market capitalization in 2013 was $62.6 trillion). The funds hit the global news agenda after the 2008 financial crisis as high oil prices helped increase some states’ spending power and funds snapped up high-profile investments including top financial firms.

SWFs have objectives such as helping to smooth expenditures when oil, gas and diamond revenues are volatile and helping governments set realistic budgets. They help governments avoid overspend when prices are high, for instance on legacy projects such as grandiose concert halls, or running out of cash when oil prices fall, leaving projects such as roads half-built. Funds can help governments save for the future in good years, especially useful if the governments are not good at spending well. Funds can also help countries ward off “Dutch disease” by keeping some revenues in foreign currencies.

What are Africa’s pension funds investing into?

Do you agree or disagree with this view? Comments are welcome below

Pension funds in 10 African countries already have $379 billion in assets under management – 85% or $322bn of it based in South Africa – and they continue to grow very fast. That means careful thinking about how to nurture Africa’s savings pool while the need to deploy these resources most productively puts the spotlight on the search for quality investment assets.

For example, Ghana’s pension fund industry reached $2.6bn by Dec 2013 after growing 400% from 2008 to 2014. Nigeria’s industry has tripled in the last 5 years to some $25bn in assets by De 2013, and assets under management are growing at 30% a year. There are 6 million contributors, but many more Nigerians still to sign up pensions.

Pensions have a special place in the capital market as they take a longer-term view and can be patient in the hope of greater returns. Some pension funds, in Africa and elsewhere, argue that pensioners are not just looking at the value of their retirement income but also the quality of their lives, opening the way to carefully chosen investments in infrastructure, healthcare and other benefits which pensioners and their families might enjoy.

What are the African factors driving the growth of pension funds?
• Many countries have set up new regulators and even more are introducing regulations, including forcing more employers to provide pensions. With the new regulatory frameworks come structural changes such as the need for professional third party asset managers
• Changing demographics: The age group over 60 years is the most rapidly increasing, according to some research
• It’s a virtuous circle, many Africans want savings opportunities. If pension funds produce results, and are well run and good at communicating, people will respond.

The growth is only beginning. So far only 5%-10% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa are thought to be covered by pension funds and 80% in North Africa. Pension funds are still tiny in comparison to gross domestic product (GDP), which in turn is growing fast in many African countries – for example pension funds are about 5% of GDP in Nigeria, compared to 170% of GDP in Netherlands, 131% in UK and 113% in America.

Southern Africa is generally better served: Namibia has some $10bn in pension assets representing 80% of GDP and Botswana $6bn or 42% of GDP. The biggest pension schemes are usually government and social-security funds as well as local government and parastatal funds (such as Eskom in South Africa), as well as those of big corporations and multinationals.

Economist Charles Robertson of Renaissance Capital says conservatively that pension funds in the 6 largest sub-Saharan African markets will grow to $622bn in assets by 2020 and to $7.3 trillion by 2050.

What to invest in?

The challenge is how to invest the capital productively. Are Africa’s entrepreneurs, corporate finance and investment banking houses and capital markets rising to the challenge of bringing a a strong pipeline of investment-ready projects to keep up demand for capital?

Capital markets need to offer liquidity and transparency both to channel the foreign capital looking for African growth opportunities for their portfolios and now for domestic funds too. Liquidity can be a key problem, even in Africa’s world-beating Johannesburg Stock Exchange, where the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) is thought to account for 13% of market capitalization and to be the country’s biggest investor in commercial property.

Big funds in small other Southern African capital market swamps can be like hungry hippos, snapping up promising new investments as they surface. Even if they feel satisfied from a good run of success on some of these investments, they can hardly disgorge them back into the liquidity pool for other traders because of the gnawing fear they would not find other local investments to fill their bulging portfolios.

Others share the worry. Eyamba Nzekwu of Nigeria’s Pencom was reported as saying: “Savings are growing much faster than products are being brought to the market to absorb these funds”. Pension fund growth is thought to have contributed to a 79% surge in Ghana stock market in 2013 as funds chased too few investments.

