Archive for the 'Banks' Category
July 22nd, 2016 by Tom Minney
Africa’s leading financial institution, the African Development Bank (AfDB), is pairing with the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA) to deepen and connect Africa’s financial markets. The partnership aims to help mobilize more resources to drive growth.
The two will work on projects of mutual interest such as developing financial-markets infrastructure, introducing new products, improving market liquidity and participation, information-sharing and capacity-building. AfDB and ASEA signed a 5-year memorandum of understanding on 11 July. This provides “a collaborative framework for harmonizing and coordinating the efforts”, according to an AfDB press release.
The Bank and ASEA have already started successfully collaborating on the African Exchanges Linkage Project, which they co-initiated to improve liquidity and foster greater investments and trading across markets. This aims to link key regional markets and has proposed Casablanca, Johannesburg, Nairobi and Nigerian stock exchanges as regional hubs, according to project documents.
AfDB and ASEA Executive Committee delegation. (From left to right) Stefan Nalletamby (Vice-President for infrastructure, regional integration and private sector AfDB), Geoffrey Odundo (CEO of Nairobi Securities Exchange), Oscar Onyema OON (CEO of Nigerian Stock Exchange), Akinwumi A. Adesina (President of AfDB), Karim Hajji (CEO of Casablanca Stock Exchange), Edoh Kossi Amenounve (CEO of BRVM) Photo: AfDB
AfDB President, Akinwumi A. Adesina says deepening and integrating Africa’s financial markets to mobilize domestic resources to fund African economies is very important to deliver the Bank’s “High 5s” priorities: Light up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve the Quality of Life of Africans (all part of the bank’s 2030 agenda for attaining the global Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs).
He says there are huge pools of capital available in sovereign-wealth, pensions and insurance funds and these can be used for developing Africa through appropriate intermediation and capital-markets products. He called for “increased mobilization of domestic pools of savings and support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as they constitute the bulk of Africa’s private sector.”
Adesina pointed to the bank’s progress in financial markets development through issuing and listing local-currency bonds in Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa. The bank has also created African Financial Markets Initiative (AFMI) to support domestic bond markets through the African Financial Markets Database. The bank will soon launch an African Domestic Bond Fund building on the success of the AFDB Bloomberg® African Bond Index, which started in February 2015 to combine the Bloomberg South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria and Kenya local-currency sovereign indices and was expanded in October 2015 by Botswana and Namibia..
ASEA President, Oscar N. Onyema, CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, says the MoU will frame projects focused on the development of exchanges, deepening the stock markets and ultimately fueling African economic growth.
May 26th, 2016 by Tom Minney
Cameroon is a big winner at this year’s African Banker Awards, the 10th edition. The winners were announced yesterday (25th May) in Lusaka. Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank, active in 20 countries, wins the prestigious Bank of the Year Award and GT Bank CEO Segun Agbaje is recognized as Africa’s Banker of the Year for his leadership of the Nigerian banking giant, one of Africa’s most profitable banks.
African Banker Awards have become the pre-eminent ceremony recognising excellence in African banking. They are held on the fringes of the annual meetings of the African Development Bank. Your editor is proud to be among the judges and can comment on the excellence of the many submissions from great banks all over Africa.
For the first time, two Cameroonians feature among the laureates: Alamine Ousmane Mey wins Minister of Finance category or his contribution to socio-economic development in his country. Leading banker and economist Paul Fokam, President of the Afriland First Group, is awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award; he is a serial entrepreneur, a renowned economist and his bank is one of the more important institutions in Central Africa. Cameroon scored a hat trick as Lazard’s credit-enhanced currency swap won the award for “Deal of the Year – Debt”.
Other winners include South Africa’s Daniel Matjila, CEO of South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation, a fund with $139bn funds under management. He was awarded the African Banker Icon, recognising the significant investments by the fund into African corporations and the lead role he has played in driving investment from South Africa into the continent.
The African Central Bank Governor of the Year accolade was given to Kenya’s Patrick Njoroge. Kenya’s central bank, largely unknown a year ago, has managed to navigate a tough economic climate and Patrick has been credited with cleaning up the banking sector in his country.
Speaking at the exclusive Gala Dinner at the Intercontinental Hotel attended by over 400 financiers, business leaders, and influential personalities and policy makers, Omar Ben Yedder, Group Publisher of African Banker magazine, which hosts the awards in partnership with BusinessInAfricaEvents said: “It has definitely been a defining decade in banking in Africa. We have recognised true leaders tonight who are playing a critical role in the socio-economic development of the continent.
