African Capital Markets Shows Significant Decline in 2016—PwC
By Dipo Olowookere
Twenty-sixteen marked a challenging year for African equity markets in the wake of lower economic growth and political upheaval around the globe, largely as a result of the US elections cycle and the Brexit vote.
African equity capital markets (ECM) broke a streak of three successive years of growth, recording a decline in overall ECM activity of 28% from 2015 in the number of transactions and 33% from 2015 in terms of capital raised.
PwC issued its 2016 Africa Capital Markets Watch publication today, which analyses equity and debt capital markets transactions that took place between 2012 and 2016 on exchanges throughout Africa, as well as transactions by African companies on international exchanges.
ECM transactions included in the analysis comprise capital raising activities, whether initial public offerings (IPOs) or further offers (FOs), by African companies on exchanges worldwide, as well as those made by non-African companies on African exchanges. Debt capital markets (DCM) transactions analysed include debt funding raised by African companies and public institutions.
Darrell McGraw, PwC Capital Markets Partner based in Lagos, says: “Many African economies, in particular those dependent on resources suffered in a low growth environment, significantly reducing ECM activity, and a continued lack of clarity around foreign exchange risk in Nigeria further discouraged foreign investment.
“Although overall ECM activity decreased in 2016 in terms of both transaction volume and value as compared to 2015, there was a significant increase in ECM activity, particularly IPOs, in the second half of the year, indicating the cautious optimism of issuers and investors as the year progressed.”
Since 2012, there have been 450 African ECM transactions raising a total of $44.9bn, up 8% in terms of capital raised over the previous five year period 2011-2015.
African IPO Market
Overall, $1.5bn was raised in IPO proceeds in 2016, and while 2016 saw a decrease from the prior year, there has been an overall upward trend in IPO activity over the five year period.
Over the past five years there have been 110 IPOs raising $6.5 billion by African companies on exchanges worldwide and non-African companies on African exchanges.
In 2016, capital raised from IPOs by companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) increased by 25% in US dollar terms as compared to 2015, mainly driven by a comparatively stronger rand and three large listings by Dis-Chem, the Liberty Two Degrees real estate investment trust (REIT) and one of South Africa’s largest private equity firms, Ethos. It was also a record year for the JSE’s AltX, which saw the secondary listing of the fledgling Mauritian private equity investor, Universal Partners, generate proceeds of more than five times greater than in 2015.
Capital raised from IPOs by companies on exchanges other than the JSE decreased by 22% as compared to 2015, largely driven by relatively smaller Egyptian IPOs in 2016. IPO activity on the Egyptian Stock Exchange (EGX) decreased significantly – by 72% in terms of value of IPO proceeds – as companies delayed listing plans in anticipation of an improved economic outlook following the August 2016 announcement of a potential stabilisation programme by the IMF and the free float of the Egyptian pound in November 2016.
Elsewhere on the continent, there were some significant increases in IPO capital raised on exchanges in Ghana, Morocco and Botswana compared to 2015, due to partial privatisations of state-owned entities.
Coenraad Richardson, PwC Capital Markets Partner based in Johannesburg, adds: “The JSE retains the leading position in the African capital markets, with capital raised from IPOs by companies on the JSE representing 42% of the total African IPO capital and 34% of the total number of transactions since 2012.” In terms of value over the past five years, the next-largest value of IPO proceeds raised was on the EGX at $1.1 billion, followed by the Nigerian Stock Exchange at $751 million.
On a sector basis, the financial services sector continued to dominate the African IPO market during 2016 with 45% of total value and 55% of total volume, followed by consumer goods and industrials with a total value of 31% and 13% respectively.
African FO market
Over the past five years, there have been 340 FOs raising $38.4 billion on both African and international exchanges. As was the case with the IPO market, FO activity was hit by a significant decrease in terms of transaction volume and value, down 27% and 34% respectively. Andrew Del Boccio, PwC Capital Markets Partner based in Johannesburg, notes: “The decline in FO activity after a period of sustained growth reflects many of the challenges and uncertainties in Africa and around the globe.”
In terms of geography, 85% of FO proceeds in 2016 were raised either by South African companies or by foreign companies listed on the JSE. However, the nature of these FOs shows a mixed landscape–a significant portion of funds were raised for business restructuring or divesture by foreign investors looking to monetise or exit their African investments, or by South African companies seeking to diversify their portfolios via acquisition of assets outside of Africa.
