The efforts of the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM Bank) to facilitate the establishment of a regional maritime company, The Sealink Project, has received a fresh boost with the signing of a financial grant with the African Development Bank (AfDB) for $302, 000 under the aegis of the Nigerian Technical Cooperation Fund (NTCF).
Roberts Orya, the Managing Director and CEO of NEXIM Bank, said that Sealink would mitigate some of the non-tariff barriers to trade, reducing the high transportation costs and excessive transit time that make intra-regional trade in West and Central Africa non- competitive and among the most expensive in the world, in terms of logistic costs.
Engage with Africa on a long-term basis, says Ecobank CEO
While giving the keynote address at the 4th Conference on managing risk in Africa, Ecobank Group CEO Albert Essien urged investors to be prepared to engage with African countries on a long- term basis and avoid abrupt changes in investment focus because of perceived instability in certain markets. He encouraged managing risks associated with doing business in Africa, including fiscal and monetary policy issues such as foreign exchange restrictions, transparency and compliance, political instability and corruption and resource and infrastructure challenges.
He went on to say that executives have six key factors to consider when entering an African market: understanding the local business culture; assessing which markets represent the best balance of risk and reward; finding and vetting appropriate local partners; understanding local market regulations; local environmental factors; and levels of technological development.
The Ecobank CEO advised setting up a risk review board with participation from senior management, and said this would help ensure the right level and scope of ongoing risk monitoring. Ecobank itself has been mired in legal battle recently with its former CEO, Thierry Tanoh, who was removed from his position in early 2014 and has since sued for wrongful termination and defamation.
Niger and ICD planning a Sukuk programme
The Government of Niger has signed an agreement with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), to set up a Sukuk programme amounting to CFA 150 billion ($256 million). The programme will be implemented in two equal phases of CFA 75 billion.
ICD will be the transaction advisor and global coordinator in the inaugural Sukuk offering for the Government of Niger, and will assist the Government in coordinating with the relevant advisors, consultants, agents, Government officers and the mandated lead managers.
"The ICD will do its best to see that the issuance is successful and hopes this will contribute to transform the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) Capital Market," Khaled Al Aboodi, CEO of the ICD, said.
Nigerian consortium sells Orient Bank back to Ugandans
The founders of Orient Bank have repurchased the bank that was on the verge of takeover by the Central Bank of Uganda due to posting consecutive losses since the takeover by Nigerian Consortia Bank PHB five years ago.
"Today, Orient starts a new phase of growth. This will create more opportunities for young Uganda professionals looking for a career in banking," Founder Ketan Morjaria said. The Morjarias now hold 49 per cent of the bank, private equity firm 8 Miles holds has 42 per cent, and the remaining nine per cent is held by Alemayehu Fisseha, the owner of Prime General Supplies.
Liberty sets aside more than $87 million for African purchases
Liberty Holdings Ltd., the fourth-largest insurer in South Africa and part of the Standard Bank Group, said it has more than ZAR 1 billion ($87 million) to make acquisitions in Africa and plans to raise more funds if needed, according to Bloomberg.
"We intend to raise capital for large acquisitions, so if a big one lands then we'll probably do a combination of debt and equity," Thabo Dloti, CEO of Liberty Holdings told Bloomberg. "The big issue is bolstering our East African businesses. We also need sizable businesses in West Africa-- we need insurance and we also need asset management in Nigeria."
Bank Windhoek re-launches iBank
Bank Windhoek announced plans to launch its newly re-designed internet banking services, iBank, in March 2015 to provide easy and convenient services to its clients when making internet banking transactions.
Bank Windhoek clients will now be able to make payments to any bank in Namibia or South Africa, which is registered with Namclear or Bankserv, pay third parties, transfer funds to other internal accounts, view and print account statements on all linked accounts, stop cheque payments and cancel post-dated transactions.
"The new iBank platform was designed with the clients in mind as they were consulted during the designing process to ensure that the new service, with its new design and added functionalities, meets their needs and expectations," said Harrycio Landsberg, Business Development Officer: Electronic Channels at Bank Windhoek.
AfrAsia Bank withdraws from Zimbabwe
AfraAsia voluntarily surrendered its Zimbabwean banking license to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe after the Bank said it would not meet minimum capital requirement of $25 million.