“Finance remains a key component of development, be it in terms of financing massive infrastructure projects that today are being wholly financed by consortia of African banks, or SME financing. It’s happening because of strong, bold and visionary leadership. I have been privileged to honour some truly exceptional individuals who have left an indelible mark on the industry over the years.
“We are very grateful to our High Patron, the AfDB, for their unwavering support in this initiative and our thanks also go to our sponsors: MasterCard, Ecobank, Nedbank, African Guarantee Fund, PTA Bank, CRDB Bank, Arton Capital and Qatar Airways for partnering with us and enabling us to reward outstanding achievements, commend best practices and celebrate excellence in African banking”.
This year’s judging panel was made up of Koosum Kalyan, Chairman of EdgoMerap Pty Ltd; Zemedeneh Negatu,Managing Partner of Ernst & Young Ethiopia; Tom Minney, Chief Executive of African Growth Partners; Alain le Noir, CEO of Finances Sans Frontières; Christopher Hartland-Peel, Principal at Hartland-Peel Africa Equity Research and Kanika Saigal, Deputy Editor of African Banker Magazine.
THE 2016 AFRICAN BANKER AWARD WINNERS
- Bank of the Year: Attijariwafa Bank (Morocco)
- Banker of the Year: Segun Agbaje – GTBank (Nigeria)
- Minister of Finance of the Year: Alamine Ousmane Mey (Cameroon)
- Central Bank Governor of the Year: Patrick Njoroge (Kenya)
- African Banker Icon: Daniel Matjila, CEO PIC (South Africa)
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Paul Fokam, Founder Afriland First Bank (Cameroon)
- Investment Bank of the Year: Rand Merchant Bank (South Africa)
- Award for Financial Inclusion: Ecobank (Togo)
- Best Retail Bank: BCI (Mozambique)
- Socially Responsible Bank of the Year: Commercial International Bank (Egypt)
- Innovation in Banking: Guaranty Trust Bank (Nigeria)
- Deal of the Year – Equity: Naspers $2.5bn Accelerated Equity Offering (Citi)
- Deal of the Year – Debt: Cameroon’s Currency Swap (Lazard)
- Infrastructure Deal of the Year: Azura – Edo IPP (Fieldstone; Rand Merchant Bank; Standard Bank; IFC)
- Best Regional Bank in North Africa: Commercial International Bank (Egypt)
- Best Regional Bank in West Africa: Banque Atlantique (Côte d’Ivoire)
- Best Regional Bank in Central Africa: BGFI (Gabon)
- Best Regional Bank in East Africa: CRDB Bank (Tanzania)
- Best Regional Bank in Southern Africa: MCB (Mauritius)
For more on the African Banker Awards, please visit: http://ic-events.net/.
April 22nd, 2016 by Tom Minney
This story is not strictly capital markets, but a useful cautionary tale
REUTERS, 21 APRIL 2016
Bangladesh’s central bank was vulnerable to hackers because it did not have a firewall and used second-hand, $10 switches to network computers connected to the SWIFT global payment network, an investigator into one of the world’s biggest cyber heists said.
The shortcomings made it easier for hackers to break into the Bangladesh Bank system earlier this year and attempt to siphon off nearly $1 billion using the bank’s SWIFT credentials, said Mohammad Shah Alam, head of the Forensic Training Institute of the Bangladesh police’s criminal investigation department.
“It could be difficult to hack if there was a firewall,” Alam said in an interview.
The lack of sophisticated switches, which can cost several hundred dollars or more, also means it is difficult for investigators to figure out what the hackers did and where they might have been based, he added.
Experts in bank security said that the findings described by Alam were disturbing.
“You are talking about an organization that has access to billions of dollars and they are not taking even the most basic security precautions,” said Jeff Wichman, a consultant with cyber firm Optiv.
Tom Kellermann, a former member of the World Bank security team, said that the security shortcomings described by Alam were “egregious,” and that he believed there were “a handful” of central banks in developing countries that were equally insecure.
Kellermann, now chief executive of investment firm Strategic Cyber Ventures LLC, said that some banks fail to adequately protect their networks because they focus security budgets on physically defending their facilities.
Police blame bank, SWIFT
Cyber criminals broke into Bangladesh Bank’s system and in early February tried to make fraudulent transfers totaling $951 million from its account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Most of the payments were blocked, but $81 million was routed to accounts in the Philippines and diverted to casinos there. Most of those funds remain missing.
The police believe that both the bank and SWIFT should take the blame for the oversight, Alam said in an interview.
“It was their responsibility to point it out but we haven’t found any evidence that they advised before the heist,” he said, referring to SWIFT.