Both during 2016 and over the five-year period, the vast majority of FO activity was from sub-Saharan countries representing 78% and 81% in total FOs volume, respectively, and 96% and 95%, respectively of total FO value.
Between 2012 and 2016, FO capital raised on the JSE represented 87% of total African FO capital raised and 71% of total transaction volume. In terms of movements from 2015, Nigerian FO activity dried up, with no further offers in 2016, mainly as a result of the ongoing recession and exchange rate environment. Tunisia also saw a significant decline in activity based on value of proceeds raised.
On a sector basis, the financial services sector contributed 47% of total FO value, followed by the healthcare sector at 12%.
During the five-year period from 2012, average FO capital raised per transaction of $113 million remained well above the average proceeds raised from IPOs of $59 million, as a number of large, seasoned issuers, such as Naspers, Aspen, Mediclinic and Steinhoff, among others, tapped markets 17 times for proceeds in excess of $500 million; only one IPO, that of Seplat in 2014 exceeded the $500 million threshold.
African debt markets
Debt capital market (DCM) activity, in particular Eurobond activity, represents only a portion of the total debt raised in Africa, with a large component of debt funding sourced from traditional bank finance, other lending arrangements with investors or debt raised in local currency on local exchanges.
Eurobond activity by African corporates continued to decline in 2016, with investment grade and high-yield proceeds from Eurobond issuances falling by 21% to $4.5 billion, and the number of issuances by 53% to just seven, including some large issuances by South African telecommunications provider, MTN, and Nigerian telecommunications infrastructure company, IHS, which raised $800 million in sub-Saharan Africa’s largest-ever high-yield bond. Proceeds from all seven of these 2016 issuances were raised in US dollars.
Domestic debt markets also played a more significant role in the overall DCM story in 2016 than in previous years, particularly in Nigeria, as companies and governments across the continent retreated from risks related to foreign currency funding in 2016 and as global appetite for African debt securities declined.
Del Boccio concludes: “Despite challenging times, we expect to see improved conditions around capital markets activity in 2017, continuing the momentum built in the final two months of 2016, including an increase in ECM activity by companies on the JSE as well as by companies pursuing privatisation plans through the capital markets in Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania and the BRVM region.”
Unilever Nigeria Rejigs Business Model to Reduce Exposure to Naira Devaluation, Liquidity
**Stops Home Care, Skin Cleansing Products
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Unilever Nigeria Plc has announced that it would stop producing home care and skin cleansing products as it makes efforts to reposition its business model so as to “accelerate growth and sustain profitability while enhancing its ability to meet consumer needs.”
In a notice to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited, the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) firm said the exit from the two markets would happen this year.
According to the century-old company, this action is expected to result in an overall improvement in profitability, growth and a more sustainable business.
“The exit of these two categories over 2023 will boost the vision to make Unilever Nigeria great, building on the impressive progress made in other key aspects of the business, and is envisaged to result in an overall improvement in profitability, growth and a more sustainable Unilever Nigeria business,” a part of the statement signed by the company secretary,” Abidemi Ademola said.
The firm further explained that “These changes will reposition the company to better meet the needs of consumers, shareholders, and employees.
“This will involve repurposing the portfolio by exiting the Home Care and Skin Cleansing categories to concentrate on higher growth opportunities, strengthening business operations with measures to digitize and simplify processes, and focusing more on business continuity measures that reduce exposure to devaluation and currency liquidity in our business model.”
Russia’s Politics of Writing Off Africa’s Debt
By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
During the International Parliamentary conference Russia-Africa held March 19-20 in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a speech at the plenary session, reminded African parliamentarians that the partnership between Russia and African countries had gained additional momentum and is reaching a whole new level. He said the current geopolitical changes present an opportunity to build on the strong momentum in boosting economic cooperation.
“We are ready to shape the global agenda jointly, strengthen fair and equal interstate relations, and improve mechanisms for mutually beneficial economic cooperation. Thanks to our assistance, many industrial enterprises have been built on the continent, entire industries have been created, and vital infrastructure and social facilities have been built. At the same time, Russia wrote off the debt to African states of more than $20 billion,” Putin emphasized in a copy of his text posted on the Kremlin’s website.
