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Bank sector profitability improved in 2016

The Bank of Botswana has said banking sector’s profitability improved in 2016, with income after-tax increasing by 29.3 percent from P1.1 billion in 2015 to P1.4 billion in December 2016.

As a result, Return on Average Total Assets (ROAA) and Return on Equity (ROE) also increased from 1.5 percent and 13.3 percent to 1.8 percent and 14.4 percent, respectively. Overall, the banking sector complied with the minimum prudential and statutory thresholds as expected. According to the Banking Supervision Annual Report 2016 released this week, the banking sector’s total assets increased by 5.3 percent from P76.6 billion in December 2015 to P80.6 billion. Loans and advances grew by 6.2 percent to P51.3 billion in December 2016, compared to growth of 7.1 percent in 2015.

“The Liquid Assets to Total Assets Ratio rose from 15.4 percent (2015) to 16.7 percent (2016), following an increase in liquid assets. Similarly, the ratio of NPLs to Total Loans and Advances increased from 3.9 percent in December 2015 to 4.9 percent in December 2016. The household sector accounted for 59 percent of total NPLs. The ratio of aggregate Large Exposures to Unimpaired Capital was much lower than the 800 percent maximum prudential limit set for banks in Botswana, implying satisfactory management of credit concentration risk,” reads the report.
 

In 2016, total customer deposits grew by 4.2 percent to P62.4 billion, the report further states. It recognizes that customer deposits constituted the largest proportion of liabilities at 77.4 percent and, as expected, the primary source of funding for the banking assets. “Interbank balances and credit from institutions increased by 20.4 percent from P3.3 billion in 2015 to P4 billion in 2016, as banks accessed alternative sources of funding for asset growth. As a result, the Financial Intermediation Ratio (the ratio of Loans and Advances to Deposits) increased from 80.6 percent to 82.2 percent.”

The Banking Supervision report notes that the banking sector was adequately capitalised and met the new regulatory capital requirements, with all banks reporting Capital Adequacy and Common Equity Tier 1 Capital Ratios in excess of the minimum prudential requirements of 15 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively. The banking industry’s capital adequacy ratio was 19.6 percent in December 2016 (December 2015: 20.1 percent).

Access to banking services, as measured by the ratio of Bank Accounts to Adult1 Population, improved from 75.9 percent in 2015 to 76.5 percent in 2016. Notwithstanding the fact that an individual can have multiple accounts, the ratio of Bank Accounts to Adult Population provides a rough indicator of access to banking services. The aggregate number of bank accounts grew by 3 percent from 1.13 million in 2015 to 1.17 million in 2016, while the number of accounts held by the adult population grew by 2.7 percent from 1.49 million to 1.53 million.

The Banking Supervision Annual report states that the employment levels in the banking sector for 2015 and 2016 increased by 0.5 percent from 5 030 in 2015 to 5 055 in 2016. The increase in employment levels was due to branch expansion. However, it further records that five banks recorded declines in their employment levels during the year under review due to branch rationalisation and automation.

The report indicates that Banks continued to innovate and introduce new products and services, including Credit Default Swaps (CDS)2 for institutional investors. CDS is an agreement where the buyer of the CDS makes a series of payments (the CDS “fee” or “spread”) to the seller and, in exchange, receives a payoff if the loan defaults. Various savings accounts, such as target savings and offshore accounts, were also introduced.

To further enhance the existing service delivery channels, some banks upgraded the intelligent ATMs, among others, improving functionality with respect to cash and cheque deposits, withdrawal of foreign currency (e.g., South African rand (ZAR)), bill payments, and cardless services. Point of Sale (PoS) functionalities were also upgraded to permit acceptance of Union Pay International cards3, as well as allowing local merchants and customers to pay in any currency of their choice, where feasible.

Furthermore, PoS machines were enhanced to allow payment using earned cash-back points. In addition, the online banking platforms for small and medium enterprises were extended to include services such as payments to other bank accounts held in Botswana, bulk file payments for multiple beneficiaries and segregation of duties in the platform, according to an individual client’s needs.