A spokeswoman for Brussels-based SWIFT declined comment.
SWIFT has previously said the attack was related to an internal operational issue at Bangladesh Bank and that SWIFT’s core messaging services were not compromised.
A spokesman for Bangladesh Bank said SWIFT officials advised the bank to upgrade the switches only when their system engineers from Malaysia visited after the heist.
“There might have been a deficiency in the system in the SWIFT room,” said the spokesman, Subhankar Saha, confirming that the switch was old and needed to be upgraded.
“Two (SWIFT) engineers came and visited the bank after the heist and suggested to upgrade the system,” Saha said.
The heist’s masterminds have yet to be identified.
Bangladesh police said earlier this week they had identified 20 foreigners involved in the heist but they appear to be people who received some of the payments, rather than those who initially stole the money.
Bangladesh Bank has about 5,000 computers used by officials in different departments, Alam said.
The SWIFT room is roughly 12 feet by 8 feet, a window-less office located on the eight floor of the bank’s annex building in Dhaka. There are four servers and four monitors in the room.
All transactions from the previous day are automatically printed on a printer in the room.
The SWIFT facility should have been walled off from the rest of the network. That could have been done if the bank had used the more expensive, “managed” switches, which allow engineers to create separate networks, said Alam, whose institute includes a cyber-crime division.
Moreover, considering the importance of the room, the bank should have deployed staff to monitor activity round the clock, including weekends and holidays, he said.
(Additional reporting by Jim Finkle in BOSTON; Editing by Paritosh Bansal, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Alan Crosby).
$81m to Manila casinos
If you want to read more about how the missing $81m ended up in casinos and with junket operators in the Philippines, brought in by 2 Chinese residents of Manila and Beijing, Fortune takes up the story.
Photo credit: www.dhakatribune.com
January 15th, 2016 by Tom Minney
Rwanda Stock Exchange
Rwanda Stock Exchange, credit New Times.
The Rwanda Stock Exchange
is expecting 3 initial public offers IPOs of shares in the coming months, which will bring the total number of equities listed for trading to 10. No details were disclosed, but the East African
the 3 are among the most profitable in their sectors. Pierre Celestin Rwabukumba, bourse CEO, told Bloomberg
: “We expect three initial public offerings this year. Due to disclosure restrictions I cannot tell you which ones.”
The East African
’s Kabona Esiara wrote: “They are a bank where a principal investor is liquidating interests in order to venture into other businesses and a transport company that is seeking to fund acquisition of a modern fleet. A third company involved in logistics is looking for expansion capital. The latter two are classified as small and medium enterprises (SMEs).” The IPOs are said to be at an advanced stage, with the prospectuses going through Capital Markets Authority checks before roadshows in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda begin.”
Davis Gatharaa, managing director at Baraka Capital
was reported saying: “2016 should witness increased market capitalisation, liquidity and turnover largely driven by new listings. We believe the Rwanda Stock Exchange offers a bargain hunting ground for foreign investors helped by a very strong dollar.”
IPOs on the RSE previously were Crystal Telecom (owns 20% of MTN Rwandacell) in July 2015, Bank of Kigali in 2014 and beverages firm (brewer) Bralirwa in 2011, launching the equity market. I&M Bank had issued a corporate bond in 2008. RSE statistics showed RWF34 billion ($45.5 million) in trading from January to November 2015. Market capitalization was RWF2.82 trillion ($3.75bn).
The market saw declines with the Rwanda Share Index down 21% but the All Share Index was down 3.9%. and the paper reports that analysts do not expect strong performance this year. Robert Mathu, CEO of the Capital Market Authority
regulator, was reported saying: “Weak global commodity prices weakened the economic outlook for most of sub-Saharan Africa. Coupled with the currency bleeding that was experienced by most of these African countries, this led investors to adopt a wait-and-see approach on African stockmarket prices.”
When the bourse was launched the Capital Market Advisory Council said in 2011 that government planned to offer shares in 6 companies on the domestic exchange, including Commercial Bank of Rwanda, now known as I&M Bank Rwanda, and Sonarwa Insurance. The New Times
newspaper reported in April 2015 the government is planning an initial public offering of its 19.8% stake in the Rwandan unit of Nairobi-based I&M Holdings Ltd.
In a report
Rwakumba said the bourse is targeting new retail investors: “ We are focusing a lot on the demand side with specific attention on retail investors. We are increasingly getting more and more new investors; in 2015 we had a surge of new investors of 19.2%. We are to keep building on this momentum to entice new investment so that we don’t face challenges in supply and demand sides.”
