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Barclays still open for business in Africa

Barclays Bank Botswana is still open for business and is committed to investing in Botswana, Barclays Botswana Managing Director Rienette van der Merwe said this week.

This follows the UK banking group Barclays Group’s intention to sell its 62.3% stake in Barclays Africa Group. Barclays is scaling back its presence in Africa, by selling down its 62.3 per cent stake in  Barclays Africa Group, its Johannesburg-listed subsidiary, over two to three years to a level that allows it to be deconsolidated from the group.

Barclays Bank Plc currently owns 62.3% of Barclays Africa Group Limited (BAGL) which controls banks in 10 African countries including Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Addressing the media, van der Merwe said “This announcement will not affect you, our customers, in any way and we at Barclays Bank Botswana will continue to serve you as we have done for over 65 years.”

Barclays is being forced to sell assets, such as its  "Barclays set to exit African business" African subsidiary, because of punitive fines by authorities. Barclays Group said Absa is a well-diversified business and a high quality franchise.

The Chief Executive Director of the Barclays group, Jes Staley said “however the stake in BAGL presents specific challenges to Barclays as owners, such as the level of capital held in respect of BAGL, the international reach of the UK Bank Levy, the GSIB buffer, and MREL/TLAC and other regulatory requirements.”

“When conduct charges consume our profits, as they have for the past three years, we have no choice but to meet them by shrinking our franchise selling or closing businesses which reduces our capacity to support the real economy.”

The bank carries 100% responsibility with only 62.3% benefits, it said at its results presentation. Barclays said the sell-down will lead to further simplification of the group, resulting in cost reductions.

Barclays has seen its share price fall over 30 percent over the last two years amid a tumultuous period of changing leadership and restructuring.

Potential investors would need to raise nearly $4bn to buy Barclays. The intended sale is subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals.

The announcement came as the UK bank announced net losses more than doubled last year.

Barclays Group Africa on Tuesday reported a 17% return on equity for 2015 in its stand alone local currency results versus the 8.7% return reported for Africa Banking in Barclays’ results, the group said.

Staley said in his year-end review on Tuesday Africa Banking performed well despite currency headwinds. “Through Barclays Africa, we have excellent franchises in Africa, with a great management team,” said Staley.

Barclays Group Africa's share price dropped 3.20% to R131.65 shortly after the announcement.

BARCLAYS AFRICA REPORTS HEADLINE EARNINGS GROWTH OF 10%

Meanwhile Barclays Africa Group Limited this week announced a 10% increase in headline earnings for the year ended 31 December 2015, delivering a solid performance underpinned by a three-year strategy implemented in 2014.

Maria Ramos, Chief Executive of Barclays Africa Group Limited says: “We delivered solid results, demonstrating that our strategy is working. Our ambition to be Africa’s leading bank remains unchanged. We are a strong, well-capitalised and independently funded business that is uniquely positioned to achieve our goals across the continent.”

Group headline earnings increased to R14.3 billion on the back of increased income while costs remained well managed. 

Costs increased by only 5%, even as the group continued to make appropriate investments in our infrastructure to deliver material improvements to our service.

Return on equity improved to 17%, the highest level since 2008 and Barclays Africa is now top three by revenue in four of our five largest markets; that is, South Africa, Botswana, Ghana and Zambia. We are gaining revenue traction in key focus areas across geographies and businesses and we have seen strong loan growth in the right areas.

Retail and Business Banking (RBB), the group’s largest business unit, continued its turnaround and had another strong year with headline earnings growing 14%, playing a key role in driving overall Barclays Africa growth. RBB recorded solid revenue growth and managed costs well. The continued improvement in the quality of the home loans book and a strong collections performance in personal loans resulted in lower credit impairment. RBB’s non-interest income rose 7%.

