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Barclays 2019 H1 skyrocket to 49 % growth

Barclays Bank of Botswana, the country’s second largest by market share has realized an impressive financial cruise as it builds up final transformation into a full ABSA trading outfit. The Banks’s financial results for the half period year ended 30 June 2019 mirrors a glittering 49 percent statutory upswing in profit before tax to close the year P387 million from P260 million registered in 2018 half year.

According to Barclays the performance is mainly attributable to growth in income, contained costs and favorable credit losses. “Despite the challenging environment we operate in, a steady growth in income across the business segments relative to the previous year has characterized our performance for the period under review,” said Barclays Managing Director, Keabetswe Pheko-Moshagane when announcing the financial results in Gaborone this week.

Barclays’s total income from operations realized 9 percent  growth year on year translating to an increase of P67 million, this in particular according to the MD  was bolstered by Balance sheet growth of 6% and an increase in net fees as well as commission income increase of 5% year on-year. “We continued to drive momentum across all our key segments to negate the effects of compressed margins arising from an increase in cost of funding,” she said.

Financial figures indicate that net Interest income increased by 8 percent year on year, mainly driven by balance sheet growth. Mogashane further noted the business remained resilient in its selected market segments and continued to drive credit growth with operating costs being contained resulting  into a  cost to income ratio of 53 percent for the period ended 30 June 2019.

“This is in line with our strategy to achieve cost to income ratio of lower 50’s.  We incurred total costs of P431 million on a statutory basis representing an increase of 8 percent year on year on a normalized view costs grew by 4 percent We continue to seek opportunities to realize cost efficiencies to ensure a sustainable business operation,” she explained.

On credit losses  Barclays  Bank managed to compress figures by 110 percent when compared to  previous half year ,  ending the June 2019 half year period  with an overall net recovery of P8 million. “Our year to date expected credit losses performance has benefited from a significant recovery from one of our corporate clients, our enhanced collections capability and conservative credit extension to high risk sectors,” added the Barclays MD.

Deliberating on the bank’s financial position Barclays Finance Director Mumba Kalifungwa revealed that Loans and advances to customers grew 12 percent year on year to P12.8 billion from P11.4 billion. “The growth in loans was realized across all business segments as we continue to focus on client penetration and acquisition to drive up our volumes,” he said.

Customer liabilities increased by 7 percent year on year to P13 billion from P12 billion driven by positive growth across our business segments. “Our balance sheet position remains solid at a total financial position of P17.9 billion, with strong liquidity and capital adequacy levels. Barclay’s   regulatory capital position stood at P2.5 billion representing a ratio of 18 percent against the regulatory limit of 15 percent and liquid assets ratio was well above the regulatory minimum of 10 percent.”

Zooming into segments financial performance, Barclays Finance Boss explained that the first half of 2019 has seen restrained growth in the economy which resulted the bank’s Corporate Investment Banking segment revenue only growing by 6 % year on year. “We have not seen much activity from the much talked about government spending and it has not emerged as a driver of the economy, although there is growth in other sectors,” he said.

Non-interest income went up by 8% driven by growth in transaction volumes in the bank’s CIB markets business. “There has been a recovery of a balance due from corporate during the period which has led to a positive variance on the expected credit losses line, and as a result of this, corporate segment profit is significantly up year on year,” said Barclays Finance Director.

The sectors that have performed well in this period include wholesale and retail, hospitality, healthcare and telecommunications. Natural resource focus has shifted from diamonds as evidenced by lower production and sales in the first six months of 2019, although there is renewed interest in base metals and coal.

The Retail and Business Banking space made significant progress towards the delivery of its strategy. Growth of 16 percent was registered in loans and advances to customers, which accounted for 9 percent growth in the net interest-income. Deposits due to customer grew by 14 percent year on year. Net fee and commission income increased year on year by 6 percent, on the backdrop of increased transactional volumes and increased uptake of the bank’s digital channels.

“In order to provide instant benefits to our customers when they transact at various merchants outlets, we have signed new partnership agreements, our customers can now enjoy discounts at merchants such as restaurants, hotels, clothing stores as well as health and beauty spas. One of the key components of our strategy is to offer convenience to our customers when transacting,” explained Mumba Kalifungwa.