Regulators should encourage the fund-managers to upgrade skills fast to be more proactive in picking and trading stocks and African fixed income. They should also widen the space in the interests of helping the markets and the funds to grow through liquidity. This means, for instance instance, urgently relooking restrictions on cross-border investments, including into other African markets.

Private equity and infrastructure

The pension funds provide a huge opportunity for alternative assets, especially private equity. According to research by the African Development Bank’s Making Finance Work for Africa and the Commonwealth Secretariat, African pension funds are estimated to have invested some $3.8bn-$5.7bn in private equity and to have scope to invest another $29bn (see table below). Many countries are passing new regulations to allow investment into private equity and other unlisted investments. Funds have been experimenting – sometimes disastrously – with small and medium enterprise and other developmental investments.

table50313_pensions

International private equity fund managers such as Helios and LeapFrog have also seen the future, making investment in pension fund providers – Helios took equity in Nigeria’s ARM Pension Fund Managers and LeapFrog into Ghana’s Petra Trust.

Africa has huge need for infrastructure finance and pension funds could be the ideal pool of patient capital but more work needs to be done to increase the supply of investable projects and to increase capacity of pension funds to invest in projects directly or through infrastructure fund managers.

Savings are good for growth, provided there are productive assets for them to go into. Africa’s savings are rising, often driven by regulation, and international interest has been strong for years. Can Africa’s entrepreneurs, their advisors, private equity funds and the capital markets institutions rise to the challenge of building a big enough pipeline of great investment opportunities suited to the needs of these investors?

For more reading:
This article is heavily based on work by: Ashiagbor, David, Nadiya Satyamurthy, Mike Casey and Joevas Asare (2014). “Pension Funds and Private Equity: Unlocking Africa’s Potential”. Making Finance Work for Africa, Emerging Markets Private Equity Association. London. Commonwealth Secretariat. Available through MFW4A.
Another book is by Robertson, Charles (2012). “The Fastest Billion: The Story Behind Africa’s Economic Revolution”. Renaissance Capital. Read more here or buy it on Amazon (link brings revenue to this site).
Other articles are at The Economist on Nigeria’s pensions, African Business and Wall Street Journal.

Safeguarding investments – custody banks spur growth of African capital markets

Fast-rising inflows of investment capital to the African markets are spurring an increase in the banks offering custody services. But global players are held back by differences in infrastructure and legal structure in the different markets and the need to reach economies of scale in a low-margin business.
Custodians are responsible for safe-keeping assets. For instance, if a global fund manager wants to invest in different African markets, it might appoint a bank to keep its local holdings of equities or bonds registered in the name of the bank’s local nominee company and to ensure that all is correctly registered and administered including purchases and sales, dividends, voting rights and other actions. They are essential to the progress of institutional investors into Africa.
According to a excellent article by experienced journalist Liz Salecka for FinancialNews.com, the custodians that dominate are “the two pan-African banks”. She writes that demand for custody services is growing fast driven by two factors:
• international institutional investors flocking to take advantage of the region’s growth prospects.
• the rise of pension and unit trust investments as investors grow wealthier and domestic savings institutions increase.
Standard Chartered Bank says capital inflows to sub-Saharan Africa grew 4 times from $13.2 billion in 2003 to $48.3bn in 2012. They are hunting equity, fixed-income and money-market investments in markets such as Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Mauritius, Tanzania and Zambia. The article quotes Hari Chaitanya, regional head, investor and intermediaries, Africa, transaction banking at Standard Chartered Bank: “Portfolio equity investment in the region is focused on the most active and liquid stock markets in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius and Zimbabwe, which the Johannesburg Stock Exchange continues to dominate, accounting for 83% of total market capitalisation in the region in 2012.” He added that, although South Africa will continue to dominate in terms of size, the fastest growth is in other countries. Several African countries are among the fastest growing in the world, with GDP growth rates experienced and foreseen of over 7% a year.
She also quotes Mark Kerns, head of investor services at Standard Bank as saying international investor demand will spur capital markets development: He added: “Domestic demand is also growing as a result of insurance expansion, growth in retail savings and increased pension fund investment in unit trusts and other vehicles as pension systems develop. This, supported by the emergence of a middle class, is further driving stock market growth.”

