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Barclays Africa H1 results show resilience in deteriorating environment

Barclays Africa Group Limited, one of the largest financial service providers in Africa with operations in 12 countries, today reported a solid financial performance for the first half of the year, demonstrating continued resilience in a deteriorating economic environment in South Africa, its largest market.
 

The announcement marked the first time that the company reported results following Barclays PLC’s sell-down of its majority stake in the African business in a share sale that saw exceptionally strong interest for the stock.  “We are presenting a set of results that demonstrate the real value of the 2013 acquisition of the Barclays businesses in Africa,” said Maria Ramos, Chief Executive, Barclays Africa Group Limited. “Both geographically, as well as by customer segment, they are proving their worth in yielding a strong performance for the first half, even as our biggest market, South Africa, has suffered the impact of an economic downturn.”
 
Summary of results
 
Barclays Africa Group’s normalised headline earnings increased 7% to R7.8 billion, driven by strong earnings growth in the Rest of Africa, and positive earnings growth in South Africa, featuring strong growth in corporate banking. Impairments declined by 27% from a high base in the first half of 2016, contributing to the improvement in earnings.  Group revenue declined 1% to R36 billion, given a deteriorating economic environment in South Africa, which in turn caused pre-provision profit to decline 6%. The cost-to-income ratio increased to 55.6% despite a focus on cost containment and inflationary cost growth. The return on equity remained attractive and improved to 16.8% from 16.1%.
 

The group continues to have a sound financial position with balance sheet assets of R1.1 trillion and strong capital adequacy and liquidity reserve positions.  Successful separation from Barclays PLC will be an overarching priority for Barclays Africa over the next three years.  For the remainder of the year, Barclays Africa will place priority focus on its retail and business bank performance in South Africa and on driving opportunities in its businesses outside of South Africa. WIMI will continue to focus on retention of clients and assets, optimising opportunities presented by the pickup in momentum in Retail and Banking South Africa and returning the business outside of South Africa to profitability.
 

Barclays Africa is also continuing its significant investment in technology to build a more efficient and lower-cost franchise.  “Our results today are testament to the resilience of our business and the momentum we are creating,” Ramos said. “We expect the economic environment to remain challenging but we believe the long-term opportunities remain attractive.” South Africa is in a recession after gross domestic product shrank 0.7% on an annualised basis in the first quarter. Economic growth forecasts for the full year have once again been revised downwards.
 
Barclays PLC Sell-down
 
Following the first sale tranche of 12.2% in May 2016, the next milestone was successfully navigated with the second book-build concluded in June – the biggest ever seen in the local market at R37.7 billion.  The transaction achieved accounting deconsolidation for Barclays PLC.“It represents a huge vote of confidence from investors in the group we are creating,” said Ramos. “It has been a great success and removes any uncertainty about our future ownership.”  Looking forward, Ramos said: “This is an exciting time for us and I have said that our ambition remains the same and undiminished. We are building a pan-African financial services business with the potential to unlock the real opportunities and competitive advantages we enjoy.

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Botswana on high red alert as AML joins Covid-19 to plague mankind

21st September 2020
Botswana-on-high-alert-as-AML-joins-Covid-19-to-plague-mankind-

This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.

The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.

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Finance Committee cautions Gov’t against imprudent raising of debt levels

21st September 2020
Finance Committe Chairman: Thapelo Letsholo

Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.

He was speaking in  Parliament on Tuesday delivering  Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a  motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.

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Gov’t Investment Account drying up fast!  

21st September 2020
Dr Matsheka

Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.

The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.

The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.

The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.

This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.

Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.

Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.

However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.

Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.

When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.

This  as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.

Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.

The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.

Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.

In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.

Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.

Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.

Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.

Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance   Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”

He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”

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