Putin further offered spiteful goal-setting policy outlines and some aspects of lofty Russia’s economic policy directions for Africa. Most of these directions considered significant have, over these years, featured prominently in all his previous speeches on Russia’s relations with Africa. But what strikes many listeners and readers relates to historical references intended to draw on sympathy and enlist support from Africa. By simple description, Africa consists of 55 member states. Africa is not a country but a continent; thus, Africa’s debt could mean the entire of Africa.
Long seen as a strategic partner, Russia has opened a new chapter and started building better relations with Africa, and most significantly, made its move by writing off a number of African countries’ debts accumulated from the Soviet era. After the Soviet collapse, Russia first attempted to collect its debts. Indeed, these Soviet-leaning debt-trapped African countries were unable to pay them (these debts) back to Russia.
During the Soviet era, Moscow forged alliances with African countries, especially those that supported its communist idealogy, supplied them with military equipment and offered technical assistance on a bilateral basis. In particular, supplied arms went to Angola, Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Namibia, Mozambique, Morocco and South Africa. That Soviet-era form of diplomatic engagement left those African countries indebted to an amount of $20 billion, according to official documents.
In an interview with TASS, Russian State News Agency, ahead of the first Russia-Africa Summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin explained the Soviet’s role in the liberation of the continent and support for the struggle of their people against colonialism, racism and apartheid. In addition, the enormous help offered to those African countries to protect their independence and sovereignty, gain statehood, support national economies, and create capable armed forces for Africa.
“Our African agenda is positive and future-oriented. We do not ally with someone against someone else, and we strongly oppose any geo-political ‘games’ involving Africa,” he said during that interview and categorically referred to the debts write-off to Africa. “Let me point out that in the post-Soviet period, at the end of the 20th century, Russia cancelled $20 billion of African countries’ debts to the Soviet Union. This was both an act of generosity and a pragmatic step because many of the African states were unable to service those debts. We, therefore, decided that it would be best for everyone to start our cooperation from scratch,” said President Putin during that interview in 2019.
On 23 October 2019, President Vladimir Putin and the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, African Union Chairman and Co-Chairman of the Russia-Africa Summit Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took part in the Russia-Africa Economic Forum. During the plenary session held under the theme “Russia and Africa: Uncovering the Potential for Cooperation” and attended by top officials, politicians and business leaders, and almost 2,000 Russian and foreign companies, the question of debts write-off as the basis for economic growth and for developing long-term relations featured prominently.
“Economic issues are an integral part and a priority of Russia’s relations with African countries. Developing close business ties serves our common interest, contributes to sustainable growth, helps to improve quality of life and solves numerous social problems,” Putin said, and then added, “Russia provides systematic assistance to developing the African continent. Our country is participating in an initiative to ease the African countries’’ debt burden. To date, the total amount of write-offs stands at over $20 billion. Joint programmes have been launched with a number of countries involving the use of debts to finance national economic growth projects.”
On 5 September 2017, President Putin attended a meeting of BRICS leaders with delegation heads from invited states, including the Heads of State and Governments of Egypt, Tajikistan, Mexico, Guinea and Thailand. The meeting discussed the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and prospects for further developing their partner relations. Before the meeting, the BRICS leaders and delegation heads from invited states had a joint photo session. President Putin informed that “Russia has been working actively to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We have written off over $20 billion of African countries’ debts through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.”
On 30 January 2015, President Putin sent his greetings to the 24th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government. The message stated in part: “The Russian Federation’s relations with our African partners are developing positively. We have established a substantial political dialogue and work actively together in international affairs. Russia’s decision to write off much of African countries’ debt and the preferential conditions we offer the majority of Africa’s traditional export goods open up new possibilities for trade, economic and investment cooperation.”
On 27 March 2013, in Durban, South Africa, in a speech at a meeting with Heads of African states, President Putin explicitly noted, “Over the course of many decades, Russia has provided direct assistance to the African continent. I would like to note that we have written off over 20 billion dollars in debt; we have written off far more than any other G8 nation. We plan to take additional measures to ease the debt burden.”
According to the Russian leader, the BRICS group’s companies are working actively in the African market; there is a growing influx of investments into various sectors in Africa’s economies, from traditional mineral extraction and farming to high technologies and banking. He added BRICS countries are championing the rights and interests of Africa and other nations with emerging economies, speaking out in favour of increasing their role and influence in the global governance system, particularly international financial and economic organizations.
On 28 June 2002, in Kananaskis, Canada, there was a media conference after the G8 Summit. There was one specific question regarding Africa. The G8 approached the plan submitted by African countries in a creative way. What can be Russia’s role and place in addressing the global problem of combating poverty?