The Finance Boss added that there has been good growth in both the registrations and usage of Digital channels such as mobile, internet and the Barclays application. “The branches remain pivotal to our distribution strategy,” he said. Speaking to the outlook and future prospects Barclays Managing Director, Keabetswe Pheko-Moshagane noted that as the bank continues with its journey towards re-branding to Absa, more emphasis will be on ensuring that everyone tags along. “Our commitment towards our employees, customers, communities and shareholders remains our highest priority. We remain brave and passionate and ready as we bring the possibilities for our stakeholders to life,” she said.

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Pula smiles at COVID-19 vaccine

25th November 2020
COVID-19 vaccine

A squeaky and glittering metaphoric smile was the look reflected from the Pula against the greenback this week and money market researchers lean this on optimism following Monday’s announcement of another Covid-19 vaccine which is said to have boosted emerging market economies.

With other emerging market currencies, the Pula too reacted to optimism and fanfare on the new Covid-19 vaccine against the weakening US dollar which has been losing its shine since the uncertainty laden US elections.

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Choppies high on JSE rollercoaster volatility

25th November 2020
CHOPPIES

After bouncing back into the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) last week Friday, following a year of being in the freezer, the Choppies stock started this week with much fluidity.

Choppies was suspended in both the Botswana Stock Exchange and its secondary listing at the JSE for failure to publish financial results. Choppies suspension on Botswana Stock Exchange was lifted on 27 July 2020. On Friday last week, when suspension was being lifted, Choppies explained that this came into fruition “following extensive engagement with the JSE.”

Choppies stock, prior to suspension, hit a mammoth decline in value of more than 60 percent, especially in September 2018. Waking from a 24 month freezer, last week the Choppies share price was at R0.64 and the stock did not make any movement.

However, Monday was the day when Choppies stock moved vibrantly, albeit volatile. Choppies’ value was on a high volatile mood on Monday, reaching highs of 200 percent. At noon, the same Monday, the Choppies share had reached R1.05. Before taking an uphill movement, Choppies stock slightly slipped by 2 cents. But the Choppies share rode up high and by lunch time the stock had reached the day’s summit of R2.00 and that was at 13:30 when investors were buying the stock for lunch.

The same eventful Monday saw gloom on the faces of Choppies rivals, when Choppies gained by 220.31 percent around lunch time its rivals in the JSE Food & Drug Retailers sector were licking wounds. Spar lost 2.94 percent, Pick Pay fell by 2.43 percent, Shoprite 7.52 percent and Dis-Chem 1.98 percent. The only gainer was Clicks by a paltry 0.51 percent.

In an interview with BusinessPost, Choppies sponsors at the JSE PSG Capital Managing Director Johan Holtzhausen explained that the retailer’s stock was in high demand after a long suspension. He said when a company list or a suspension is lifted the market needs to find itself on the pricing of the share.

“Initially when the suspension was lifted there were more buyers than sellers. As far as we could see this created a shortage of shares so to speak and resulted in the price at which the shares traded going to R1.20 and eventually R2.05 before finding its level around R0.80 sent from a JSE perspective.

This is marked dynamics and reflect that there are investors that are positive about the stock in the long run. This is a snapshot over a short period and one requires a longer period to draw further conclusions,” said Holtzhausen in an interview talking about the Choppies stock.

On Monday this week where the Choppies value grew by 200 percent, the stock took a turn looking down, closing the day at R0.87 from a high of R2.00. According to local stockbroker Motswedi Securities on Monday while there was no movement by Choppies in the local stock exchange as the retailer appeared on the board as 141,000 shares traded at P0.60 each.

However in Choppies’ secondary listing the stock price rallied to over 200 percent during intraday trading on Monday before losing steam and declining to around R0.87 share.

Before press yesterday Choppies opened the market with the stock starting the day at R0.80 then went flat for few hours before taking a slide downward, dropping 5 cents in 30 minutes. Choppies then went flat at R0.75 for 50 minutes yesterday before going up at 10:20 am where it nearly recovered the open day price of 80 cents, but was shy of 1 cent. From 79 cents the price went flat until noon.

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Foschini-Jet merger, a class and rivalry conundrum dissection

25th November 2020
Foschini

Competition and Consumer Authority (CCA) has revealed that in its assessment of the Jet take over by Foschini, there were considerations on possible market rivalry and a clash in targeted classes.

According to a merger decision notice seen by this publication this week, high considerations were made to ensure that Foschini’s takeover of Jet is not anyhow an elimination of rivalry or competition or if the two entities; the targeted and the acquiring enterprise serves the same class of customers or offer the same products, to elude the anti-trust issues or a stretch of monopoly.

