Archive for the 'Cote d’Ivoire' Category

Africa IPO round-up

A roundup of some recent initial public offers (IPOs) of shares on Africa’s stock exchanges to raise capital

In early October, MTN launched plans to sell up to 35% of shares on the Ghana Stock Exchange. Ghana’s Securities and Exchange Commission Director General Adu Anane Antwi confirmed they had started the listing process and were working on the prospectus but no timeline had been given. According to local reports, MTN received its 15-year 4G licence in 2015 after spending $67.5m and on condition that it lists. It hopes to raise up to $500m.
MTN Nigeria is also working on plans for an initial public offer (IPO) of shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 2017 which could raise up to $1bn. Nigeria is among several African governments encouraging telcos to list on local bourses and listing is among conditions to settle a record NGN330bn ($1.1bn) fine for failing to disconnect 5.1m unregistered subscribers. Nigeria contributes a third of sales and profit for the Africa’s biggest phone company, which is listed in Johannesburg with market capitalization of ZAR212.8bn ($15.3bn) in early October.
Listings and capital-raising momentum has been maintained on the Nairobi Securities Exchange. Deacons Kenya is the first listed fashion retailer, after joining the Alternative Investment Market Segment (AIMS) of the NSE on 2 August. CEO Muchiri Wahome said the extra funds were to fund expansion into towns with “a vibrant middle class” across Kenya, spurred Kenya’s rapid and ambitious devolution and setting up 47 counties under its 2010 Constitution. Deacons is also eyeing opportunities in neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda. It will also help existing shareholders who want to sell. The retailer listed about 123m shares at an opening price of KES15 ($0.15) each, but by early October the price had slumped to KES8.55.

 

Nairobi centre (credit www.kenya-advisor.com)

Nairobi centre (credit www.kenya-advisor.com)

In June, leather and shoe retailer Nairobi Business Ventures, which operates the brand KShoe, had become the fifth listing on the NSE’s Growth and Enterprise Market Segment aimed at smaller businesses. It was listed through introduction and valued at KES118m ($1.2m). Previous 2016 share issues included Longhorn Publishers in May. In June power generator Kengen succeeded in the Kenyan bourse’s largest rights issue, raising KES26.4bn ($262.1m) by offering 4.4bn new shares at KES6.55 each, with a 92% subscription rate. Kengen has projects to generate another 700MW of power, of which 605MW is geothermal.
However, Fusion Capital had to cancel its IPO despite extending twice after only getting 38% uptake and four investors for its KES2.3bn offering and failing to meet the minimum threshold.
The Johannesburg Stock Exchange had its second private equity listing. Universal Partners raised R1.3bn ($93.7m) in an IPO which was only open for 4-5 August and started trading on the Alt-X market on 11 August. The company was registered in Mauritius in April and also listed on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius. Its mandate is to invest in properties across Europe, at £10m-£30m ($12m-$37m) each and it aims to start investing within six months. The IPO was for 72m shares at R18.07 each. Several companies aiming to raise capital for African and international investments have dual-listing on the Mauritius and Johannesburg exchanges.
Liberty Holdings is likely to follow up its Kenyan IPO success with a South African Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) called Liberty Two Degrees in December. This will include some ZAR6bn of its existing portfolio, including iconic malls around Gauteng, and ZAR4bn of new money. As in Kenya, the property investments are managed by Stanlib.
West Africa’s integrated regional stock exchange, Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres (BRVM), based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, plans to build a platform for listing mining shares and raising capital locally. The exchange is talking with Canada’s Toronto Stock Exchange (TMX Group), a favourite bourse for early-stage mining entrepreneurs. BRVM General Manager Edoh Kossi Amenounve says it could open by 2018 and will be for companies exploring or operating mines in the region. There is likely to be a waiver to the usual requirement for 2 years of trading history. The BRVM links eight West African countries, including gold exporters Mali, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, and fourth-largest uranium producer, Niger.
Egypt’s Minister of Investment Dalia Korshid says the Government aims to raise up to $10bn over the next three to five years with IPOs of government-owned companies in the oil sector but will start with restructuring state-owned electricity companies.