Who are the African custodians?
Standard Bank, the bank with the biggest operation in African markets, offers custody services in 15 sub-Saharan markets. Standard Chartered Bank, which launched a custodian services business in 7 African markets in 2010 after buying Barclays Bank’s custody business in Africa, has since expanded its network to 11 markets since then.
Global bank Barclays used to have a African custody operation but in line with the rest of its confused Africa strategy decided to sell that off in 2010 to Standard Chartered, according to a 2010 press release. Earlier this year, Standard Chartered also entered into an agreement with South Africa’s Absa Bank (also part of Barclays) to acquire its custody and trustee business.
According to the article, Standard Chartered and Standard Bank are expanding and introducing new services in a major movement to service foreign and domestic investors.
Newer global custodians entering Africa start in South Africa – Societe Generale in 1991 and Citibank in 2011 – and are expanding into new growth markets.
Writer Salecka cites Andy Duffin, head of sales, emerging markets at Societe Generale Securities Services: “If you look back at custody business in Africa, the bulk of it was focused on the South African market, which generated the most significant revenue in the region. However, there is now growing demand for custody products and services in other markets such as Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya, and it is no longer the view that South Africa will generate the most significant revenues.” He says believes existing providers branching out into new markets will drive market development more than new players entering.
Societe Generale Securities Services started operating in Ghana in June 2013, according to a press release. It offers custody services for Ghanaian equities and bonds, foreign exchange and cash-management services to local and foreign investors, frontier-market funds and other players looking for increased exposure to Ghana. “Clients benefit from the local knowledge and expertise of a dedicated SGSS team located within SG-SSB, a subsidiary of Societe Generale group, which is directly linked to the pan-African integrated services platform developed by SGSS in South Africa. This platform will be deployed in other African countries in due course. SGSS already operates in Tunisia and Morocco and was reported to be talking to authorities in Mauritius about access to the local central securities depository, where it also wants to offer custody services. Societe Generale is predominately a provider of securities services in this region, and has increased staff by nearly 50% since 2007.

Sub-custodians
A key feature of institutional investment and African capital markets development over the last 20 years has been sub-custody service for international custodians who want to offer their clients services in different markets without actually setting up operations in each country. This provides a significant component of Standard Bank’s business.
State Street is a leading example of a bank which offers fund administration services from its South African offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town but relies on a network of sub-custodians across the region to service the needs of its global and regional institutional clients. Its partnership with Standard Bank was instrumental in bringing American-regulated institutional investors into many African markets in the 1990s.
He also believes international banks cannot come into Africa just to do custody business.
According to Rod Ringrow, senior vice-president and head of official institutions for EMEA at State Street: “At the moment we are seeing significant inflows into sub-Saharan Africa from large institutional investors – and the flows from our clients will help determine where we want to be.”

Custody and capital markets development
Salecka writes: “The ability of new competitors to enter sub-Saharan Africa continues to be hindered by the challenge of building sufficient scale to operate profitably in a region characterised by diverse, small markets with different regulations… The scope for new entrants to offer custody services in sub-Saharan Africa is also hindered by the complexities involved in meeting the regulatory requirements of individual markets.” She points out that infrastructure is improving, and says there are now 26 central securities depositories across the region, but they all evolve at different paces and a couple of markets including Zimbabwe and Namibia still use outdated paper settlement. Different national regulatory, tax and capital market practices complicate the provision of standardised services.
She cites Standard Chartered’s Chaitanya who says providing custody services in sub-Saharan Africa should be part of a global bank’s wider strategy for the region. New entrants have to prove that they can provide a regional presence and commit to ongoing investment in technology and other infrastructure: “Apart from South Africa, many markets in Africa are still considered too small by many global custodians to establish a physical presence in the region. Hence, the domestic custody market is dominated by regional and local banks. Custody is about scale because it is not a high-margin business.”
Dirk Kotze, Africa banking advisory leader at Deloitte (in Johannesburg) told her many banks should consider whether the market is big enough for them to operate profitably: “They must also consider who are the dominant players and what they would provide to differentiate themselves. Potential new entrants must also look into whether they have clients from other markets that need services in this new market. In addition to providing basic services, custodian banks must be able to help clients understand and navigate their way through local regulatory market environments, which are evolving in line with broader economic growth.”
Standard Bank’s Kerns said: “Emerging and frontier markets are characterised by a number of challenges including the fact that many of them are still in the developmental phase. New entrants need to obtain a banking licence and be familiar with local regulatory and other infrastructure as well as the social and cultural dynamics of each country.”