The two entities are South African retailers whose services stretched to Botswana shores.  Last month local anti-trust body, CCA, received an acquisition proposal from South African clothing retailer, Foschini, stating their intentions to take-over Jet.

South African government’s Business Rescue Practitioners earlier this year after finding out that Jet’s mother company, Edcon, is falling apart, made a decision that Foschini can buy Jet for R480 million. This means that Foschini will add Jet to its portfolio of 30 retail brands that trade in clothing, footwear, jewellery, sportswear, homeware, cell phones, and technology products from value to upper market segments throughout more than 4085 outlets in 32 countries on five continents.

However the main headache for the CCA decision which was released this week, is distinguishing the targeted and the acquiring entity businesses and services.

When doing a ‘Competitive Analysis and Public Interest’ assessment, CCA is said to have discovered that Foschini is classified as a “standard retailer” which targets middle-to-upper income consumers and it competes with stores such as; Truworths and Woolworths. The targeted entity, Jet, is on the lower league when compared to its acquirer, it serves customers of lower classes and is regarded as a discount/value retailer targeting lower income consumers or a mass market. This makes Jet to be in direct competition with Ackermans, Pepkor, Cash Bazaar and Mr Price.

“Therefore, a narrower view of the market is that Foschini through its stores trading in Botswana is not a close competitor to Jet. Additionally, there exist other major rivals who will continue to exercise competitive constraints on the merged enterprise post-merger,” concluded CCA this month.

The anti-trust body continued to explain that in terms of the Acquisition of a Dominant Position, the analysis shows that the acquisition of the target business by Foschini Botswana will result in an insignificant combined market share in the relevant market.

This made CCA reach to a conclusion that there is no case of an acquisition of a dominant position in the market under consideration or any other market on the account of the proposed transaction.

What supports the merger according to CCA is that it is in compliance with regards to ‘Public Interest Considerations’ because the findings of the assessment revealed that the transaction is as a result of the need for a Business Rescue by the target enterprise. This is so because in the event that the proposed transaction fails, it will translate into the loss of the employment positions at the target business.

“On that note the Authority (CCA) found it necessary to ensure that the proposed merger does not result in any retrenchments or redundancies. In light of this, the assessment revealed the critical need to protect the employees of the merged entity from possible merger specific retrenchments/ redundancies,” said CCA.

Before making a determination that the recently proposed transaction is not likely to result in the prevention or substantial lessening of competition or endanger the continuity of the services offered in the relevant market, CCA said it then moved into a concern for public interest which is a protection enshrined in the Competition Act of 2018.

CCA’s concern was mostly loss of livelihood or employment by 126 Batswana workers at Jet stores, stating that possible retrenchments or redundancies may arise as a result of implementation of the proposed merger.

Much to the desire of trade union or labour movements in Botswana and across Southern Africa where the Jet stores are stemmed-who also raised concerns about the retail’s workers job security- CCA subjects Foschini to keep the target entity 126 workers.

“There shall be no merger specific retrenchments or redundancies that may affect the employees of the merged enterprises. For clarity, merger specific retrenchments or redundancies do not include (the list is not exhaustive): i. voluntary retrenchment and/or voluntary separation arrangements; ii. Voluntary early retirement packages; iii. Unreasonable refusals to be redeployed; iv. Resignations or retirements in the ordinary course of business; v. retrenchments lawfully effected for operational requirements unrelated to the Merger; and vi. Terminations in the ordinary course of business, including but not limited to, dismissals as a result of misconduct or poor performance,” said CCA.

CCA also orders that Foschini informs it about all the details of 126 Jet employees within thirty (30) days of the merger approval date. CCA should also know information of when Foschini is implementing the merger, within 30 days of the approval date.

Other conditions include Foschini sharing a copy of the conditions of approval to all employees of the Jet or their respective representatives within ten (10) days of the approval date.

“Should vacancies arise in the target, the merged enterprise shall consider previous employment at one of the non-transferring Jet stores to be a positive factor to be taken into account in the consideration of offering potential employment,” said CCA.

According to CCA, in cases of any job losses, for the Authority to assess whether the retrenchments or redundancies are merger specific, at least three months before (to the extent that this deadline can be practically achieved and in terms of the prevailing and legally required employment practices) any retrenchments or redundancies are to take place, inform the Authority of:  i. The intended retrenchments; ii. The reasons for the retrenchments; iii. The number and categories of employees affected; iv. The expected date of the retrenchments.

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