BRVM securities exchange strategy dialogue with US frontier funds

New York, May 12: Sixteen new listings, spurred by privatizations and private equity fund exits, are a key target for Africa’s top-performing securities exchange. The Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM), headquartered in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, is among the world’s most successful integrated regional exchanges, linking eight West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo).

In New York this week, 30 US frontier investors, stockbrokers and market specialists joined Mr. Edoh Kossi Amenounve, CEO of BRVM, in a strategic dialogue. Suggestions from the Americans included lower stockbroker commissions, more listings, liquidity, and stepping up listed company reporting to international financial reporting standards (IFRS).

The BRVM has 36 listed bonds and 39 listed companies, and expects four new listings in 2016, following initial public offers (IPOs). In 2015, the BRVM Composite Index rose by 17.77% making it Africa’s top-performing equity index to foreign investors.

Amenounve says: “Most of the economies are not badly affected by the oil price. They are growing through regional linkages. We saw 6.6% GDP growth in our markets in 2015 and expect 7.2% this year. BRVM is different from other markets as our currency, the CFA franc, is pegged to the value of the euro. We offer yield, without the high volatility seen in other African markets.”

The value of trading on the BRVM exchange rose 48% in 2015. Amenounve says local participation is growing even faster: “More and more citizens are becoming shareholders, which is the best way for our people to take ownership of our growth drivers and means of production. In 2012 foreign investors made up 55% of the trading, but the local share had risen to 75% by 2015, of much bigger trading volumes. In 2011, domestic collective investment schemes managed XOF 30bn of assets, but by the end of 2015 that was XOF 600bn, a 20-fold increase.”

Amenounve is leading plans to integrate five West African markets – Nigeria, Ghana, BRVM, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone – by 2020 to form Africa’s second biggest exchange after Johannesburg, with 273 listed companies and 233 brokerage firms. He has been Chairman of the West African Capital Markets Integration Council (WACMIC) since March 2015 and explained the three-step plan for integration:
* Phase 1 is sponsored access for brokerage firms, which was launched in July 2015 and has seen several transactions between Ghana and Nigeria.
* Phase 2 will be a “common passport”, giving a regional stockbroker direct access to any market.
* Phase 3 will be to follow the Euronext model, with a single trading platform and a single order book for all the markets.

The BRVM is Africa’s sixth securities exchange by market capitalization ($12.8 billion for equities and $2.7 billion debt) in 2015. It represents an economic area of more than 100 million consumers, with fast, diversified growth. See more at: www.brvm.org.

The meeting was organized by AZ Media in New York and ourselves, African Growth Partners Ltd.

Edoh Kossi Amenounve, CEO of BRVM exchange

Edoh Kossi Amenounve, CEO of BRVM exchange

Cross-exchange trading between Ghana and Nigeria stock exchanges

A trade in July was one of the first examples of cross-border trading, where a broker in Ghana was able to buy shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange through links with a Nigerian broker. It points the way for closer capital market integration in West Africa, where economic links are already strong.

According to this story on Bloomberg, the trade was executed by Ghana’s CAL Brokers Ltd and Nigeria’s United Capital Securities Ltd. CAL Brokers bought 100 Dangote Cement and 6,000 Guaranty Trust Bank shares from United Capital Securities. It bought the shares for its own portfolio to sell later, paying commission and money transfer costs.

“Investors can now tap into bigger pool of funds,” Geoffrey Maison, a research analyst at CAL, told Bloomberg in an interview. “Investors from Ghana can look out for opportunities on the Nigerian Stock Exchange or BRVM if they can’t get stocks to buy here.”