Where African capital markets want to step up the involvement of international and domestic institutional investors they need to work to provide harmonized technical and regulatory environments for custodians, including information flows. Whether CSDs will eventually be able to take business from custodians remains to be seen, but for the meantime global custodians are key strategic partners for the development of the institutional investors that drive capital markets development.

Zimbabwe Stock Exchange set to pay off its suspended CEO

According to news reports, the Board of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange is close to negotiating an exit package with CEO Emmanuel Munyukwi, who was suspended in May. Board chairperson Eve Gadzikwa was reported by The Independent’s businessdigest that the board was in the process of concluding negotiations and an announcement is due in the coming week. ZSE operations executive Martin Matanda is acting chief executive.
Munyukwi has been CEO since 2001 but has been a key manager of the ZSE before that and was a valued colleague when this correspondent was running the Namibian Stock Exchange before 2000. The businessdigest suggests that although Munyukwi had been suspended on charges of alleged incompetence, currently the Board was negotiating an exit package with him and a figure of US$1 million was mentioned. Tony Barfoot, the previous CEO of the ZSE, was reportedly removed as consultant in April 2012, according to a report in Newsday.
There is no news on who will be the new head of the ZSE. It is possible that a potential candidate will be sought among Zimbabweans with experience of working in an automated and advanced securities exchange.
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Zimbabwe is reportedly working with the ZSE, introducing a central securities depository and electronic trading, with plans to automate the ZSE by March 2013, according to the news reports. One report says that SECZ has contracted a private company to develop a framework for establishing an electronic securities trading platform. State-owned ZB Financial Holdings has 13% of the CSD, National Social Security Authority 13% and Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe 10%, according to a shareholding agreement. The Expression of Interest tender for the CSD was published in 2010.
SECZ is also working with the ZSE on demutualization, although the ZSE is a private company more structural transformation may be possible. The tender for the advisory work on “ZSE Privatization” had a closing date of either March or September 2012, but the bidder was supposed to find their own funding for the work.
The Securities Act was amended in August 2012 to make SECZ more effective, extend its powers and give more protection to investors. This requires all securities exchanges in Zimbabwe to be companies, not mutual associations or other corporate bodies. There is a single Investor Protection Fund and the SECZ takes over regulation of asset managers and managers of collective investment schemes from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. The CEO of the SECZ is Tafadzwa Chinamo.
Listings Executive Lina Mushanguri also told businessdigest that the ZSE is drafting a framework to set up a board for small and medium enterprises as part of the ZSE, which she said they would call it the “SMEs Stock Exchange”. This will have adjusted rules and regulations. The newspaper reports that income for the ZSE “last year” was $1.6m and expenses were $1.0 million, giving a surplus of $612,947. The ZSE website has been inoperative for many months and the ZSE annual report is not available online.
By 2 November the ZSE market capitalization had climbed back to $4 billion, after being below this for more than a year. It reached a high of nearly $4.3 billion in May-June 2011. Foreign investors contributed 80% of turnover in October, according to a report in the Standard newspaper.

