Archive for the 'Morocco' Category

Casablanca Stock Exchange grants to encourage SMEs

Morocco’s Casablanca Stock Exchange (www.casablanca-bourse.com) is offering grants to small and medium enterprises to encourage them to raise capital. It is offering up to 500,000 MAD (approximately $63,740 at current exchange rate for Moroccan Dirhams) from 1 July 2011 to 31 December 2012. According to an announcement on the bourse’s website, the offer is because of important role played by SMEs in the development of the Moroccan economy.
The grant is given under certain conditions and the SME must be listed on the stock exchange’s Growth or Development boards and have equity of less than 50 million MAD. It also needs to issue at least 20% of its capital and to use the IPO to raise capital. Normally the cost of an IPO is 2.2%-5% of the capital raised and the stock exchange says this can be a barrier to raising more capital.

First listing for 2011
STROC Industrie S.A. (www.stroc.com) on 30 June became the first new listing on the Casablanca Stock Exchange in 2011. The company had planned to offer 288,515 extra shares at MAD357.00 each, raising a total of MAD 102,999,855 ($13 mn), with the offer dates from 20-22 June. However the offer attracted 7,229 bids for a total of 2,515,369 shares, 8.7 times oversubscribed, and was closed on 21 June.
STROC joins the “Engineering and Industrial Equipment” sector. Société de Travaux de Réalisations d’Ouvrages et de Construction Industrielle was founded in 1989. Al Istimrar Holdings has 57.7% of the shares and Nabil Ziatt a further 14.6% while the free float on the stock exchange is 23.1%. The company said it chose to raise capital for its development through the capital market as part of its strategy to be open and transparent to its customers and the financial community. It will use the capital to expand its plant and equipment and build a new headquarters.

SANAD Fund to target SMEs in North Africa and Middle East

Tiny, small and medium businesses in Egypt and Tunisia, later Algeria and Morocco, are set to benefit from a new €30 million ($43.2 mn) SANAD Fund for MSME (www.sanad.lu). This was set up in August 2011 by German development bank KfW Entwicklungsbank with funding from the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Commission and will offer debt and equity financing to partner institutions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region that serve micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Other target countries include Middle Eastern countries such as Lebanon and Jordan.
The fund is expected to attract further investments from public and private bodies. The partners who will help invest the money will be banks, microfinance institutions, financial service providers, leasing and factoring companies, guarantee funds or venture capital funds. The fund will also offer them technical help to build their skills and reach.
Development finance alternative asset manager Finance in Motion GmbH (www.finance-in-motion.com) and Oppenheim Asset Management Services S.à r.l. (www.oppenheim.lu) will manage the new fund which will be structured as a Luxembourg-based Specialized Investment Fund, SICAV-SIF, involving different share classes.
By facilitating access to finance in the region, SANAD – literally “support” in Arabic – aims to strengthen the MSME sector and local financial markets in the MENA region in line with the principles of responsible finance.