Wole Shonibare, Deputy Group CEO/ Managing Director, Investment Banking at United Capital PLC wrote: With signed memoranda of understanding (MOU) (recognized by each regulator in the two jurisdictions) in place, Ghana and Nigerian dealing members (broker-dealers) were able to trade among themselves via Sponsored Access. The first trade which was completed on 15 July 2015 was facilitated by the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE), in conjunction with the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) with the actual trade conducted by United Capital Securities. This first trade has successfully developed the framework for subsequent trades in the market.

More than 180 securities are listed on the Nigerian bourse, while Ghana Stock Exchange has 35 equities and the Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières SA or BRVM, a regional stock exchange bringing together eight countries from a base in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, has 39 deals. Ghana and BRVM have been seeing lower trading volumes.

Four West African exchanges including the Sierra Leone stock exchange are busy with a staged integration process under the West African Capital Markets Integration Council (WACMIC), set up in January 2013 to harmonize the regulatory environment for issuing and trading securities and to develop a common platform for cross-border listing and trading. WACMIC is made up of Chief Executives of the regulators (securities commissions) and of the securities exchanges. Adu Anane Antwi, director general of Ghana’s Securities and Exchange Commission told Bloomberg the council had been working on rules and technicalities of cross market trade since 2012.

The current phase is.known as “sponsored access”. Maison said broker can ask a dealer in another country to execute trades on its behalf, Maison said. Previously, an investor wanting to buy equities in another country would have to go through an audit before opening an account with a broker.

Antwi said: “Even at this first stage if you’re interested in a Nigerian stock you don’t have to go to Nigeria to find a broker,” Antwi said. “You can buy the stock by talking to a broker here.”

Next step will be “direct access”. Traders will be able to execute transactions in other markets. The final is a common board to display prices across the 4 markets. This is facilitated as the exchanges have automatic trading and allow direct market access (DMA)

According to United Capital’s Shonibare: This landmark transaction is important and beneficial to West Africa and the African financial markets in many ways. Liberalizing capital transactions across any region is the first step for integrated capital markets. Over the years, African financial markets have been left vulnerable to volatility resulting from massive portfolio inflows from countries that share little economic similarities with the region, causing a significant bout of macroeconomic instability in the domestic financial markets. The Ghana-Nigeria deal is expected to be a precursor to greater capital flows within a sub-region that already operates a liberalized trade environment.

In the near term, market operators intending to participate in this laudable initiative would need to scale up their IT support for trading securities as transactions can only be done electronically while orders would require an order management system that is synchronized with the local Stock Exchange. There is need to provide information about investment opportunities across markets within the region as this will help boost inter-market dealings by investors and assist market operators increase their revenues. Stronger Settlement system is also important. Additionally, there is need for a more robust banking system across markets such that investors can make payments in local currencies where orders are originated irrespective of the market they are trading into as this will help increase the volume/value of trades. Finally, there is urgent need to pass the enabling laws that would allow electronic trading and direct market access to take place in the various exchanges within the region.

Total Senegal offers shares in IPO until 7 Nov for BRVM listing

BRVM in Abidjan (photo: AfricanCapitalMarketsNews.com)

BRVM in Abidjan (photo: AfricanCapitalMarketsNews.com)

