Investment Banking: All Eyes On Africa

Africa, the world’s newest and fastest-developing emerging market is becoming a magnet for investment banking for both multinationals as well as local players. The last couple of years have seen a flurry of activity that has opened up the continent’s capital markets and is providing the finance needed to accelerate the continent’s transformation into a […]


Africa, the world’s newest and fastest-developing emerging market is becoming a magnet for investment banking for both multinationals as well as local players. The last couple of years have seen a flurry of activity that has opened up the continent’s capital markets and is providing the finance needed to accelerate the continent’s transformation into a middle-income region.

In recent years, Africa’s frontier markets – notably Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia – have all received significant volumes of capital inflows, mirroring the surge in private capital flows to other emerging and developing countries in the past decade. Although such flows briefly reversed during the credit crunches of 2008–09, paltry interest rates in Europe, the US and Japan, along with a reduction of global risk aversion, have once again prompted yield-hungry investors to venture across the globe for attractive investment channels. Net private inflows totalled about $41bn during 2010, with South Africa accounting for over 40% of the total. Indeed, since the mid-2000s, net private capital flows to sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have been larger as a percent of GDP than in other developing regions. Global universal banks are forming closer ties with SSA, thus providing better links to international capital markets and trade networks. Prominent names include Barclays Capital, BNP Paribas, Calyon Bank, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank AG, JPMorgan, Nomura, Credit Suisse and UBS Global Asset Management. These world-class banks plan to expand their investment banking franchise in SSA.

One senior banker explained: “The main investment banking revenue pools will remain in South Africa for the next five years but the groundwork across Africa is being laid now.”

Multinationals are focused on high-margin businesses such as offshore syndications, project and structured trade financing and asset-backed securities. They also provide specialised advisory services for privatisations, cash management and custodial, global wealth management for high-net-worth individuals and institutional clients such as pension funds; they are involved in the placement of private debt and equity, as well as advising on mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and treasury products for commodity hedgers, including currency, credit and interest rate swaps. Most international firms are seeking new deals in the continent, whether it is arranging listings in London, New York or Toronto for pan-African blue chips, advising resource-rich states on creating Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) or raising private equity and debt through syndications or Eurobonds for mega-investment projects. One financier remarked: “With opportunities so spread out across SSA, coverage bankers have to be really focused on select countries and clients, and be sufficiently expert to market several products.”

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are preparing a global depositary receipt (GDR) for a 20% stake in Nigeria’s Dangote Cement, whose total market valuation at listing in London was $14bn. The above banks are also advising on the $1.1bn share offer on the London Stock Exchange for the Zambian arm of Indian-based miner Vedanta. US private equity firms Blackstone and Warburg Pincus – the joint owners of Kosmos Energy – have mandated Barclays Capital and Citi to prepare an initial public offering (worth $500m) on the New York Stock Exchange for Kosmos, which has a 23% stake in Ghana’s Jubilee oil field.

Sovereign bond issuance

Colin Coleman, head of Africa investment banking at Goldman Sachs, says: “Global investment banks, along with a wave of multinational corporations, are looking at sub-Saharan Africa outside South Africa with renewed interest, primarily because of one thing: growth.”

Some experts predict Africa’s growth could exceed China’s in the next two decades. Today, Africa’s total output is equal to that of Brazil or the Russian Federation. The collective GDP of Africa is predicted to reach $1.6 trillion by 2020 (5% of global GDP), compared to 2.4% in 2010. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reckons that seven of the world’s top-10 fastest-growing economies over the next five years will be in Africa.

The consumer-driven sectors (retailing, banking and telecoms) are growing two to three times faster than those in developed OECD regions – along with a burgeoning middle class. Many Africans are joining the ranks of the world’s consumers. The region already has more middle-class households (defined as those with annual incomes of $20,000 or higher) than India. By 2030, Africa’s top 18 cities could boost a combined spending power of $1.3 trillion.

Regional governments need more funds as higher growth rates have increased pressure on the transport, utilities, housing and other infrastructure sectors. A World Bank report Africa’s Infrastructure: A Time for Transformation (2009) estimated that $93bn (15% of the continent’s GDP) is needed annually over the next decade – covering power, transport, irrigation, water, sanitation and information communications technology (ICT) – about one third of which is for maintenance. The region currently spends over $45bn/year on infrastructure.

Some countries have tapped global markets to raise finance because official aid alone cannot fully pay for infrastructure development. Last year, 10 foreign-currency bonds were launched, of which five were led by South Africa. In the first half of 2011, both Nigeria and Senegal issued $500m, 10-year Eurobonds yielding 7% and 9.1% respectively. Citi and Deutsche Bank arranged the Nigerian debut bond, whilst Standard Bank and Standard Chartered were book runners on Senegal’s issue. Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia are poised to follow in the near term. London brokerage Ashmore expects bond issuance from Africa to double over the next two years. African papers carry higher yields.

Governments are increasingly tapping local-currency bond markets – for example, Kenya issued infrastructure bonds of up to 30 years in February 2011, raising KSh8bn ($75m). Lagos state is seeking to sell N60bn ($367m) in transport bonds and Cameroon planned to issue its second bonds of CFA Fr200bn ($406m) in the latter half of 20111. Lesotho and The Gambia have also issued debut bonds. The major investors are local commercial banks. Regulators are looking to boost secondary trading in government papers.