May 29th, 2015 by Tom Minney
All the winners with Omar Ben Yedder (source – IC Publications)
Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 African Banker Awards announced in Abidjan on 27 May. It is always a privilege to be a judge and I am very impressed with so many of the excellent business ventures and projects, including billion-dollar infrastructure plans and connectivity for tens of millions of Africans. Competition is very hot and all of the short-listed entries for this year’s ninth awards were excellent.
Morocco’s Groupe Banque Populaire triumphs as 2015 African Bank of the Year and Ghana’s Albert Essien, Group CEO of Ecobank, wins the award for African Banker of the Year. Tidjane Thiam, from Cote d’Ivoire and the first African CEO of a FTSE100 company, wins the African Banker Icon award and Nigeria’s Jim Ovia, Chairman of best-performing Zenith Bank wins the Lifetime Achievement category.
Groupe Banque Populaire has recently taken a major stake in West African group Banque Atlantique and helped to turn around its performance significantly. Essien inherited a bank in a precarious position last year, but has managed to steady the ship and bring in some important shareholders to strengthen Ecobank’s capital base. Thiam is the CEO of Prudential insurance and shortly to become CEO of bank Credit Suisse.
The awards were hosted by African Banker magazine at a gala dinner in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, with over 500 people there including Ministers, Central Bank Governors and the CEOs of some of Africa’s leading Banks and financial institutions.
Here is the full list of winners:
African Bank of the Year
Groupe Banque Populaire – Morocco
African Banker of the Year
Albert Essien, Group CEO Ecobank (ETI)
Lifetime Achievement Award
Jim Ovia Chairman, Zenith Bank – Nigeria
Finance Minister of the Year
Hon. Claver Gatete – Rwanda
Central Bank Governor of the Year
Prof Njuguna Ndung’u – Kenya
African Banker Icon
Tidjane Thiam, former Finance Minister of Cote d’Ivoire and CEO of Prudential
Best Regional Banks in Africa
Best Bank in North Africa
Attijariwafa Bank – Morocco
Best Bank in West Africa
Best Bank in Central Africa
Groupe BGFI Bank – Gabon
Best Bank in East Africa
Bank of Kigali – Rwanda
Best Bank in Southern Africa
Banco de Comercio e Investimentos – Mozambique
Best Retail Bank in Africa
Standard Bank – South Africa
Investment Bank of the Year
Rand Merchant Bank – South Africa
Award for Innovation in Banking
Millennium BIM – Mozambique
Socially Responsible Bank of the Year
BMCE Bank – Morocco
Award for Financial Inclusion
Fondation Attawfik – Morocco
Deal of the Year – Equity
Seplat IPO, Standard Bank
Deal of the Year – Debt
$850m Commercial and ECA Backed Financing Package for the Ethiopian Railways Corporation, Credit Suisse
Trade Finance Deal of the Year
$1.3bn Petroleum Export Limited Syndicated Pre-export Facility, Commercial International Bank (CIB) – Egypt
Infrastructure Deal of the Year
CENPOWER – KPONE IPP, Africa Finance Corporation – Nigeria
Best Islamic Finance Initiative
Senegal Sukuk, Citi and ICD
MasterCard International supported the event and MasterCard Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Daniel Monehin said: “We believe that the African Banker Awards understands precisely what excellence in banking means – one only has to consider the Award winners and nominees tonight. This is why we are proud to support these Awards, where we recognize and commemorate our banking colleagues who have, in the last year, provided us with outstanding examples of progress towards our shared goal of banking excellence.” Ecobank/Nedbank, Banque Internationale pour l’Afrique au Congo (BIAC), Banque Altantique, Groupe Banque Centrale Populaire, GT Bank and Coris Bank International also supported the Awards, along with ECAir, Sopra Banking Software and Travelex.
Omar Ben Yedder, Publisher of African Banker thanked the sponsors and the judging panel which this year included Ade Adebajo, Consultant, Debt Capital Markets – Africa; Koosum Kalyan, Chairman, EdgoMerap Pty Ltd; Tom Minney, Editor, African Capital Markets News & African Growth Partners Ltd; Alain le Noir, CEO – Finances Sans Frontières; Zemedeneh Negatu, Managing Partner – Ernst & Young Ethiopia; Michel Losembe, President – Congolese Association of Banks; Paul Derreumaux Honorary President – Bank of Africa Group and Christopher Hartland – Peel, Principal – Hartland-Peel Africa Equity Research.