Total Senegal is bringing the first initial public offer (IPO) of shares to the growing Abidjan-based Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres (BRVM) since 2010, with shares on sale until November. Parent company Total Outre-Mer is selling 8.9% of the shares in the oil products company , in a share offer that began 8 Oct and closes 7 Nov.
Reuters quotes Odile Sene Kantoussan, chief executive of brokerage company CGF Bourse, based in Dakar, saying: “This operation … consists of the divestment of 290,000 shares held by Total Outre-Mer in Total Senegal’s capital..The shares will be listed on the (BRVM) alongside 22% of the capital representing the stake of minority shareholders, bringing the floating capital on the Bourse to 30.9%. ” The ordinary shares each cost XOF 12,000 (CFA franc) equivalent to USD 23.19, with a minimum subscription of 5 shares, according to this announcement by Compagnie de Gestion Financière (CGF Bourse), which is sponsoring broker and Société de Gestion Intermédiation (SGI) in a syndicate of 20 brokers placing the shares. Initial priority is giving to investors in Senegal before extending across the CFA zone. The shares have XOF 1,000 nominal value according to the information memorandum available here. The transaction value is XOF 3.48 billion ($6.7million).
Total has already listed its Ivory Coast subsidiary among the 37 companies listed on the BRVM which trades securities from 8 nations across the West African region.
According to another news report by Agence Ecofin, Gabriel Fal, Chairman of the BRVM and Edoh Kossi Amenounve, CEO, hosted a ceremony for the offering on 10 Oct. It reports that the BRVM’s market capitalization has soared past XOF6 trillion ($11bn) driven by demand for Sonatel – the previous Senegalese listing in 1998 – and capital increases by subsidiaries of Bank of Africa group.

Gabriel Fal, Chairman of the BRVM (photo: BRVM)

Gabriel Fal, Chairman of the BRVM (photo: BRVM)


In April Fal was reported to forecast other potential BRVM listings could include Ivorian banks, Banque Internationale pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest en Cote d’Ivoire and Societe Ivoirienne de Banque, 51% owned by Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank, as well as Matforce, a Senegalese company which provides energy equipment, an insurance company based in Dakar and a Canadian gold mining company operating in Cote d’Ivoire.
After the sale and listing, Total Outre-Mer will own 23.1% and Total Africa Limited will own 46%.
See the CGF Bourse website for details on the share offer.

Top performances for USD investors at Africa’s stock exchanges

Malawi came out as Africa’s top-performing securities exchange for USD-based investors over 2013, with a strong 62.4% return over the year to 31 December. According to data published by the excellent website, www.investinginafrica.net, 8 out of 13 African exchanges surveyed beat the 29.6% return achieved by the key US S&P 500 equity index.
Other top performers for USD investors included West Africa’s regional securities exchange Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM) which covers 8 countries. Ghana Stock Exchange gave 44.8% return, the Nigerian Stock Exchange was close behind with 44.6% and Kenya’s Nairobi Securities Exchange scored 43.7%.
Worst performers were the Namibian Stock Exchange (-2.6%) and the South Africa’s Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) with a return of -9.3%, both strongly affected by the decline in the exchange rate of ZAR currency against USD.
Prospects for African exchanges continue to look good with many African economies expected to continue strong growth in coming years and increasing deal interest. However, changes in quantitative easing in the US could lead to cash withdrawals from emerging and frontier markets including Africa.
Liquidity is a major challenge for many exchanges, according to the data by Ryan Hoover of InvestinginAfrica. Zambia’s Lusaka stock exchange only traded $0.7million of African equities a week, while Malawi and Uganda only achieved $0.8m each and Namibia $1m. Ghana was at $3.5m a week, just behind Abidjan-based BRVM which traded $4.6m, while Mauritius managed $5.7m a week, Botswana $6.2m and the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange $8.5m. Most liquid exchanges in the list (which does not include the Egyptian Exchange) include Nairobi averaging $37.1m a week, Nigeria at $106.8m and the JSE at $3.5 billion of equity trading a week.
Although Hoover lists the Dar es Salaam SE as trading a creditable $10.7m a week, a news report in the Tanzania Daily News say turnover jumped 5 fold to TZS252.3bn ($155.9m) in 2013, up from TZS50.9bn in 2012, which is equivalent to $3m a week. The paper quotes DSE’s CEO Moremi Marwa saying: “The DSE outstanding performance demonstrates the increased activities coupled with education campaigns geared at enhancing awareness that gradually made the market more vibrant”. However, the article notes there was a single transaction for TZS78.5bn ($48.5m) in Tanzania Breweries (TBL) in the third week of December 2013 as 48 deals between the International Finance Corporation and local investors which boosted local ownership and may have influenced the figures.