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana have the biggest domestic bond markets in SSA outside South Africa – with $15bn, $5.5bn and $1.3bn respectively outstanding at end March 2011.  

Landmark transactions

JPMorgan advised US retailer Wal-Mart on its $2.3bn takeover of fellow South African retailer Massmart (which has a good geographic spread). It also advised on the $1.2bn sale of 50% of Orascom Telecom Tunisia and Tullow Oil’s $1.5bn acquisition in Uganda – Africa’s newest oil producer. Other landmark deals in South Africa were Japan’s NTT’s acquisition of IT provider Dimension Data for $3.2bn and the $2.2bn merger between insurers Momentum and Metropolitan.

Euromoney magazine named JPMorgan as best M&A house in Africa. Not to be left behind, Morgan Stanley acted as book runner on the $1.6bn equity and mandatory convertible offering from AngloGold Ashanti, plus the $686m IPO of South Africa’s biggest private-sector hospital operator, Life Healthcare. Rival Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs advised on the steel giant ArcelorMittal South Africa’s $1.3bn Black Economic Empowerment deal with Ayigobi Consortium, as well as Anglo American over the sale of zinc assets in South Africa and Namibia to Indian-owned Vedanta Resources. Goldman Sachs also advised on South Africa’s outward investment in 2010, including the $1bn sale of a 50% stake in British Columbia shale natural gas assets – owned by Canadian energy independent Talisman – to petrochemicals firm Sasol. In Russia, it helped structure a $400m equity investment into Digital Sky Technologies by South African media firm Naspers, as part of Naspers’ strategy of overseas expansion.

India’s Bharti Airtel’s takeover of Kuwaiti telecoms firm Zain in 2010 was advised by Standard Chartered, which also underwrote $1.3bn of the $7.5bn syndication behind the buyout. The UK bank was also adviser to Brazilian miner Vale in its $2.5bn acquisition of a concession in Guinea, as well as book runner on the $1bn bond from AngloGold Ashanti. “We have a huge degree of confidence in the region. If a client wants to do something of scale in Africa, invariably we can take down a big exposure. That’s a huge differentiator,” said Stephen Priestley, co-head of Africa wholesale banking at Standard Chartered.

Russia’s Renaissance (operating in six African markets) was behind the $750m purchase of Zimbabwean national steel company Zisco by India’s Essar in 2010. It was joint adviser in Rwanda’s first ever IPO worth $30m for beverage firm BRALIRWA and local-currency offerings for Nigeria’s Skye Bank and energy firm Oando, as well as Kenya Commercial Bank and Standard Chartered Kenya. In addition, RenCap was book runner on IPOs on the London’s secondary market for Guinean miner Bellzone and Mozambique’s Ncondezi Coal – both for $50m.

Local boutiques

Local investment houses have also flourished. These include Lagos-based Afrinvest, Chapel Hill and Vetiva, while Nairobi-based Dyer & Blair is active in East Africa. Ecobank Capital (launched in 2010) is driving forward domestic-currency markets thanks to the parent company’s 750 branches and representative offices across 32 countries, recently in Angola, South Africa and Dubai (UAE).

South African groups boast investment banking capabilities on a par with their Western counterparts. Absa Capital helped structured bonds, notably AngloGold Ashanti’s 10-year and 30-year notes, totalling $1bn, and led debut 144a/RegS bonds for Eskom (power) and Transet (transport). In the local-currency market, Absa Capital arranged a deal for the South African division of BMW for about R2.5bn ($316m) and extended debt maturities of industrial group Barloworld into new three, four and seven-year bonds, totalling over R1bn ($126m), with a lower price coupon. In late 2010, Rand Merchant Bank co-financed Dutch commodities firm Trafigura’s $296m purchase of BP downstream assets in East and Southern Africa. Standard Bank was joint book runner of East Africa’s first Eurobond – a $300m five-year note for sub-regional development bank PTA. It also arranged a seven-year bond worth $550m for telecoms firm MTN.

The bank’s subsidiaries are equally active in their respective markets. For example, Stanbic IBTC (Nigeria) was joint lead manager on an N57.5bn ($352m) seven-year note for Lagos state (the largest sub-sovereign bond issue in Nigeria) as well as underwriting N50bn ($306m) and N17bn ($104m) bonds, respectively, for Bayelsa and Ebonyi states. In Kenya, CFC Stanbic was sole financial adviser and lead arranger in local-currency debt/equity raising for Kenya Airways totalling about $200m. Indigenous medium- and small-sized banks have also brokered various deals in 2010–11. Zambia National Commercial Bank arranged an $11m debt-for-equity swap for the country’s biggest coffee firm, Northern Coffee Corporation. Barclays Bank of Botswana raised $60m and $15m respectively in the form of initial public offerings (IPOs) for the Botswana Development Corporation and Cresta Marakanelo Hotel, the biggest hotel group. Meanwhile, Standard Chartered Tanzania arranged a $10m local-currency bond, backed by USAID, for the Tanzanian operation of Uganda’s micro-financier, Pride.

More recently, Ecobank Capital won a mandate for an oil-backed sovereign bond for Chad worth $220m in five-year notes. It was also lead adviser on the restructuring of Ghana’s Tema Oil Refinery. Referring to new lucrative openings in the region, Dele Babade, CEO of Ecobank Capital, remarked: “Never underestimate the opportunities in Africa.” During a visit to Rwanda, Dele Babade held a series of meetings that could generate as much as $600m worth of potential deals in project finance, equity placements and M&A.

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