“We added 855,000 new-to-bank customers in 2015 – an achievement that I am particularly pleased with,” says Ms Ramos. “Our RBB unit continues to make good progress in its turnaround and we have had one of our strongest revenue months on record in January 2016,” Ms Ramos says.

Improvements in the branch network and other channels, supported by investments in mobile and other technologies supported RBB’s progress.

In Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB), headline earnings increased 6% to R3.9 billion. The group’s pan-African strategy is working, with CIB’s business outside of South Africa increasing to now account for 37% of overall earnings, demonstrating that clients are seeing the benefit of the group’s integrated regional presence.

Wealth, Investment Management and Insurance (WIMI) delivered strong growth in headline earnings, increasing 11%. The WIMI offering was expanded into East Africa, with the launch of Barclays Life Assurance Kenya and the acquisition of a controlling stake in First Assurance, which also gives the group scale and presence in Tanzania.

While the commodity downturn and reduced economic growth weakened general sentiment towards the continent, Barclays Africa’s operations in the rest of Africa performed well and enhanced group growth. This shows that creating the Barclays Africa group in 2013 is working.

Revenue from operations outside of South Africa increased to 14% while headline earnings grew 17%. Operations outside of South Africa accounted for just over a fifth of revenue during 2015 and earnings growth in this region should continue to exceed those of South Africa. There is a clear path to increasing return on equity from those operations.

While the focus of the numbers we released today is on financial performance, this is only one component of our success as a business.

Barclays Africa has adopted a Shared Growth approach which for us, means generating a positive impact on society while delivering shareholder value.

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Business

Botswana records first trade surplus since January

7th October 2021
Botswana-records-first-trade-surplus-

Botswana has recorded its first trade surplus for 2021 since the only one for the year in January.

The country’s exports for the month of July surpassed the value of imports, Statistics Botswana’s July International Merchandise Trade data reveals.

Released last Friday, the monthly trade digest reports a positive jump in the trade balance graph against the backdrop of a series of trade deficits in the preceding months since January this year.

According to the country’s significant data body, imports for the month were valued at P7.232 billion, reflecting a decline of 6.6 percent from the revised June 2021 value of P7.739 billion.

Total exports during the same month amounted to P7.605 billion, showing an increase of 6.1 percent over the revised June 2021 value of P7.170 billion.

A trade surplus of P373.2 million was recorded in July 2021. This follows a revised trade deficit of P568.7 million for June 2021.

For the total exports value of P7.605 billion, the Diamonds group accounted for 91.2 percent (P6.936 billion), followed by Machinery & Electrical Equipment and Salt & Soda Ash with 2.2 percent (P169.7 million) and 1.3 percent (P100.9 million) respectively.

Asia was the leading destination for Botswana exports, receiving 65.2 percent (P4.96 billion) of total exports during July 2021.

These exports mostly went to the UAE and India, having received 26.3 percent (P1. 99 billion) and 18.7 percent (P1.422 billion) of total exports, respectively. The top most exported commodity to the regional block was Diamonds.

Exports destined to the European Union amounted to P1.64 billion, accounting for 21.6 percent of total exports.

Belgium received almost all exports destined to the regional union, acquiring 21.5 percent (P1.6337 billion) of total exports during the reporting period.

The Diamonds group was the leading commodity group exported to the EU. The SACU region received exports valued at P790.7 million, representing 10.4 percent of total exports.

Diamonds and Salt & Soda Ash commodity groups accounted for 37.8 percent (P298.6 million) and 6.2 percent (P48.7 million) of total exports to the customs union.

South Africa received 9.8 percent (P745.0 million) of total exports during the month under review. The Diamonds group contributed 39.9 percent (P297.4 million) to all goods destined for the country.

 

In terms of imports, the SACU region contributed 62.7 percent (P4.534 billion) to total imports during July.

The topmost imported commodity groups from the SACU region were Fuel; Food, Beverages & Tobacco, and Machinery & Electrical Equipment with contributions of 33.3 percent (P1.510 billion), 17.4 percent (P789.4 million) and 12.7 percent (P576.7 million) to total imports from the region, respectively.