For the full table, check www.investinginafrica.net here:

Africa’s securities exchanges and their part in Africa’s future

“How can African exchanges become an integral part of the continent’s economic transformation?” This is the challenge from Sunil Benimadhu, President of the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA www.african-exchanges.org), at the flagship conference in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, earlier this month. It is a good agenda for action by Africa’s securities exchanges in 2014.
Benimadhu asks how the stock exchanges can “become powerful enablers and powerful drivers of change”; how they can “empower the middle-class, democratize the economy and help overcome poverty”; and how capital markets can “effectively provide the much-needed capital for corporate funding, but also the funding of governments’ social programmes in Africa?”
He identified 4 “S”s for securities exchanges:

S is for synergy
“There is a fundamental need for African stock exchanges to establish strong synergies with the other clusters within the financial services sector, like the banking sector, the insurance sector, the asset-management industry, the pension-fund industry, and work towards the emergence of an integrated approach to the development of the financial services sector in Africa. African exchanges have, for too long, been considered as mere appendages to the mainstream financial services clusters, when in effect they should have occupied a central position within the financial services spectrum, as clearly evidenced by successful financial centres in the world.”

S is support
Governments and policy-makers in Africa need “to understand the fundamental transformational role of capital markets to the socioeconomic fabric of African economies. Governments need to be fully supportive of the development of vibrant capital markets and they need to adopt policies that are conducive to the development of efficient and competitive markets.” Benimadhu cites Singapore, whose success began with a “direct interventionist approach of the Singaporean Government which made a clear statement about its vision to transform Singapore into an international financial centre and adopted policies that were fully supportive of the stated vision.” He points out how Singapore’s capital markets have contributed immensely to the transformation of the country’s economy into a world star. He added that Africa’s most successful companies should support the African stock exchanges by listing and contributing to market growth.

S is scope
African securities exchanges should “move up the value-chain and extend the scope of products and services they offer”. He acknowledges the short-term challenge is still the flotation and listing of new, valuable and liquid companies, but adds: “the short-to-medium term target implies a fundamental review of the exchange business model and the diversification of revenue streams via a strategic shift from the current equity-centric focus. New products including bonds, exchange-traded funds, structured products and eventually derivatives need to be introduced.”

S – substance
“Substance is about the ability of African Stock Exchanges to demonstrate that they have created value for the different stakeholders they service, namely issuers, investors and society as a whole.” Benimadhu says exchanges need to show how they have enabled existing issuers to raise capital to fund their growth and to create value for their shareholders and this will help bring new issuers to the market. “The substantive contributions of African Exchanges on both these counts are quite compelling and I think that these strengths need to be aggressively marketed by African exchanges to attract new issuers and broaden our product offerings.”
It is also important for African stock exchanges to improve their image and marketing to investors: “African exchanges need to demonstrate that they operate in a cost-effective and transparent manner, that information on listed scrips are readily and timeously available and that exchanges offer products that can potentially generate attractive returns to investors.
“With regards to society, exchanges should demonstrate that they can contribute to the democratization of the economy, create wealth for the citizens of a nation, contribute to the job-creation process, improve corporate governance and finally contribute to the overall well-being of a society from both a quantitative as well as a qualitative perspective.”

Panels at the conference included government support to the development of vibrant capital markets in Africa; how exchanges can generate substance and value for issuers, helping issuers tell their story right and endorsing effective communication strategies; and listening to issuers and investors on how African exchanges have added value to each.

African securities exchanges celebrate – and get challenged

ABIDJAN, COTE D’IVOIRE – The atmosphere was festive as Africa’s securities exchanges got together for the annual “must go” conference. Some 350 delegates from all over the world gathered at the atmospheric Hotel Sofitel Ivoire for 2 days of debate including 8 panels.