NYSE Euronext backs growth in African stock exchanges

According to an interview on America.gov, the firm NYSE Euronext Inc. (www.euronext.com) — the home of the New York Stock Exchange and other exchanges — has seen a threefold increase in the trading of African stocks on its exchanges over the past 5 years and twice as many exchange-traded funds (ETFs) focused on Africa in the past 12 to 18 months.
Altogether, these increases stand as clear evidence of a “strong and growing focus” on doing business in Africa, said Stefan Jekel, managing director for Europe, Middle East and Africa at NYSE Euronext, last month in the interview: “The measure of trading in African firms on our platforms has basically tripled in the last 5 years..So we now have three times the liquidity in African stocks today on our platform compared to 5 years ago.”
There are 16 African stocks listed and traded on NYSE Euronext from 6 African countries: Cameroon (1), Cote d’Ivoire (1), Gabon (1), Morocco (3), Senegal (3) and South Africa (7). The total market capitalization of those listed African companies is $90 billion.
For a fund that give investors a cross-section of African companies, Jekel suggested the many Africa-focused ETFs. “We have seen the number of exchange-traded funds that are focused on Africa double in the last 12 to 18 months. There are funds that cover South Africa, Africa, Africa’s top 40 investments, and those are all available on our platforms here in Europe and the U.S. … all with different specializations, differentiations. … So investors find a variety of solutions and opportunities to participate in the growth that can be found across Africa.”
NYSE Euronext is “very closely monitoring” the African investment climate, Jekel said. “I do not mean that in a passive way. We are very involved in initiatives in highlighting investment in Africa.”
One such initiative, he said, is its annual Ai Index Series Summit held in conjunction with Africa-investor.com (Ai www.africa-investor.com). The 2 companies recently hosted their third annual summit, which featured Robert Rubin, former U.S. treasury secretary and a member of the Africa Progress Panel, and Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, who addressed the summit via a video message.
On African stock exchanges, Jekel said, NYSE Euronext enjoys its closest ties with its client-partner exchanges in Casablanca, Tunis and Gabon, but has close ties with exchanges in South Africa, Egypt and others. There are some 29 functioning stock exchanges across the continent, with Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa accounting for 75% of Africa’s listings.
Jekel said: “We are a technology partner to the Casablanca Stock Market and to the … Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières d’Africque Centrale, or BVMAC, in Gabon and the Tunis Stock Market. By providing technology to these partners, these stock exchanges are using the same engine that NYSE/Euronext use.” He added that they share much of the insight and institutional knowledge as well.
Jekel said he soon plans to travel to South Africa for meetings with members of that country’s exchange to, as he put it, “grow our list of African issuers” and continue building momentum in the Africa investment area.
NYSE Euronext offers training for sister exchanges in Africa and worldwide “mini-internships,” he said, where visitors from other exchanges can “job-shadow” NYSE Euronext personnel.

Role of stock markets
Jekel pointed out the critical role of stock markets worldwide: “No matter where you are, developed or emerging markets, stock exchanges are where investors meet ideas — where companies come to raise capital to finance their business ideas, to finance their growth, and where investors come to participate in these success stories.”
Stock markets, he said, are also an important vehicle for bringing direct foreign investment into a country and serve as a vehicle that “allows investors to participate in the various growth opportunities that exist in emerging market nations and Africa in particular.”
Jekel stressed 2 key pillars of any functioning stock market: reliability and transparency. “I think those are some of the core principles and pillars of a stock exchange operation, and we see those philosophies being naturally adopted in Africa, so that is very comforting.”
Additionally, he said, “We see business and democracy going forward hand-in-hand in positive momentum” across Africa.
Jekel said industry experts who cover Africa on a daily basis all agree that there is a “strong and growing focus on Africa and that it will only grow from here. We see that due to the entrepreneurial spirit, the success stories that come out of Africa and the growing liquidity in its stock markets. We believe those are highly encouraging indicators of development and what is to come.” Entrepreneurs “are key everywhere, be it in the U.S. or Africa. They are the job engines. That is typically where job creation and wealth is coming from and starting.”
Looking to the future, Jekel said, “I think there is consensus among those who are following Africa that right now the BRIC countries [Brazil, Russia, India, China] have a very large role to play in world markets, but several industry insiders are pointing to Africa as a region and continent to pay close attention to over the next 10 to 20 years.”

