Archive for the 'Education' Category

Pension funds power Africa’s infrastructure

Here is my article on a critical area for Africa to develop, creating the right atmosphere for productive investments by Africa’s growing pension funds. It is published in African Banker magazine and you can access it on the africanbusinessmagazine.com website here:

The power of pension funds for African infrastructure
By Tom Minney
“Opening the elegant new six-lane toll bridge stretching cross Dar es Salaam’s Kigamboni Creek in April, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli called it “liberation” for citizens.
It represents a $135m investment by Tanzania’s National Social Security Fund, the state-run pension fund, and government. China Railway Construction Engineering Group built the 680-metre bridge with China Railway Major Bridge Group and say it is the longest cable-stayed bridge in East Africa.
It is also Tanzania’s first toll road – which residents say is worth paying for as it makes their lives easier. The development will lead to new residential housing and is hoped to boost tourism in the country.
The World Bank estimates Africa should spend $93bn – 5% of gross domestic product (GDP) – each year on infrastructure and the African Development Bank (AfDB) notes a $50bn financing gap to reach this. Local and international pension funds can help fill the gap.
The Bright Africa report by consultancy firm RisCura says that at the end of 2014 assets under management by pension funds across 16 major African markets amounted to $334bn. Some 90% of assets were concentrated in four countries: South Africa (with $258bn) Nigeria, Namibia and Botswana. Assets had grown more than 20% a year in East Africa and 25%–30% a year in Nigeria over the previous half decade.

Potential to drive growth
Pension funds mostly invest in local fixed-income bonds, with regulation a key driver of asset allocation. But as RisCura argues, pension funds are ideal to drive inclusive growth and social stability, including through investing in longer-term projects such as infrastructure: “Local institutional investors lend credibility and a measure of validation, and often serve as a catalyst for greater external interest. Local investors also allow global peers to leverage local knowledge and networks.
With longer investment horizons, pension funds can serve as anchor investors for infrastructure and social development projects,” says the report. South African pension funds lead the way, partly spurred by rules that allow them to invest 10% of assets through private equity.

Africa’s $111bn pension fund
The Government Employees’ Pension Fund (GEPF) with R1.6 trillion ($111bn) assets under management in March 2015 reported it had committed R62bn towards “unlisted and developmental assets” in the previous 12 months, including Touwsriver and Bokpoort solar power projects in South Africa; MainOne data and broadband telecommunications in West Africa; pan-African power generation through Aldwych Power; N3TC which operates and maintains 420km of South Africa’s N3 highway; and two hospitals.
Other investments listed include $21.6m into private airport concession TAV Tunisia through the Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF) managed by Harith General Partners. GEPF invested $2.6bn into the first PAIDF fund by March 2015 and pledged up to R4.2bn for the second by 2020. Five other pension funds also invested in the $630m PAIDF I fund, which will last 15 years and invested into more than 70 African projects. PAIDF 2 recently announced first close after raising $435m, again with pension funds as key investors.
South Africa’s Eskom Pension and Provident Fund (EPPF) in 2014 invested $30m into infrastructure projects through private-equity house Abraaj, based in Dubai, as well as mobile-phone infrastructure through London’s Helios. EPPF chief executive Sbu Luthuli says “We have to diversify” and wants to put more than $100m into infrastructure projects – 1.2% of its total R120bn assets (as of June 2015). GEPF said that it had invested 1% of its assets into African equities outside South Africa at March 2015, compared to a target of 5% (R80bn).

New funds being created
Financial institutions and multilateral lenders are looking to speed up the process. For instance, the AfDB created the Africa50 fund with target capitalisation up to $10bn and says it has secured $500m. For the second round to $1bn it is targeting institutional investors, including African and global pension funds. Kenya’s government and parastatals such as Kengen are leading the way in selling local-currency bonds to finance infrastructure.
The network is growing. Harith works with Asset and Resource Management Company in Nigeria to invest in West African infrastructure and is setting up a $1bn COMESA Infrastructure Fund with PTA Bank for eastern and southern Africa.
In June Harith and its Aldwych arm announced links with Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) to create a $3.3bn power portfolio, supplying 30m people across 10 countries. Andrew Alli, president and chief executive of AFC, says: “By working together we can deliver tangible benefit for Africans, switching their lights on and stimulating positive economic growth on the continent.”