FINANCIAL POSITION OF BANKS

According to the Banking Supervision Annual report, the banking sector’s total assets increased by 5.3 percent in 2016 (December 2015: 12.7 percent) from P76.6 billion in December 2015 to P80.6 billion; mainly reflecting a 6.2 percent increase in gross loans and advances to P51.3 billion in December 2016. Net loans and advances constituted a larger proportion of total banking sector assets (62 percent), followed by investment and trading securities (14 percent).

It states that the proportions of both assets and liabilities for 2015 and 2016 have largely remained unchanged, with minimal variations between the two periods. The report further buttresses that it is evident that the major source of funding for commercial bank assets continues to be customer deposits. In an effort to enhance and strengthen the resilience of the banking sector to economic and financial shocks, the Bank of Botswana says it implemented the Basel II Capital framework which came into effect on January 1, 2016.

“In order to facilitate an orderly transition to the new capital regime, the Bank adopted a gradual approach to Basel II implementation, commencing with Pillar 1 (Simple Approaches) and Pillar 3 disclosure requirements. The implementation of Pillar 2 and the Advanced Approaches has been deferred to a later stage.” According to the report, the commercial banks’ Large Exposures to Unimpaired Capital Ratio increased to 195 percent (2015: 194 percent). This ratio differed considerably among individual banks, ranging from 65.5 percent to 484.1 percent.

“The large exposures increased from P18.2 billion in 2015 to P20 billion in 2016, while unimpaired capital increased to P10.2 billion in 2016 (2015: P9.4 billion). The Large Exposures to Total Loans and Advances Ratio was 38.9 percent (2015: 37.7 percent). All banks maintained Large Exposures to Unimpaired Capital Ratios within the recommended 800 percent prudential limit.” The Banking Supervision Annual report states that the banking sector’s Liquid Assets to Total Deposit Ratio increased from 19.7 percent in 2015 to 21.6 percent in 2016, which was significantly above the 10 percent minimum prudential requirement.

“Similarly, the Liquid Assets to Total Assets Ratio increased from 15.4 percent in 2015, to 16.7 percent in 2016, following an increase in liquid assets. Overall, the total liquid assets held in the banking sector increased to P13.5 billion as at December 31, 2016 (December 2015: P11.8 billion),” it states. The banks’ aggregate cash and balances with the Bank increased by 38.2 percent from P4.6 billion in 2015 to P6.3 billion in 2016. Commercial banks’ placements with other banks and credit institutions increased by 3.9 percent from P10.5 billion in 2015 to P11 billion in 2016.

Chart 2.14 shows Bank of Botswana Certificates (BoBCs) holdings by banks for the period 2012 – 2016. There was a slight decrease in BoBCs holdings to P7.9 billion during 2016 (December 2015: P8.2 billion).  The Report says overall, the liquidity indicators show an improved liquidity condition in 2016.

“The banking industry’s unimpaired capital increased by 9.2 percent from P9.4 billion in 2015 to P10.2 billion in 2016, due to an increase in retained earnings of 4.1 percent (2015: 11.5 percent) and Tier 2 capital instruments (5.8 percent). Four banks voluntarily injected additional Tier 2 capital amounting to P240 million. In addition, increases in banks’ capital levels can also be attributed to increases in RWA, as banks grew their loan books. All banks, with the exception of two banks, which paid out dividends, recorded increases in their unimpaired capital,” reads the report.

The report further shares that the country’s financial depth and development indicators improved marginally, with the ratios of Private Sector Credit and Banking Credit to GDP increasing from 31.6 percent and 32.4 percent in 2015, to 31.8 percent and 32.6 percent in 2016, respectively. However, the M2 to GDP ratio decreased from 45.7 percent in 2015 to 42.8 percent in 2016.

“As was the case in the prior year, five banks dominated the banking sector, accounting for 90 percent of total banking assets. There was a dilution of competitiveness, as measured by the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI), during the year. However, the banking sector remained moderately competitive. The pressure on banks to innovate, develop and improve their products and services, in order to maintain high profitability levels, is expected to enhance competitiveness.”

The Banking Supervision report suggests that there is still room for more players in the banking sector. 

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Inflation spike building further upwards

27th October 2020
Inflation spike

In the coming months prices will go up and inflation will shoot sharply above the target of 3 percent to 6 percent towards the third quarter of 2021, the Bank of Botswana on the other hand will continue to withhold its knife on the Bank Rate. This is according to a forecast made by Kgori Capital in its recent Market Watch Segment.