Rencap has expansion plans

Renaissance Capital (www.rencap.com), the Russian emerging-markets bank with operations in Africa, plans to expand next year into Egypt and at least 3 other African countries, according to a 5 October interview published on Bloomberg. Rencap says on its website that its core businesses areas are Mergers & Acquisitions, equity and debt capital markets, securities sales and trading, research, and derivatives. It says it is building “market-leading practices across emerging markets globally in metals & mining, oil & gas and agriculture.”.
Clifford Sacks, CEO of the South African unit and head of Pan-African Equities, told Bloomberg from Johannesburg the bank may buy or start a brokerage in Egypt that would also cover Morocco and Tunisia. Hasnen Varawalla, global head of corporate finance, added that it also plans to move into Angola, Uganda and Rwanda. Rencap is bsed in Moscow, and currently operates in African nations including Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa Zambia and Zimbabwe. Bloomberg quotes Varawalla: “Each of these countries will see a huge development in their capital markets. We are looking to expand into another 5 or 6 countries in Africa.”
The bank is half-owned by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. It started its African business in 2007. According to Bloomberg last year it participated in 24 transactions across 13 African countries, including the $955 million sale of Central African Mining & Exploration Co. to Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. Africa accounts for a quarter of RenCap’s investment-banking business. Varawalla told Bloomberg that Non-Russian activities will generate more than 50% of revenue within 2 to 3 years.
In July, it paid ZAR207 million (then US$27.3 million) to acquire BJM Securities, the brokerage business of South Africa’s Barnard Jacobs Mellet (BJM) Group. A press release by Rencap describes BJM: “Founded in 1985, BJM Securities is the leading independent full service broker-dealer in South Africa. The firm is known for its outstanding research franchise, having been ranked No.1 in South African research surveys.
The Firm entered South Africa in February 2010 and appointed Clifford Sacks. The press release quotes him: “The combination of a leading independent brokerage in South Africa with award-winning research franchise and Renaissance Capital’s unparalleled expertise in capital markets and M&A, complemented by our unique access to global emerging markets creates a powerful platform across research, sales and trading in Africa’s largest economy.”

Casablanca Stock Exchange – some background

One of Africa’s biggest and most active stock exchanges is Morocco’s Casablanca Stock Exchange (www.casablanca-bourse.com), set up as a joint stock company (“société anonyme”) with a Supervisory Board and owned by the 17 stockbroking members. It has 74 listed securities and active daily trading.
It reports to the Ministry of Finance and Privatisation under well-defined Terms of Reference and complies with rules known as “General Rules”.
The first trading session was on 7 November 1929 as the “Office de Compensation des Valeurs Mobilières” (Office for Clearing of Transferable Securities). In 1948 the bourse acquired legal personality and in 1967 came a legal and technical reorganization and it became as a public establishment. Reform in 1993-6 defined the various market players, and introduced a range of rules and technical procedures needed for the development of the Moroccan financial market.
In March 1997, the Stock Exchange launched the electronic-based trading system followed by the central securities depository Maroclear in 1998. In end of the same year the Central Market and Block-Trade Market replaced the Official Market and Direct Transfer Market. Another milestone was in May 2001 when the settlement period for market transactions was reduced from T+5 to T+3.
The indices of the Casablanca Stock Exchange: Masi® and Madex® indices, as well as sector indices, return indices and currency indices, were launched in the beginning of 2002. During 2004, the Exchange adopted the float-weighted market capitalization method for calculating indices.
In April 2009, the Casablanca Stock Exchange officially adopted a corporate governance structure including a Board of Directors.
Although the market attracts interest from frontier market investors, there is not much coverage of the market in English, although the BMCE Bank International (www.bmce-intl.co.uk), affiliated to Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur (BMCE), does give the daily prices, and the Casablanca SE website also gives daily trades with 15 minute delay. BMCE is headquartered in London and Paris and on 1 September changed its name from MediCapital Bank as a specialist bank linking international finance with the growing opportunities in Africa and a network of offices in 18 countries including independent companies linked to BMCE or parts of the Bank of Africa network. In July 2008 it acquired Pall Mall Capital SAS, a corporate finance boutique specialising in transactions in Francophone African countries, to develop our Advisory division.