Ben Yedder said “We have a fantastic crop of winners once again and they are widespread in terms of countries. East Africa won two coveted awards: the Minister of Finance and Central Bank Governor categories for Rwanda and Kenya, respectively. Morocco had a strong showing with four awards. Mozambique did well winning two awards in the most innovative bank and best bank in Southern Africa categories. It is great to see banks and financiers rise to the challenge to keep innovating and having a positive impact on Africa’s growth. The growth story will depend on a strong and resilient banking system, one that is both bold and responsible. We see plenty of these qualities amongst our winners tonight.”
July 17th, 2014 by Tom Minney
Report cover by the Overseas Development Institute.
On average Africans are paying on average 12% ($25) to send $200 home, which is twice as much as the global average. According to UK thinktank Overseas Development Institute (ODI
): “The global community pledged to cut remittance charges to 5% by 2014, yet this ‘super tax’ shows there is a long way to go. Our report urges governments to increase competition in money transfer remittances and to establish greater transparency on how fees are set by all market operators.”
In addition, many African businesses are finding it harder to get access to banking services as banks are tending to shy away from countries where they see more risk and less profits, after a couple of years of massive fines by US regulators on global banks for their global operations. This means that there are less routes to send money to Africa, last year there was a fight to keep the last legitimate banking payment lifeline to Somalia, offered by Barclays, open. Cutting this would have ended many transfers including remittances and aid.
According to a story in Business Day of 16 July, the World Bank, Group of Eight (G-8) and Group of Twenty want the price charged by banks and money transfer operators to send remittances to and from Africa, as well as within the continent, reduced to the G-8 target of 5%, from the average 12.4%. It says that payments technology company Visa is working closely with South Africa’s banks and retailers to open more corridors for consumers to send remittances more cheaply.
ODI said 2 money transfer operators — Western Union and MoneyGram — account for two-thirds of remittance transfers. Remittance prices are even higher between African countries, according to the World Bank.
According to the Business Day report Visa has launched a programme “at a ‘tenth of the price of the traditional players’ using its network connecting banks across 200 countries, to send money from one Visa card to another, Visa sub-Saharan Africa head Mandy Lamb said in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
“Consumers can send money via cellphones, a bank branch, an ATM, internet banking or a point of sale machine at a retailer, in real time. Equity Bank in Kenya was the first sub-Saharan bank to launch the programme last year.
“Visa is certifying some banks and retailers in South Africa to allow them to offer remittances. Some are to start the service between now and the end of year, said Ms Lamb.
“‘In South Africa we have seen a great interest in banks wanting to offer remittance as they have seen the business case … it is lucrative for them and meets the World Bank requirements in terms of bringing down the costs of remittance,’ she said.
“Retailers are also interested in sending and receiving remittances as they have realised it is ‘commercially viable for the lower end of the economy’, said Ms Lamb.
“Visa research estimates that around $73bn was sent via money transfers in sub-Saharan Africa in 2012 and this would grow at double-digit rates to $101bn by 2017.
“This is a substantial opportunity for Visa which benefits from remittance flows, disbursement flows and prepaid cards in the market. By 2017, Nigeria would account for $55.8bn in remittances, Kenya $27.5bn and SA $17.6bn, according to Visa.
“Remittances sent from outside Africa would be the fastest-growing market, expected to amount to $38bn by 2017 — or 27% of the total remittance market. This would be an increase from $19bn in 2012 when this category made up 20% of the total remittance market.”
May 28th, 2014 by Tom Minney
African Banker Awards 2014 (credit IC Publications)
Women triumphed at this year’s African Banker Awards 2014: Vivienne Yeda, Director General of the East African Development Bank, scooped the award for African Banker of the Year; Linah Mohohlo of the Bank of Botswana was named Central Bank Governor of the Year; and Elizabeth Mary Oleko, chairperson of the Kenya Women Finance Trust, scored the Lifetime Achievement Award.
President of Rwanda HE Paul Kagame received a Special Recognition Award for his leadership and vision. He thanked Rwandans who have sacrificed a much to put Rwanda where it is today: “Rwandans have made me the kind of leader that I am and they have given me the strength that has added up to taking our country forward.” Bob is back, as Bob Diamond the former CEO of Barclays Bank who quit after the bank faced global scandals and fines, was in the deal that was awarded equity deal of the year. Andrew Alli of the African Finance Corporation won African Banker Icon.
This year the judges – I was again privileged to be a judge for some categories – again awarded Nigeria’s GT Bank as African bank of the year. South Africa’s Rand Merchant Bank is investment bank of the year and South Africa’s Nedbank won both an award for innovation in banking and the socially-responsible bank of the year. Mastercard won a well-deserved award for financial inclusion.