President Vladimir Putin answered: “As regards Russia, it has traditionally had very good relations with the African continent. We are very perceptive of the problems on the African continent. I must say that Russia has been making a very tangible contribution to solving Africa’s problems. Suffice it to say Russia is making a big contribution to the initiative adopted here, a multi-lateral initiative, including the writing off part of African debts. Of all the African debts that are to be written off, 20% are debts to the Russian Federation. That is $26 billion.”
On 21 May 2007, The Kremlin made available Excerpts of the Transcript of the Cabinet Meeting. Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin on the meeting of G8 finance ministers. The issue is about supporting and helping African countries. Minister Kudrin told the cabinet meeting, “We discussed the implementation of a number of initiatives that should improve the management and transparency of public finances in those countries, including by better employing revenues from the extraction of mineral resources in Africa to fight against poverty.”
“We discussed responsible lending and relations with countries that have benefited from debt relief. We are writing off debt, reducing these countries’ debt burden, and meanwhile, their opportunity to incur new debts is increasing simultaneously. And a number of countries are starting to make huge loans to these countries, taking advantage of the fact that they are no longer in debt and lending to them at such a rate that these countries will once again require help. These instances exist. In fact, this practice is liable to be perceived in a negative way. A number of leading countries in the world are engaged in this practice,” he said.
At Sochi’s summit, Putin’s announcement about the “debt write-off” was, therefore, nothing new. Africa’s debts write-off debt has been played for years. It has, several times since his appointment, re-occurred in Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s speeches; these texts are available at the official website of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
He said: “Russian development assistance is invariably aimed at solving the most pressing challenges faced by the countries in need. In these efforts, we are neither trying to lecture our partners on how they should build their lives nor impose political models and values. Poverty eradication is the key objective of Russia’s state policy in the area of international development assistance at the global level.” (Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the UN Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, New York, September 27, 2015 (1814-27-09-2015).
“Debt relief is an effective tool in this regard. Under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC), our country has written off over $20 billion of the principal debt owed by African countries alone. Russia also contributes to reducing the debt burden of the poorest countries beyond the HIPC through debt-for-aid swaps. We also take other steps towards the settlement of a debt owed to Russia, both within multilateral and bilateral formats,” he added.
As it is known, Russia has written off over $20 billion in debt to African states. We are undertaking steps to further ease the debt burden of Africans, including through the conclusion of agreements based on the scheme “debt in exchange for development,” according to the Foreign Minister (Speech by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the reception on the occasion of Africa Day, Moscow, 22 May 2014 (1243-22-05-2014).
In April 2014, President Vladimir Putin approved the new State policy concept of the Russian Federation in the area of contribution to international development. Its practical implementation will contribute to the build-up of our participation in the area of assistance to the development of states of the African continent, according to the report posted on the website.
“Russia has done a great deal to alleviate the debt burden, particularly in the framework of the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and in writing off multilateral debts to the IMF and the International Development Association. The overall amount of the African countries’ indebtedness cancelled by us, including on a bilateral basis, exceeds 20 billion dollars, of which about one-half in the last two years,” Lavrov told the gathering on Africa Day in 2008 (Transcript of Remarks by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov at Reception on Occasion of Africa Day, Moscow, May 26, 2008 (751-26-05-2008).
As far back as May 2007, the Foreign Ministry showed interest in Africa’s debts. “We are helping our African partners reduce the burden of foreign debt. We have written off African debt within the framework of the initiative to reduce the indebtedness of the poorest nations,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at May 25 gathering of a group of ambassadors, diplomats and ministry officials marking Africa Day.
The move signalled Russia’s intention to fulfil its commitments made at that time in Group of Eight (G8) meetings, as well as paving the way to increased trade with the African continent. It was then signed into law on March 10, ratifying the agreement between Russia and African countries it aided during the Soviet era. Russia continued discussions on a full debt write-off on a bilateral basis, and African countries owed nearly $20 billion. The debt was primarily through weapon deliveries, according to the official transcript.
“The most important aspect of economic cooperation in our foreign policy is to encourage African countries to trade with us and to not only depend on development aid. Always looking for aid makes these countries less productive, and funds for projects end up in foreign banks at the expense of the suffering population,” Lavrov said.