Are capital markets taking a wrong turn? Soul-searching on short-termism after UK’s Kay Review

Lots of useful commentary is published this week about what’s going wrong with the world’s leading capital markets and finance. This new bout of soul-searching follows the publication of Prof John Kay’s “The Kay Review of UK Equity Markets and Long-Term Decision Making” on 23 July and available here (and the Interim Report, published in February, with much of the evidence is available here.
The Prof says that equity markets are not working as effectively as they could. “We conclude that short-termism is a problem in UK equity markets, and that the principal causes are the decline of trust and the misalignment of incentives throughout the equity investment chain”. He says that successful financial intermediation depends on: “Trust and confidence are the product of long-term commercial and personal relationships: trust and confidence are not generally created by trading between anonymous agents attempting to make short term gains at each other’s expense.”
He blames the prevailing culture and says that people don’t only work for financial incentives, as widely promoted in current City culture – “Most people have more complex goals, but they generally behave in line with the values and aspirations of the environment in which they find themselves.” Prof Kay puts forward a series of 17 recommendations on how to make things better and this could be useful reading for anyone involved in developing capital markets with an aiming to help grow savings and create better performing businesses. This includes fiduciary standards of care if you manage other peoples’ money, diminishing the current role of trading and transactional cultures, high-level statements of good practice, improving the interactions of asset managers and other investors with investee companies, and tackling misaligned incentives in remuneration, and reducing pressures for short-term decision making. The Guardian newspaper’s Nils Pratley has a useful summary of some of the best recommendations here, ironically coupled with a beautiful rosy photograph of the City!
One background comment is by Evening Standard columnist Anthony Hilton here. He says “The behaviours that led Deputy Governor of the Bank of England Paul Tucker to use the word “cesspool” when giving evidence to the Treasury Select Committee on Libor come in a straight line from the reforms imposed on the Stock Exchange by the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1986 when she forced it to open up membership to all comers, and in particular to abolish single capacity — the arrangement under which firms had to confine themselves to a single activity in which they acted for themselves or for the client, but not both… From being a servant of the real economy, finance began its journey towards becoming an end in itself, with deals done not because they had economic rationale but because they made money for bankers and costs, both direct and indirect, that impose a colossal and unnecessary burden on that real economy.” He adds that this kept the system honest “or rather it was dishonest in a less poisonous way. Until Big Bang, the problems came from dishonest people working in honest firms; today the problems are caused by honest people working in dishonest firms. The culture is rotten.” This brought world-beating businesses low “by policies designed to pander to the stock market rather than secure the businesses’ long-term future for its customers, employees and indeed the country.” He says the rewards of finance should belong to customers, not their advisers.
Kay also notes that index investing, as growing popular in some African markets with the rise of ETF (exchange-traded funds) and other derivatives, may not represent a strategy for representative returns, see this Financial Times summary. He also urges less securities lending.
Most of the leading commentators though conclude that the view is rather rose-tinted, and not in touch with the real world. The Financial Times Lex Column says (unfortunately this link may be subscribers only, but you did not miss much if you don’t find a way around): “Dig a little deeper though and this vision – which includes an attack on the efficient markets hypothesis – is flawed”. It says although investors should engage more with companies a falling share price is better incentive for a manager to perform well than a phonecall and that quarterly reporting helps people see what’s going on and reduces insider trading. It points to the UK’s “shareholder spring” in which investors forced change at companies such as Aviva and AstraZeneca. Another Financial Times summary of reaction is that Kay is “no silver bullet” and while people may agree with his views “some.. may prove challenging to implement in practice”. Some recommendations can be implemented by the industry, including investors’ forums for collective long-term engagement and good stewardship, others such as calls for asset managers to disclose all costs, including transaction costs and performance fees charged to funds, may be carried out voluntarily. Only a few may be carried out through legislation, and many others (apart from Lex) support removal of obligations for quarterly reporting and argue that managers’ time could be better spent elsewhere.
It’s a week of interesting reading for people, including many in Africa, building capital markets that are meant to serve economies, the creation of business growth and jobs, and also to encourage more long-term savings.
Discussion is very welcome!