Politics and mistrust
But it’s not always that straight-forward. In February, Nigeria’s minister of power, works and housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, called on the country’s pension funds, which manage some N5.8 trillion ($18.4bn), to invest more in infrastructure and other development projects. However, later in the year, newspapers reported that no infrastructure projects had been put forward that met the legal requirements of the 2015 regulations on investment of pension fund assets, including a minimum value of N5bn for individual projects and award through competitive bidding to a concessionaire with a good track record.
The Nigerian Labour Congress expressed members’ fears: “The thought of using our pension fund for investment in public-sector infrastructure development is highly frightening given the well-known penchant for mismanagement inherent in public-sector institutions in Nigeria … It is therefore immoral and careless to subject such fund which is the life-blood of workers to the itchy fingers of politicians, no matter how well intentioned.”
Despite the worries, confidence in governance is growing and attention is switching to building the supply of projects. As RisCura’s report notes: “In many countries, assets are growing much faster than products are being brought to market, limiting investment opportunities.”

Projects and stages
Projects typically go through several stages, starting with feasibility studies to create a “bankable” project; then building or developing the project; and finally operating it once it is established, for instance collecting the tolls on a highway and fixing holes. The last stage is usually the least risky and most suited for pension-fund investors.
The Africa50 fund follows other initiatives in funding early-stage projects in order to boost the supply and mobilise more financing for later stages. Kigamboni bridge took more than two decades. Africa’s fast-growing pension funds need a faster pipeline of investible and well-run projects.

Kigamboni Bridge, Dar es Salaam. Photo Daniel Hayduk, from Nairobi Wire

First graduate course for capital markets professionals

Capital markets practitioners across Africa can benefit from a graduate-level programme launched this week by the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, the Milken Institute and the George Washington University.

The programme initially focuses on sub-Saharan Africa, and aims to expand to other regions. The curriculum is tailored to address challenges specific to developing economies, according to a press release.

Michael Milken, Jingdong Hua and Steven Knapp

Michael Milken, Jingdong Hua and Steven Knapp

The programme was launched on 3 May and the first 20 students from capital market authorities, central banks and ministries of finance in Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Gambia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Saudi Arabia, the Seychelles, and Zambia begin in August 2016 and will graduate in May 2017.

The course will equip mid-career professionals with the analytical tools and practical experience to support capital-market development in their countries. It is held over eight months and combines rigorous coursework and a work placement opportunity.

It leverages the academic excellence of the George Washington University School of Business, offering course work from financial modelling and computation to regulatory and legal aspects of capital-market development. The IFC boosts this with case studies drawn from it unparalleled experience in supporting domestic capital-market development in countries as diverse as the Dominican Republic, India, and Rwanda.

A speaker series will offer additional opportunities for interaction with thought leaders, practitioners and pioneers in the international capital markets. In the spring semester, program participants will put learning into practice through work placements with the Milken Institute’s wide network of public and private sector collaborators.

When they successfully complete the programme, participants receive an academic certificate from the George Washington University and are expected to return to their home countries to work on local capital markets for at least 2 years. They will also belong to an active alumni network that will collectively foster the next generation of capital market leaders in developing regions.

Michael Milken, Chairman of the Milken Institute, said: “Capital markets multiply the vast potential of human and social capital—and thereby contribute to economic growth and prosperity.”

Steven Knapp, President of the George Washington University, said “This unique partnership has the potential to bring millions of people in the developing world out of poverty by developing effective capital markets and stronger financial institutions. The program will make the connection between classroom instruction and real-world experience that is a hallmark of the George Washington experience.”

Jingdong Hua, IFC Vice President and Treasurer, said: “A well-functioning capital market is not a luxury; it is a necessity. Deep, vibrant capital markets are essential for a thriving private sector that creates jobs and enables economies to achieve their full potential.”

For more information on the program, visit cmp.milkeninstitute.org.

George Washington University

George Washington University

Egyptian Exchange holds workshops with mutual funds to boost liquidity

The Egyptian Exchange (www.egx.com.eg) is busy with workshops for mutual funds, investment banks and managers of investment institutions, aiming to boost trading volumes through better communications between market participants and listed companies.

Trading floor of Egyptian Exchange - Dec 2012  pic: Tom Minney

Trading floor of Egyptian Exchange – Dec 2012 pic: ACMN, Tom Minney

The workshops gave investor relations (IR) officials of the listed companies a chance to present their work plans and investment options and the fund managers could also discuss latest developments and current market variables.
According to an EGX press release, Dr. Mohammed Omran, EGX Chairman, said the EGX is keen to boost stock market liquidity. Fund managers praised the communication with listed companies and said it adds to the disclosure provided by EGX. It gives a legal framework for officials of listed companies to answer questions from the institutional investors.
This is a high priority in the current Egyptian economy where all market participants need to work hard to keep the Egyptian Exchange strong and active capital market in the short and medium term.