In March 2019, President Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Commission for Military-Technical Cooperation with Foreign States, and the Kremlin’s website transcript pointed to the geographic reach of military-technical cooperation as constantly expanding, with the number of partners already in more than 100 countries worldwide.
Since then, President Putin has repeatedly called for renewed efforts not only to preserve but also to strengthen Russia’s leading position in the global arms market, primarily in the high-tech sector, amid tough competition. He further called for reliance on the rich experience in this sphere and building up consistent military technology cooperation with foreign states.
“We strictly observe international norms and principles in this area. We supply weapons and military equipment solely in the interests of security, defence and anti-terrorism efforts. In each case, we thoroughly assess the situation and try to predict the developments in the specific region. There are no bilateral contracts ever targeted against third countries, against their security interests,” he explained.
According to the Kremlin website, Russia targeted global export contracts worth $50 billion in 2018. Russia’s export priority is to expand its scope and strengthen its position in the market.
Over the past years, strengthening military-technical cooperation has been a strong part of the foreign policy of the Russian Federation. Russia has signed bilateral military-technical cooperation agreements with many African countries. On the other hand, Moscow’s post-Cold War relations with Africa undoubtedly, lean toward military support and arms trade. Analysis by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) indicates that between 2014 and 2018, Russia accounted for 49% of arms imports to North Africa and 28% to Sub-Saharan Africa.
Africa has started accumulating debts. For example, Johan Burger’s article details crucial information in relation to Russia’s military interests in Africa. Russia has established or intends to establish military bases in Sudan along the Red Sea Coast, Somaliland, and Egypt. Another publication highlights Russia’s military bases in Madagascar, Mozambique, and Guinea. Lately, the Central African Republic intends to host a Russian military base.
October 2019, the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, African Union Chairman and Co-Chairman of the Russia-Africa Summit, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, noted in his speech at the plenary session of the Russia-Africa Economic Forum: Africa welcomes the efforts to encourage an open door policy and cooperation with its partners with a view to making a breakthrough in developing its economy. Russia and other foreign countries, as well as international financial organizations, have to develop cooperation and invest in Africa.
The Egyptian leader urged international and regional financial organizations to take part in funding Africa’s economic growth and to give it financial guarantees on consolidating its economic potential. This would help promote trade and investment. He further urged foreign countries to grant African states generous terms for their projects and development programmes, which would help Africa reach its dream – to embark on the road of progress, modernization and sustainable development.
Before concluding his speech, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi emphasized that cooperation with Africa must be based on common interests in the protection of African property, which would allow Africa to promote comprehensive sustainable development by carrying out three major goals.
First, it is necessary to accelerate economic reforms and create a businesslike atmosphere by establishing close partnerships with the private sector. Second, it is essential to implement social justice principles with the broad participation of society. Third, it is necessary to consolidate peace and stability in accordance with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
The 15-member UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution welcoming AU initiatives for infrastructure development and pledging support for “African solutions to African problems” in an attempt to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Significantly noting that African Union officials have repeatedly urged African leaders to prioritize Africa’s Agenda 2063 – a strategic framework for delivering on Africa’s goal for inclusive and sustainable development – and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
CBN Hikes Interest Rate to 18% to Tame Inflation
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has voted to increase the benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points, bringing it to 18.00 per cent from 17.50 per cent.
This was disclosed by the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, on Tuesday while reading the communiqué of the 290th MPC meeting.
Mr Emefiele said the committee voted to keep the asymmetric corridor at +100 and -500 basis points around the MPR.
He also disclosed that the MPC voted to keep the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 32.5 per cent, as well as the Liquidity Ratio at 30 per cent.
The tightening of the rate, according to the apex bank governor, is expected to curtail inflation, which currently stands at 21.91 per cent as of February 2023 compared to 21.82 per cent in January.
Speaking on the Naira redesign policy, Mr Emefiele explained that the bank aligns itself with the Supreme Court’s judgement as currency in circulation (redesigned naira) is about N1 trillion.
Earlier today, Business Post reported that official statistics from the apex bank put the total at N982.09 billion.
He said that the bank would continue to pump more currency into the system but with caution so as to cushion the hardships faced by Nigeria while also seeking to mop up cash in circulation.
The central bank chief expressed confidence in the nation’s commercial banks, stating that they have remained resilient with the capital requirement at 13 per cent while non-performing loans stood at 4.2 per cent and the cash reserve of the banks rising to N14 trillion.
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