Africa could repeat China’s long growth story– Renaissance CIO

“Africa reminds me of China back in 1999. If you missed China then, don’t do that (miss Africa) now,” is how Plamen Monovski, chief investment officer at Russia’s Renaissance Asset Managers, describes prospects for Africa. “It’s the last place in the world that is due for that rapid change and advancement.”
He was speaking in an interview with Reuters on 2 Dec. He said investors looking at China will find assets already “very discovered” and more expensive. He said African equities were trading at “exceptionally cheap” levels, while Chinese demand for natural resources and Chinese investments are boosting African business.
“The real appeal of Africa is the rise of the consumer society. Africa has got a population the size of India and consumer force as big as India,” he said. Renaissance is backing Africa’s infrastructure, consumer-related and financial sectors, as these will gain from growing prosperity within Africa, rather than commodities which depend on external growth.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in October said it expects 6% growth for sub-Saharan Africa in 2012, up from 5% in 2011. It is positive about the outlook because of growth in mining and other areas. Africa is seeing new entrants and efforts by the world’s largest banks and corporate, including large funds
Monovski helps manage $2.5 billion of assets. Renaissance’s funds include a sub-Saharan fund which has fallen about 17% since it was launched in October 2010 as investors pull out of risky assets in the current crisis. The fund includes South Africa’s teleco MTN Group and Nigeria’s Zenith Bank Plc among its top holdings. He joined the fund management arm of Russia’s Renaissance Capital from Blackrock last year.
He also said China will grow and will not have a “hard landing” of strong correction in the current crisis, but much growth is already priced into Chinese equities: “We want to look at other regions in the world which looked like China in the late 90s.”

Mobius blogs on why he likes Africa

From the blog of Mark Mobius of Templeton Investments:
“While Africa does have challenges, I am encouraged by another side of Africa that is gradually emerging with the development of capital markets, consumerism and technology.
I believe the opportunities for the development of Africa’s markets are appealing primarily because of the strong growth numbers now emerging out of the continent.
Africa is expected to grow more than 7% annually in the next 20 years, due to an improving investment environment, better economic management and China’s rising demand for Africa’s resources. More than 100 African companies have revenues in excess of $1 billion. Africa also has impressive stores of resources, not only in minerals but also in food — 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land is found in Africa. As global demand for hard and soft commodities continues to grow, I believe Africa is in an enviable position with its vast natural resources. The potential for long-term growth in consumer-related areas is also very attractive, with around 1 billion inhabitants on the African continent. These are people, just like many others all over the world, with aspirations to own their own homes and buy possessions such as cars, refrigerators, washing machines and the like.
Within Africa, Nigeria is one of the frontier markets that I like. The country has a population of about 155 million people. It is rich in oil and gas reserves and raw materials such as iron ore, coal and bauxite. In addition, its climate and large areas of fertile land lend themselves favorably to agriculture. Nigeria’s economy has benefited from strong commodity prices; it is estimated to have grown 7.4% in 2010 and is forecasted to grow 7.4% again in 2011. The highly-anticipated Nigerian presidential election may be seen by many as a measure of the country’s progress and stability despite the clashes and unrest running up to the election. Our local sources remain confident about the elections overall and are not expecting any significant derailing event. We share this sentiment for the most part, given the current positive economic environment, fueled by high oil prices, as well as more tangible reforms in the country. Moreover, banks in Nigeria are particularly interesting. In our view, the government’s recent bailout of banks has made the nation’s bank stocks cheap, creating some very interesting investment opportunities.
I also see a lot of potential in markets such as Ghana and Kenya. Ghana was the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain independence. Although it endured an extended period of military rule, a new constitution and multi-party politics were introduced in 1992. Currently, Ghana is seen by many as one of the most politically stable democracies in sub-Saharan Africa. We are excited about the prospects for consumer-related sectors in this market, given its relatively young and dynamic population of more than 20 million. The country is also rich in natural resources such as oil and gold. Oil production in the offshore Jubilee field commenced in December 2010 and is likely to make a significant contribution to the country’s economic growth going forward. Of course, related investment in infrastructure is also likely to require financing, so we are looking closely at the financial sector as well.
The Kenyan economy appears to be doing well at the moment. The post-election violence in late 2007 and early 2008 took many by surprise, but it culminated in the establishment of a coalition government and the adoption of a new constitution in 2010, creating a solid foundation for future stability and growth. Kenya’s position on the east coast of Africa allows it to act as a hub for trade and investment flows from the east into the rest of the continent. Exports, predominantly tea and horticultural products, have recovered strongly, and the tourism sector is also seeing a strong rebound in the form of incoming foreigners.
There are also many challenges to investing in Africa.”