Car dealer offers shares before double listing in Tunis and Casablanca

Tunisian car retailer Ennakl Automobiles (www.ennakl.com), official distributor of Volkswagen, Seat, Audi and Porsche and part of the Group Princesse El Materi Holding, headed by Mohamed Sakher El Materi Holding, is offering 40% of its share capital for sale. This is preparation to a double listing of 30% of its capital on the Tunis stock exchange (www.bvmt.com.tn) and 10% on the Casablanca stock exchange (www.casablanca-bourse.com) in Morocco. The offer is open from 23 June – 2 July, according to a report on Tunis Online (www.tunisiaonlinenews.com).
The company is offering 12 million shares at 10.7 Tunisian dinars (US$7.06) in Tunisia and Dirham 64.22 ($7.16), for a total of TND 128.4 million ($84.7 million). Of the 9 million shares offered on the Tunis stock exchange, 4.4 million are secured for institutional investors.
According to the report, Mr. Mohamed Sakher El Materi, President of Ennakl, said the aim is to increase Princesse Holding group funds for developing its business interests, particularly in the financial sector. The press release says the group has created Banque Zitouna and is creating the Takaful insurance company. It also aims to bring the 2 exchanges closer and increase co-operation and financial exchanges between both countries.
Ennakl wants to expand during the next 5 years (2010-2014) by marketing Seat cars in 2010, Skoda in 2011 and diversifying its Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche brands. It also aims to boost its distribution network from 14 to to reach about 21 official agencies in 2011. It was established in Tunisia in 1965 and privatized in 2006, according to a company press release. It says it is the leading car distributor in the country and second in Africa for Volkswagen after South Africa.
Ennakl is expected to achieve almost TND 378 million turnover by 2010, up by 16% on TND 326 mln in 2009, and net profits TND 27 mln, up from TND 22 mln in 2009. It says it sold 9,617 light cars in 2009.
It would be the second car distributor on the Tunis bourse, after Artes.

Emerging Capital Partners targets North Africa construction

Emerging Capital Partners (ECP) announced on 27 July it has bought controlling stakes in Shoresal and Almes – both North African construction companies – for a total USD $26.2 million. ECP (www.ecpinvestments.com) is an international private equity firm focused on investing across the African continent with a nine-year track record and the first to raise more than $1.6 billion to invest in companies across Africa.

It is expanding its North African investments.

Thomas Gibian, chief executive officer of ECP, says:  “ECP has invested in various African engineering and construction companies since 2006, and we have long been evaluating opportunities in the North African market…Unlike many western markets, North African real estate and construction is generally driven by a lack of supply to meet the increasing demand from both foreign and domestic companies.”

In Algeria, ECP acquired a $13.8 million stake in Shoresal, a real estate development company, which will use ECP’s investment, in part, to finance the development of a 14-storey Class A office tower in the Bab Ezzouar business district of Algiers. According to the company’s research, demand for office space in Algeria’s major cities is approximately eight times greater than the current supply, driven by a tripling in the number of multinational companies since 2000.

The investment was made through ECP’s MENA Growth Fund LLC, which was established in September 2007 to capitalize on investment opportunities throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

In Morocco, ECP invested $12.4 million in Almes, the holding company of Entreprise Marocaine de Travaux (EMT) and Somadiaz. EMT specializes in public works infrastructure projects such as dams, levees and airports. Somadiaz is an equipment leasing company that provides specialized equipment to commercial and industrial clients. The companies will expand in Morocco and into neighbouring countries – such as Libya and Mauritania – where demand for public works and other construction services are also high. ECP’s investment is in partnership with Alliances Développement Immobilier, a leading integrated real estate and tourism group in Morocco.

The investment in Almes was made through the Moroccan Infrastructure Fund, a joint venture between ECP and Attijariwafa bank, which was established in December 2006 to capitalize on the ongoing reforms that are spurring economic growth in Morocco. It targets numerous sectors including telecoms, transportation, energy, power and water.

“ECP views the construction markets across North Africa as uniquely poised for growth,” said Vincent Le Guennou, executive vice president of ECP. “We believe the strong supply and demand imbalance in the sector is a compelling reason to invest.”