Statistics from Statistics Botswana show that the recent 1.8 percent increase in the September inflation, from 1 percent in August, was a reflection of the upward adjustment in public transport fares (Transport (from -6.9 to -3.9 percent) in September 2020, which is estimated to have increased inflation by approximately 0.64 percentage points.

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Plans to erase Edgars, Jet trademark from Botswana malls underway

27th October 2020
Edgars Jet trademark

Local anti-trust body, Competition and Consumer Authority (CCA), this month received back to back acquisition proposals from South African clothing retailers to wipe out their former rivals, Edcon, from Botswana malls.

Last week BusinessPost was in possession of Merger Notice No 23 of 2020 whereby a South African clothing retailer owner, Retailability Proprietary Limited, through Oclin Proprietary Limited, proposed to acquire parts of the Edgars business conducted by Edcon in Botswana (through Edcon Botswana), as a going concern, consisting of certain assets and identified liabilities.

South African government’s Business Rescue Practitioners earlier this year announced that Retailability will buy Edgars, after the latter filed for a business rescue plan in April after it failed to pay suppliers. This move will see Retailability add Edgars to its portfolio consisting of brands such as; Legit, Beaver Canoe and Style.

Retailability landed on Botswana shores 18 years ago with its flamboyant urban fashion Style which had 17 stores. Style, having almost the same target market as Edgars as it offers men’s and ladies’ contemporary and formal fashion, gave the 91 year old legendary clothing retailer a run for its money, and has won the battle as its parent company has taken over Edgars.

Retailability brands are synonymous with Botswana shopping centres and there are currently five (5) Beaver Canoe stores, 10 Style stores and seven (7) Legit stores across this country. The Beaver Canoe stores sell clothing apparel for men and boys only. The Legit stores have a fashion store format which focuses on the retailing of clothing, footwear, accessories, colour cosmetics and cellular products.

Retailability operates in over 460 stores across South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, and Eswatini. Many observers suggest that because of the deal with Retailability to swallow Edcon, most Edgars stores in Botswana will change their name and be branded Style. A sad tale for religious consumers of the Edgars trademark who got used to love their favourite brand for years.

According to CCA’s Merger Notice No 23 of 2020, Retailability is controlled by Clifford Raymond Lines (through a company which functions solely as a holding company of his interests in Retailability) and Metier Investment and Advisory Services Proprietary Limited (“Metier”). Metier is a private equity enterprise with investments in a number of industries spanning from healthcare, hospitality, FMCGs and telecommunications.

Retailability directors are mostly South Africans; Clifford Raymond Lines, Mark Richard Friday and Norman Victor Drieselmann. Only Nasreen Essack, who was appointed February this year, is a Motswana. He comes after Brian Thuto Tsima left on the same date. Retailability 100 percent owns Oclin Proprietary Limited, the company it is acquiring Edgars with, by a capacity of 3000 shares.

The target business, Edgars, offer textiles, cosmetics and cellular products. Edcon has a Motswana director, Charles Mzwandile Vikisi, a South African, Shane Van Niekerk and Zimbabwean Jethro Kamutsi.

“The Target Business comprises of two (2) Edgars franchise brands and private label stores across Botswana. These stores target middle to upper income customers and are home to a range of private label brands such as Free2BU, Charter Club and Stone Harbour, and a wide range of market label brands (such as Levi’s and Guess) for clothing, footwear and cosmetics.

In addition, the Target Business operates iconic Edgars Home and Edgars Beauty stores as store-in-store formats rounding out the department store offering in Botswana,” said CCA.
Foshini also lines up to take Jet Botswana from Edcon.

The Foschini Group (TFG) released a statement confirming its latest intentions to acquire Edcon assets or Jet for a cash purchase consideration of R480 million. This was after the business rescue practitioners offered TFG to buy Jet by that amount.

CCA is currently mulling on a proposed merger by TFG to take over Jet operations in Botswana. Merger Notice No 21 of 2020 from TFG came a few days before the Retailability proposal. In this merger TFG, acting through Foschini Botswana, want to take over “parts” of the Jet business conducted by Edcon through Jet Supermarkets Botswana.