Prime Minister pledges support says exchanges should be innovative
Cote d’Ivoire Prime Minister Duncan Kablan Duncan came to open and close the panel, and he challenged the exchanges to come up with innovative solutions that would help finance Africa’s growth. He made clear that the conference theme “from progress to achievements” meant that Africa’s leaders expect a lot from the securities exchanges.
He pointed to the strong economic growth in Africa and its world beating economies, and said that this still hid a lot of challenges. Building the electricity and other infrastructure are among the challenges and African states do not have the right instruments yet to finance these through the capital markets.
He said governments and markets had to seek to remove constraints to growth, such as the overwhelmingly short-term nature of funding available and lack of finance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), compounded by drastic reductions in development aid since the crisis. He pointed to giant achievements too, such as the creation of a common market in ECOWAS with 300 million people.
He told of Cote d’Ivoire’s own efforts to recover fast from a decade of destruction. He said growth was 9.8% in 2012, and is targeted for 8.7% in 2013 and 10% in 2014. He added that peace, security, reconciliation and cohesion were essential and hailed the success of the Committee of Dialogue and Reconstruction which “has contributed to the normalization of peace and the return of stability”.
The Prime Minister pledged a new emphasis on privatization after the previous round in the 1990s and progress on many regional projects including highways to Lagos, Ndjamena and Ouagadougou as well a railway to link six countries, airport and seaport expansion, the gas interconnect line and the West African Power Pool investments.
“We appeal to all parties, please increase your support and look for new initiatives that bring synergies. We need to improve the number of companies that are listed and the market capitalization many times by 2020. The market deserves to be supported at the regional level.”
He cited as good initiatives the fibre network and popularizing stock exchange activities.
He said that at the heart of the challenges for stock exchanges is the transformation of Africa, “our stock exchanges should be ambitious to bring the innovative solutions”

Other opening speakers included Sunil Benimadhu, President of the African Securities Exchanges Association, and Thierry Tanoh, CEO of Ecobank Transnational International.

Your editor had the honour of moderating 2 panel discussions
* Panel 1: “Why now and why African frontier markets?”, the panellists were Colin Bell (Head of Global Emerging Markets at leading stockbroker Auerbach Grayson), David Finch (Head of Portfolio Mangement at BNP Paribas) and Hubert Danso (CEO, Africa investor).
* Panel 7: “Innovation in capital markets infrastructure: relevance to African securities exchanges”, with banter between leading African IT vendors Sandy Frucher (vice-chairman of Nasdaq OMX Group) and Tony Weeresinghe (CEO of Millennium IT and Director of Global Development at the London Stock Exchange Group), and other contributions from Naseer Akhtar (President and CEO Infotech Group) and Hannes Takacs (managing partner of CAPMEX, the capital markets advisors).