Investec Asset Management won fund of the year and State Bank of Mauritius won retail bank of the year. Banque Islamique de Mauritanie won best Islamic finance initiative.
The awards also recognized smaller financial institutions and those pioneering in challenging environments. Trust Merchant Bank, an independent commercial bank operating in DR Congo, won Best Bank in Central Africa. Ecobank Mali won Best Bank in West Africa after Mali successfully transitioned back to its historic democracy after a 2012 coup that crippled the economy. Stanbic Zimbabwe beat tough competition from bigger banks to become Best Bank in Southern Africa, despite challenging economic conditions. Bank of Kigali scored in East Africa and Morocco’s Banque Centrale Populaire in North Africa.
Two landmark deals were rewarded. Citigroup Global Markets won equity deal of the year for helping Bob Diamond, previously of Barclays Bank, in the $325m initial public offer (IPO) of his new investment vehicle, Atlas Mara Co-Nvest. Standard Chartered Bank won debt deal of the year for the $3.3bn finance facility for Dangote Group petrochemical plan, building the continent’s largest refinery, petrochemical and fertilizer plant.
The winners of the 8th African Banker magazine’s African Banker Awards were announced at a prestigious ceremony on 21 May at the Kigali Serena Hotel, linked to the African Development Bank summit. Among the guests were HE Festus Mogae, former President of Botswana, and many ministers of finance and bank CEOs were also present.
Omar Ben Yedder, Publisher of African Banker and IC Publications, commended the achievement by banks: “Here in Kigali.. we have witnessed the transformation of a country. Since we have launched the awards we have witnessed the transformation of an industry. There is no room for complacency because there is much room for growth and development to achieve the transformation we all desire and work towards. But seeing local African banks finance and structure international deals is a step forward and unimaginable a decade back. And I am delighted to see three women pick up three coveted individual awards. Congratulations to them all!”
The African Banker Awards are organized by African Banker magazine and BusinessinAfrica Events (BIAE). It is a landmark event that celebrates excellence and best practices in African banking and finance.
Special Recognition Award: HE President Paul Kagame
Lifetime Achievement Award: Elizabeth Mary Okelo
African Bank of the Year: GTBank
African Banker of the Year: Vivienne Yeda, Director General, East African Development Bank
African Banker Icon: Andrew Alli, CEO, Africa Finance Corporation
Central Bank Governor of the Year: HE Linah Mohohlo, Botswana
Finance Minister of the Year: Hon Armando Manuel, Angola
Investment Bank of the Year: Rand Merchant Bank
Award for Innovation in Banking: Nedbank
Socially Responsible Bank of the Year: Nedbank
Award for Financial Inclusion: MasterCard
Deal of the Year – Equity: Atlas Mara Co-Nvest, Citigroup Global Markets
Deal of the Year – Debt: Financing Facility, Dangote Group Petrochemical Plant, Standard Chartered Bank
Fund of the Year: Investec Asset Management
Best Retail Bank in Africa: State Bank Mauritius
Best Islamic Finance Initiative: Banque Islamique de Mauritanie
Best Bank in North Africa: Banque Centrale Populaire
Best Bank in Southern Africa: Stanbic Zimbabwe
Best Bank in East Africa: Bank of Kigali
Best Bank in West Africa: Ecobank Mali
Best Bank in Central Africa: Trust Merchant Bank
Mortgage Bank of the Year: Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company
May 12th, 2014 by Tom Minney
Ethiopia, Africa’s fifth biggest economy, is thinking of a debut Eurobond, after it received its first international credit ratings on 9 May. With a population of some 90 million it is second-most populous country in Africa, after Nigeria. Growth has been some 10% a year, making it the fastest-growing economy and this growth has been sustained through infrastructure investment rather than resources.
Fitch rating agency assigned a long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Debt Rating (IDR) of “B” with stable outlook. This matches Fitch’s ratings for Kenya and Uganda, according to Reuters. Standard & Poor’s (S&P) assigned “B/B” foreign and local currency ratings and also said the outlook was stable, reflecting the view that strong growth will be maintained over the next year and the current account deficit will not rise.
According to a press release from Fitch: “With an average real GDP growth of 10.9% over the past five years, Ethiopia has outperformed regional peers due to significant public investments in infrastructure as well as growth in the large agricultural and services sectors. Despite a track record of high and volatile inflation, it declined significantly in 2013, reflecting lower food prices and the authorities’ commitment to moderate central bank financing of the government.