TFG will be willing to 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. TFG will also get Jet’s distribution centre located in Durban and certain stores in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Eswatini. Also part of this fat deal is that the company is looking to also acquire JET Club and all existing JET stock of no less than R800 million.

Johannesburg listed TGF owns Foschini Retail Group which owns the local operations called Foschini Botswana, the acquiring enterprise according to CCA merger notice. “TFG is not controlled by any enterprise/s and for completeness, the three largest shareholders of TFG holding shares greater than 5% as at 27th March 2020 are: Government Employees Pension Fund (16.2%) Public Investment Corporation (13.2%); Old Mutual Limited (6.7%); and Investec Asset Management (6.3%). The remaining issued share capital in TFG is widely held,” said the merger notice.

Only Abdool Rahim Khan is a Motswana in the Foschini Botswana directorship, the rest; Ganeswari Shani Naidoo, Anthony Edward Thunström and Gustav Jansen (alternate director) are South Africans.

According to the CCA merger, the Jet Business is Edcon’s discount department store division, selling clothing, footwear, homeware and some cosmetics as well as cellular products and targets lower-to-middle income consumers throughout Botswana. The Jet Business does not directly or indirectly control any enterprises, says the notice. CCA seeks any stakeholder views for or against the proposed merger, which may be sent within 10 days from date of this publication to the following address.

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BOCRA, associates to provide broadband internet in schools

27th October 2020

Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority BOCRA signed a memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the Ministries of Transport and Communications (MTC), Basic Education (MoBE) as well as Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD).

The MoA seeks to continue the collaboration that dates back to 2016 when the three parties first agreed to work together in a project aimed at computerizing and providing broadband Internet to primary schools in remote and underserved areas of Botswana.

The project benefitted 68 primary schools and 9 secondary schools through the construction of Local Area Network (LAN) in each primary school, provision of 5 Mbps dedicated broadband Internet to each Primary School and provision of Wi-Fi enabled tablets, laptops and related peripherals such as printers and copiers.

Further, the project will see the augmentation of computers in 9 Junior Secondary Schools with 30 laptops per identified school and employment of Information Technology (IT) officers at each primary school.

When speaking at the signing ceremony in Gaborone, Chief Executive of BOCRA and Chairperson of Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF) Board of Trustees Martin Mokgware said the project’s ultimate goal is to facilitate pupils in schools and host villages to be able to play a meaningful role in the digital economy.

Mokgware indicated that this necessitates upgrading of existing Telecommunications infrastructure to high capacity broadband that will support delivery of education, accessibility to the quality Internet and usage of ICTs.

The Fund began its inaugural programme by sponsoring the provision of WiFi hotspots in public areas around the country as its first project. Following the successful implementation of public WiFi hotspots, the Fund identified Kgalagadi, Ghanzi and Mabutsane areas for mobile network upgrades, schools computerization and internet provision.

Conscious that the project would not be possible without buy-in and support from MoBE, MTC and MLGRD, the Fund facilitated the signing of the first MoU between the three parties in 2016 for implementation of the project.

BOCRA Chief Executive said the signing of this agreement is aimed at benefitting the Kweneng District, adding that they have already assessed the area and have determined that they will be covering 62 underserved villages and 119 schools, 91 of which are primary schools.

“This is a project for which the partner Ministries need to re-commit for its success. Lessons from the previous schools’ computerization and internet connectivity project require that we increase our involvement and resources dedicated to the project for it to be successful. It is my belief as the project coordinator, that we will not do things the way we did them during the first project, for if we do, then we will not have learnt anything,” he said at the signing ceremony.

The purpose of learning is so that there can be continuous improvement to minimize the length of time and amount of resources utilized, he said expressing confidence that their partners will step up to the plate and ensure they play their part in the implementation of the project and that it will progress smoothly having already tread along a similar path.

UASF’s role lies mainly in funding and project management. According to Mokgware, once the project is completed, the work to integrate ICTs into the classroom begins in earnest. Therefore, he said, the project will not succeed without full cooperation and oversight of partners.

“MoBE will put in place the necessary content and ensure that the curriculum is available to all. MLGRD will provide, among others, the enabling environment by ensuring readiness of the school’s infrastructure and necessary security.”

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