$183bn of M&A in Africa in last 10 years, Britain leads

The total value of mergers and acquisitions deals in Africa by foreign investors was $183 billion over the ten years 2003-2012, up threefold on the previous decade, according to a story this week on Reuters. There were a total of 2,417 transactions, double the previous decade (up 109%). Britain was the largest investor with 437 deals worth $30.5bn.
The information is available in figures compiled by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, an international law firm. Other major investors were France (141 deals worth $30.47bn) and China (49 deals worth $20.8bn). South Africa is the most active African investor in the continent outside of its domestic market and invested $6.2bn across 153 deals.
According to the Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer press release: “International investors now account for half of the total value of African M&A, completing 255 deals worth $20.0bn out of a total of $39.5bn and 758 deals in 2012. This is up from $6.4bn and 122 deals in 2003.”
Most of the M&A action was in metals and mining, with 752 deals worth $33.9bn, followed by oil and gas (299 deals worth $29.6bn) and wireless telecoms (33 deals worth $25.4bn). Reuters quotes Bruce Embley, corporate partner at the law firm, who says the emphasis could be changing: “Extractives and mining opportunities have been big drivers of growth. However, consumer-related M&A could take the limelight as GDP per household continues to grow, the middle class in Africa expands and consumer demand rises.”
According to the press release: “Consumer-facing industries such as telecoms, retail and food and drink are beginning to rival natural resources with $58.0bn invested across 569 deals. The value of investment targeting consumer industries has doubled in the last ten years with $3.8bn across 71 deals invested in 2012 (up from $1.9bn and 33 deals in 2003).”
Top deal destinations over 2003-2012 were South Africa ($59.1bn of investment over 836 deals), Egypt ($46.5bn for 266 deals) and Nigeria ($22.1bn across 90 deals).
China overtook the USA as Africa’s largest trading partner in 2009, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report released in February. African economic growth is forecast at 4.8% in 2013 and 5.3% in 2014, according to the African Economic Outlook 2013 report released on 27 May. The growth will be fuelled by commodity exporters such as Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, all in West Africa. The annual AEO report is produced the African Development Bank (AfDB), the OECD Development Centre, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

African Development Bank starts move to Cote d’Ivoire in 2013

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.

Cauris private equity books into West Africa hotel growth

A West Africa private equity fund, Fonds Cauris Croissance II, says it will invest 4 billion FCFA (XOF, equivalent to $8 million) in Azalaï Hotels to fund an ambitious expansion programme in the region. The investee company, Azalaï Hotels (www.azalaihotels.com), operates 6 hotels in Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau and Mali and is expanding into new countries, including Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Conakry and Senegal.
Azalaï Hotels is to start building a hotel in Côte d’Ivoire in January 2013 and plans to open late in 2014. The company began operating in 1994 in Mali and has expanded its presence into 4 countries through opening or acquiring 3- to 5-star hotels, according to a press release.
Fonds Cauris Croissance is managed by West African fund manager, Cauris Management (www.caurismanagement.com).
Cauris Investment, the first fund managed by the same manager, previously invested with the Azalaï Hotels group in 1998 to finance the construction of a hotel in Mali and the first regional expansion. Cauris Investment exited in 2006.
Commenting on this new investment, Mr. Mossadeck Bally, founder and CEO of Azalaï Hotels said: “The partnership between Cauris and Azalaï Hotels is a sign of mutual respect between our institutions. Cauris is the private equity institution that best understands the specificities of local entrepreneurs while following its own requirements for commercial returns. After a first mutually beneficial partnership, it is with pleasure that we will enjoy again Cauris’ experience both in hotels and in other sectors.” Azalaï Hotels says it is the first locally owned hotel chain in West Africa to offer services at international standards.
Noel Yawo Eklo, CEO of Cauris Management, said in the press release: “After a first positive experience, we think it is important to support Azalai Hotels in its development programme, especially now that it is about completing the regional mapping and strengthening the profitability of a group composed of very seasoned professionals. The hospitality sector is a difficult one to operate in globally, but it is rewarding as it also creates much-needed jobs”.
Private equity fund manager Cauris Management has been active in West Africa, mainly the francophone countries, for over 15 years. Cauris Management has invested in 42 companies and exited 35 in its target region. The investment portfolio has included agribusiness, financial services, hospitality, telecoms, consumer goods, and downstream oil and gas.
Earlier this year, in March-June, Cauris exited its stake in Petro Ivoire, a downstream oil and gas operator in Cote D’Ivoire, according to this report on Private Equity Africa. The deal was structured as a management buy-back and generated annualized returns of 23% for Cauris which first backed the company in 2006 in a CFA2.2bn deal in partnership with Africinvest. The company was expanding into bottled gas. During the five years the investors were involved, Petro Ivoire grew its network of petrol stations by 33% and is thought to be the third largest operator, and to have 19% of butane gas market after investing in a butane gas filling plant in 2007.