“Fitch expects real GDP growth of 9% in 2014 and 8% in 2015. Ethiopia’s growth over the medium-term can be sustained by large, untapped resources, including large hydro-electric potential. However, the private sector’s weakness, reflecting the country’s fairly recent transition to a market economy, and its inadequate access to domestic credit, could limit growth potential over the medium-term as public investment slows.”
According to S&P press release: “The ratings are constrained by Ethiopia’s low GDP per capita, our estimate of large public-sector contingent liabilities, and a lack of monetary policy flexibility. The ratings are supported by strong government effectiveness, which has halved poverty rates over the past decade or so, moderate fiscal debt after debt relief, and moderate external deficits. Ethiopia’s brisk economic growth–far exceeding that of peers–also underpins the ratings.” S&P forecasts GDP growth at 9.1% in 2014, 9.2% in 2015 and 2016 and 9.3% in 2017. IMF estimates in the World Economic Outlook database are lower, at a still very creditable 7.5% for 2014 and 2015 and 7.0% for 2016 and 2017.
“Ethiopia’s economic growth has consistently well outpaced the average for peers in Sub-Saharan Africa, averaging at least 9% real GDP growth over the past decade, partly due to significant government spending in public sector infrastructure. We estimate that real GDP per capita growth will average 6.5% over 2014-2017. The government has primarily invested in transport infrastructure (roads and rail) and energy (power generation through hydro). Agriculture has also been a key growth driver.
“We estimate GDP per capita at a low $630 in 2014. However, strong economic growth has translated into significant poverty reduction and fairly homogeneous wealth levels. According to International Monetary Fund (IMF) data, poverty declined to about 30% in 2011 from 60% in 1995.
According to S&P: “We expect current account deficits to average 6% of GDP over 2014-2017, driven by rising imports of capital goods and fuel. Ethiopia has a services account surplus, predominantly due to Ethiopian Airlines’ revenues, and large current account transfers mostly made up of remittances that we estimate at about 10% of GDP. Over 2014-2017, we project that gross external financing needs should average 118% of current account receipts and reserves.”
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn had told Reuters in October (see also below) that it planned a debut Eurobond once it had secured a credit rating, though he gave no time frame.
The state and state-owned companies continue to dominate the economy and key sectors such as banking, telecoms and retail are closed to foreign ownership, with state monopolies still dominating telecoms, power and other services and state-owned banks still predominant in banking despite many private banks existing. S&P says there could be room for an upgrade “if we saw more transparency on the financial accounts of Ethiopia’s public sector contingent liabilities and their links with the central government. We might also consider a positive rating action if we observed that monetary policy credibility was improving, either through better transmission mechanisms or relaxed foreign exchange restrictions on the current account.”
In December Reuters reported that Ethiopia had hired French investment bank and asset manager Lazard Ltd in a bid to select rating companies and secure its first credit rating
IMF director warns of risks to sustaining growth
In a presentation last November by Jan Mikkelsen, IMF Resident Representative for Ethiopia titled “Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa & Macroeconomic Issues for Ethiopia” he praises solid growth and price stabilization but warns about a large fiscal deficit, an appreciating real exchange rate, declining competitiveness and increasing trade deficit. In his powerpoint presentation, he says there is a “Large fiscal deficit without appropriate financing options. This leads to: large domestic borrowing; crowding out of credit to private sector; risk of debt distress; large exposure of banking system to public enterprises; and inflation concerns. He is concerned about the “Non-functioning FX market, FX shortage, and competitiveness,” as well as “Failure to develop financial sector and markets”. (NOTE: The Ethiopian Government has resisted setting up an organized and regulated securities exchange, even for locals only, and this has led to a plethora of unregulated IPOs and problems for investors). Mikkelsen adds that Ethiopia is “Missing out on private sector dynamics – opening up! Tap into FDI flows!”
He warns that the Growth and Transformation Plan (2009/10-2014/15) had estimated to invest $36 billion in public-sector financing and had achieved $11.2bn of investment in the first 3 years, leaving $22bn to be invested in identified projects in the last two years, which would be 19.7% of GDP, of which 9.9% could be domestic financing and 9.8% external. He pointed out that this meant less credit to the private sector, with banks cutting back their credit growth to non-government and giving 83% of this “non-government” share to state-owned enterprises and only 17% to the private sector.
His policy recommendations included enhancing competitiveness via exchange-rate flexibility and cutting logistic costs for trade, phasing out the forced 27% bill holding restriction on banks by the National Bank of Ethiopia, developing a securities market and making interest rates flexible and that putting the private sector in the driving seat is the only way to create sustainable employment opportunities.