Oppenheimer family and Temasek SWF launch African private equity fund

Reuters reported recently that South Africa’s E. Oppenheimer family and Singapore’s sovereign fund Temasek Holdings have set up a $300 million private equity fund called Tana Africa Capital to invest primarily in consumer goods and agricultural sectors across Africa. The fund will target Africa’s growing young population and also focus on agricultural production and processing of farm produce and, to a lesser extent media, education and healthcare. The prime target will be the bigger economies, but it will not avoid smaller economies.

James Teeger, group managing director at E Oppenheimer & Son, told Reuters: “The initial capital commitment is $300 million, so 150 from each partner. We felt that was an appropriate amount to help the team make 5 to 6 investments over the next few years.” He would not say when Tana Africa hoped to close its first investment but he said the fund has a strong deal pipeline.

Reuters reports that Africa is increasingly attracting interest in investment, focusing on its abundant resources, fast-growing population and rising personal incomes. Reuters said Siemens AG said last year it aimed to invest $254 m in Africa by 2012. Global private equity group Carlyle, based in Washington D.C., said in March it was entering sub-Saharan Africa, targeting investments in consumer goods, financial services, agriculture and infrastructure.

Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission educates, partners Nollywood film

Nigerian regulator, the Securities & Exchange Commission, is travelling the country to build education and awareness. Internationally it also is working hard to restore confidence in the capital markets, as regulation tightens since 2009.
SEC Director General Arunma Oteh, SEC Commissioners and senior officials visited Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State, for 4 days of meetings with stakeholder groups such as business, civil servants, legislators, teachers and students.
Oteh challenged Nigeria’s state governments and corporates to seek long-term funds from the market to finance development projects, rather than using short-term financing. Short-term funds for long-term projects, she warned, would amount to a mismatch, with negative consequences and high default risk if, for instance, interest rates continued to rise.
Oteh said that no nation can develop without long-term capital and this was the “reason why governments make concerted effort to promote the market and ensure its stability as an integral part of the financial sector development.”
The SEC organized a 3-day investor/issuer education programme, themed: “The role of the capital market in mobilising funds for business expansion and infrastructure development.” Senior officials from the Nigerian Stock Exchange were present too, to encourage more companies to become listed on the NSE.
The SEC has also launched a partnership with Nigeria’s film industry (“Nollywood”), on using film to spread the word widely about capital markets and investing. According to a report of the SEC campaign in Daily Independent newspaper, the first fruit of the partnership was “Breeze,” a comedy/drama, which according to Kunle Afolayan, the producer/director, premiered on 19 July and teaches the essence of saving for the future.
Oteh explained the partnership with Nollywood was a good way to reach all strata of the Nigerian society. The SEC said “the capital market is key to transforming our society, because no nation has grown without its people saving to educate their children and to transform the country.”
She also said that the SEC is poised for more collaborations with Nollywood in the light of lack of share knowledge, significantly growing number of investors from only 4.5 million or 3% of the population (compared with 60% of U.S. households that invest in the capital market).
Collective investment schemes (CIS) are also on the rise. Oteh said there was an opportunity to pool funds for investment in infrastructure and the SME sector. Olumide Oyetan, CEO of Stanbic IBTC Asset Management Limited, was reported as saying CIS are not much used in Africa, unlike in the US where only 10% of individuals invest directly, and the majority through mutual funds and this is partly because of “poor awareness and low financial literacy amongst retail investors (less than 100,000 people use CIS in Nigeria); limited options available amongst operators and asset classes; aggressive return expectations from investors; safety of investment concerns since the global crisis; prevalence of unregistered and unregulated quacks.”
The Rivers State government is hoping to issue a N100 billion bond targeted at replacing the decaying infrastructure, helping to diversify from oil and preparing for the challenges ahead as first tranche of a N250 bn state issuance programme.