The Bank, formerly Kingdom Bank, is the second to shut its doors in Zimbabwe this year following Allied Bank's closure, also due to lack of capital. AfrAsia and Allied were two of six banks found in December 2014 to be under-capitalised--Capital Bank Limited and Interfin Banking Corporation closed in 2014 while Metbank and Tetrad Investment Bank are still going, with Tetrad under provisional judicial management. AfrAsia attempted capital raising last year, including partnering with Imara Capital Finance on a medium-term secured note.
New sustainability fund launched, aspiring to $1 billion capital
The ambitious new Sustainability | Finance | Real Economies fund (SFRE, pronounced Sapphire) has been launched, initiated by the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV).
"SFRE is a concrete example of positive financial innovation focused on meeting human needs in the real economy." said Peter Blom, Chair of the Board for GABV and CEO of Triodos Bank. "Our research identified approximately 2,000 banks with this focus having assets of $600 billion and equity of $65 billion. They represent a significant, growing, positive-money movement that requires and deserves new sources of growth capital."
SFRE CEO Jim Prouty said that, "Investors have already committed over $40 million to SFRE, which is an open-ended investment vehicle. Responding to a dynamic and growing demand for capital, our ambition is to mobilize up to $1 billion over the next 10 years."
Banco Angolano de Investimentos' deposit ratings now negative, says Moody's
Moody's Investors Service has changed the outlook to negative from stable on the Ba3 deposit ratings of Banco Angolano de Investimentos, S.A. following Angola's sovereign rating's bump down to negative.
Oil price decline has driven Angola's sovereign rating to negative outlook, impacting the country's economic growth and the Government's finances. The Bank is tied to the Government's welfare through significant holdings of Government-related assets--over 50 per cent, or more than five times shareholders' equity, Moody's estimates.
However the ratings remain unchanged for now, largely due to the Bank's 'resilient credit profile, with a strong deposit-funded corporate banking franchise, liquid balance sheet, and significant capital buffers to absorb loan-related losses,' Moody's stated.
New microfinance bank licensed in Kenya
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has granted a licence to Daraja Microfinance Bank Limited (Daraja MFB), making it the tenth microfinance bank in the country.
There are seven nationwide microfinance banks (Faulu Kenya MFB, Kenya Women MFB, SMEP MFB, REMU MFB, Rafiki MFB, Century MFB and SUMAC MFB) and two community-based MFB (Uwezo MFB and U&I MFB). Daraja MFB is a Kenyan-owned company limited by shares and intends to operate within the Dagoretti Division, Nairobi County.
Guaranty Trust Bank secures $175 million financing from IFC
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, announced a $175 million loan financing package to Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, to support its expansion program across all sectors of the Bank's operations.
GT Bank said that it will use the funds to expand its lending to sectors that drive economic growth and job creation in Nigeria. The financing comprises $100 million for IFC's own account and $75 million through the IFC Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program, a new syndications platform that offers institutional investors the ability to passively participate in IFC's future senior loan portfolio. GT Bank currently has a network of 233 branches across Nigeria as well as nine subsidiaries and presence in eight African countries and in the United Kingdom.
Orange and Airtel partner on West African transfers
The two telecommunications companies have linked up to allow users in Cote d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso to send money to customers of either provider. This partnership is in line with the 'Orange Money International Transfer' established in 2013 offer that the company has implemented in Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire and Mali to send cross-border transfers.
"Following the successful launch of Orange Money International Transfer...we want to develop new ways to allow our customers to send and receive money between countries in the West African Economic and Monetary Union," said Thierry Millet, Orange's Senior VP Mobile Financial Services and NFC.
Societe Generale becomes shareholder in MCB Mozambique
Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) Group and Societe Generale signed an agreement on 18 March for Societe Generale to become a shareholder in the Group's Mozambique branch, subject to the approval of the Central Bank of Mozambique. The banks did not disclose the size of Societe Generale's share, but the two partnered in 2003 on the joint-venture management of Banque Francaise Commerciale Ocean-Indien (BFCOI).
"This association with Societe Generale, our longstanding partner in BFCOI, will provide important resources to MCB Mozambique. It will enable the bank to boost its operations and widen its network of branches while consolidating MCB Group's footprint in Africa," Pierre Guy NoE1/2l, MCB Group CEO, said.
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