Bloomberg cited Finance Minister Sufian Ahmed in December saying: “The main challenge is investment financing needs. We know it’s huge.” He said funding targets would be met by increased domestic financing and borrowing as much as $1bn a year on non-concessional terms from China, India and Turkey and key projects will also be prioritized, he said. According to that report, the Government planned to spend ETB 105.2bn ($5.5bn) on infrastructure and industry including hydropower dams and sugar plants in the 12 months ended 7 Jul 2014 and ETB 70.7bn in the year to July 2015, according to the GTP that ends in mid-2015.
Ethiopia’s PM explains economic policy
The Reuters interview with Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn gives good insight into the Government’s rationale for maintaining control. It is worth reading. He said other bonds could come from the rating.
The Government aims to move from a largely agrarian economy into manufacturing, including textiles. Hailemariam said this was no time for a change of tack, either by selling monopoly Ethio Telecom or opening up the banking industry – now dominated by 3 state banks – to foreigners. “Why does the government engage in infrastructure development? It is simply to make the private sector competitive because in Africa the lack of infrastructure is the main bottleneck. From where do we get this financing? We get this from government banks,” he said. “We engage ourselves in railway construction simply because we get revenues from telecoms.”
He said neighbouring countries which have opened up their banking industry to foreigners had lost a source of funds. “They have handed over their banks to the private sector and the private sector is not giving them loans for infrastructure development.”
He added that the Government was channelling loans to business, while income for the state from selling licences or taxes could not match Ethio Telecom’s annual revenue of ETB 6bn ($318m).
November 15th, 2013 by Tom Minney
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.
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.
June 12th, 2013 by Tom Minney
Africa’s top lending institution the African Development Bank (AfDB) has announced that it will start moving its headquarters and 1,500 employees from Tunisia to Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), with first staff to move this year. It had abandoned Abidjan in 2003 during the series of civil wars.
This is not news to those paying attention at the AfDB’s annual meetings summit in beautiful Marrakech, Morocco, from 27-31 May. The Boards of Governors of the AfDB and of the African Development Fund (ADF) announced the return of the AfDB to its headquarters in Abidjan.
However, for those of us who were not, the formal press release came out yesterday, and was covered in the Financial Times blog beyondbrics. The bank held about $32.25bn in assets issued loans and grants worth $6.46bn in 2012. Its funding goes to governments and businesses on the continent.
Donald Kaberuka, the AfDB President, said in the press release: “The first group of staff will leave before the end of 2013. The AfDB will celebrate its 50th anniversary in November 2014 in Abidjan”. There had been increasing bank meetings in Abidjan this year and the news was widely anticipated.
According to Borzou Daragahi writing in the FT blog: “The African Development Bank’s move, to begin by the end of the year, delivers a blow to the economy of Tunisia, which is recovering from a 2011 uprising and the ensuing political instability. But it will bolster confidence in Ivory Coast, a sub-Saharan African nation emerging from years of war and political unrest. It marks a milestone in what many analysts see as the resurgence of sub-Saharan Africa in general and the Ivorian commercial centre of Abidjan in particular.”
It quotes an unnamed “development official” in Tunis as saying: “If the bank can survive in Abidjan, it sends a very strong signal that Abidjan is back as the commercial heart and economic centre of west Africa.”
According to the blog the announcement stunned many staff, of which nearly 70% were hired since the move to Tunisia. However, it adds that some bank staff had complained of being treated poorly by locals in Tunis, an Arab country where darker skinned Africans are sometimes regarded as illegal migrants.
According to the press release, the Board of Directors of the AfDB Group had instructed its management during the annual meetings held in Arusha, Tanzania, in 2012 to prepare a “roadmap” (will they drive there? Surely planes are better) for a well-planned and organized return. This should “guarantee the institution’s stability, business continuity, and the well-being of staff and their families”. The AfDB’s Advisory Committee of Governors, meeting in Tokyo, Japan, in October 2012, consented to the roadmap, recommended its approval by the Board of Governors, thus opening the way for the return to Abidjan
Wikipedia describes Abidjan as the largest city in Cote d’Ivoire in 2011 and “third-largest French-speaking city in the world, after Paris and Kinshasa, but before Montreal”. In 2006, national authorities said there were 5,068,858 residents in the metropolitan area and 3,796,677 residents in the municipality, making it second only to Lagos in the region. Although the political capital is Yamoussoukro, Abidjan is the economic capital and also a cultural hub in West Africa, with a lot of industry. It in Ébrié Lagoon, on several converging peninsulas and islands, connected by bridges.