Paladin private equity lists education firm on AltX

South African private equity firm Paladin Capital (www.paladincapital.co.za) has listed its 76% subsidiary Curro Holdings (www.curro.co.za) on the JSE’s AltX on 2 June. Curro, which offers private schooling, aims to raise another R322.4 million ($48 million) through a rights offer after the listing, according to a news report on Fin24.com, in order to reduce the weight of debt on the balance sheet.
The rights offer will be partially underwritten as JSE-listed Paladin (PLD) will retain its majority stake and PSG Financial Services (www.psggroup.co.za), a diversified financial services firm which owns 80.6% of Paladin, will underwrite the offer. Previously Curro’s expansion was funded by debt finance provided via Paladin, including a 10-year loan of R73 mn ($10.8 mn) from the International Finance Corporation.
Curro was founded in 1998, with 28 learners receiving tuition in a church building in Durbanville. It has grown to over 5,500 learners at its 12 schools in the Western Cape, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, all in South Africa. It plans to add 40 more in the coming 9 years and each school requires R30 mn-R70 mn capital outlay.
Curro CEO Chris van der Merwe says: “The public education sector has a huge responsibility to supply enough schools for the ever-increasing number of children, and many state schools are becoming overcrowded. Curro Holdings can complement the public sector and ease the pressure by supplying affordable private school education for children aged 4 to 18.
“Our schools are staffed by trained and experienced teachers and our tuition fees are lower than those charged by high end, more expensive private schools. As a result, we have experienced sharp growth and there is ongoing demand for our schools,” he said.
Noah Greenhill, the JSE’s head of marketing and business development at the JSE, said the AltX gives an opportunity for good quality, high growth companies to raise capital to fund future growth. “Education is a critical element in the development of South Africa and AltX plays an important role in facilitating the growth and development of companies such as Curro.”
Last year Paladin paid R52 mn ($7.7 mn) to boost its stake in Curro to 76%. Paladin chairperson Jannie Mouton wrote in the annual report: “Without downplaying the other segments, education is an industry in which Paladin believes above-average potential exists. This is where management sees significant growth in the foreseeable future.”
He said Curro offered fees of up to 40% lower than its competitors: “Curro aims to be a high-quality, value-for-money alternative.” He pointed out that only about 3% of pupils attend private schools, while 22% of South Africa’s population received private healthcare. He said few new schools were being built in middle- and upper-income areas, and waiting lists at private schools were long.
Paladin’s annual report valued the 50% stake in Curro – before the latest additional 25% stake was acquired – at R100m, representing 9% of Paladin’s total R1.167bn. portfolio. Curro operated a loss of R300,000 in 2007, then had an after-tax profit of R300,000 in 2008, R1.9m in headline earnings in 2009 and R5.2 m in 2010. Mouton said profits would not rise fast while Curro was in a growth phase “due to the amount of leverage used”.
Advtech is the only private education company listed on the JSE has a market capitalization of R2.4bn. It is the owner of brands like Crawford Colleges and Abbotts.
Last year Paladin made an after-tax profit of R208 mn when it received R354 mn from the sale if its 123.47 mn shares in Namibian fast-moving consumer goods group CIC, also listed on the JSE, to Imperial Holdings. The compounded return was 64.8% over 4 years. It also sold its stake in Lesotho Milling for R26 mn after investing R21 mn and receiving R7 mn in dividends.
Paladin’s portfolio includes listed investments such as Capitec bank, the JSE Ltd and Steinhoff as well as unlisted investments such as Curro, empowerment investment group Thembeka Capital and Protea Foundry. Paladin spent R30 mn on another 10 mn shares in Petmin, R23 mn on another 17 mn shares in Erbacon and bought another 3.8% stake in Spirit Capital and provided R50 mn of debt funding so Spirit could acquire skin care and beauty distributor Annique and fashion accessory distributor Honey. It has also recently bought a 45% interest in Energy Partners.
Full details of the portfolio can be found in Paladin’s annual report to February 2011, downloadable here.

Vital impact PE fund raises $250 m and invests in Angolan housing

A private equity fund that invests in housing, agriculture, education and health says it has raised more than $250 million for its first fund, Vital Capital Fund I. Eytan Stibbe, founding managing partner at Vital Capital Investments LP (www.vital-capital.com) and chief investment officer was reported as telling Bloomberg yesterday (3 May) the fund aimed to invest in Angola, Ghana and Mozambique.
The fund includes retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark among its advisory board members, is a proponent of “impact investing,” a strategy that places capital in ventures with social or environmental goals.
Stibbe says Vital Capital has already invested in Kora Housing, a developer of affordable housing in Angola. It aims to raise another $250 million.