South Africa contributed 60.1 percent (P4.3497 billion) to total imports during July 2021.

Fuel accounted for 32.1 percent (P1.394 billion) of imports from that country. Food, Beverages & Tobacco contributed 17.7 percent (P772.0 million) to imports from South Africa.

Namibia contributed 2.0 percent (P141.1 million) to the overall imports during the period under review. Fuel was the main commodity imported from that country at 82.1 percent (P115.8 million).

During the months, imports representing 63.5 percent (P4.5904 billion) were transported into the country by Road.

Transportation of imports by Rail and Air accounted for 22.7 percent (P1.645 billion) and 13.8 percent (P996.2 million), respectively.

During the month, goods exported by Air amounted to P6, 999.2 million, accounting for 92.0 percent of total exports, while those leaving the country by Road were valued at P594.2 million (7.8 percent).

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Business

The 2021/2022 Stanford Seed Transformation Program Begins

7th October 2021

Founders from twenty companies have been accepted into the program from Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa

The 4th Cohort of the Stanford Seed Transformation Program – Southern Africa (STP), a collaboration between Stanford Graduate School of Business and De Beers Group commenced classes on 20 September 2021. According to Otsile Mabeo, Vice President Corporate Affairs, De Beers Global Sightholder Sales: “We are excited to confirm that 20 companies have been accepted into the 4th Seed Transformation Programme from Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. The STP is an important part of the De Beers Group Building Forever sustainability strategy and demonstrates our commitment to the ‘Partnering for Thriving Communities’ pillar that aims at enhancing enterprise development in countries where we operate in the Southern African region”. Jeffrey Prickett, Global Director of Stanford Seed: “Business owners and their key management team members undertake a 12-month intensive leadership program that includes sessions on strategy and finance, business ethics, and design thinking, all taught by world-renowned Stanford faculty and local business practitioners. The program is exclusively for business owners and teams of for-profit companies or for-profit social enterprises with annual company revenues of US$300,000 – US$15million.” The programme will be delivered fully virtually to comply with COVID 19 protocols. Out of the 20 companies, 6 are from Botswana, 1 Namibia, and 13 South Africa. Since the partnership’s inception, De Beers Group and Stanford Seed have supported 74 companies, 89 founders/CEOs, and approximately 750 senior-level managers to undertake the program in Southern Africa.

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Business

Minergy overcomes challenges – improves revenue and produces record breaking coal sales to date

7th October 2021
Minergy

Minergy, the coal mining and trading company with the Masama coal mine, this week released results for the year ended 30 June 2021. The company achieved revenue of P193 million (2020: P81 million) with significant improvement in sales volumes surpassing 415 000 tonnes sold for the year.

The performance was divided into two distinct periods with very different operating environments. The first eight-month period (July 2020 – February 2021), was negatively impacted by delayed funding, COVID-19 impacts and excessive rain; and the last four-month period (March – June 2021), was a more stable production environment moving toward nameplate capacity.

According to Minergy CEO, Morné du Plessis, production and sales initially recovered in July and August 2020 with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and recoveries were further bolstered by the successful launch of the rail siding. Delays experienced in concluding the funding contributed to contractors limiting operations to manage arrears.

“However, the heavy rains we experienced from December 2020 through February 2021 flooded the mine pit making access difficult and impacting both production and sales. Fortunately, the rain subsided in March 2021, and we entered a more stable environment, with a positive impact on operations. Good recoveries in production and sales were experienced during the last four-month period of the year, with the mine moving closer toward a breakeven position.”

“Despite these operational constraints, including the effects of COVID-19 on logistics and manning of shifts, we expect to reach consistent nameplate capacity in the 2022 financial year,” du Plessis added.

FINANACIAL REVIEW

In addition to the revenue reported above, the company incurred costs of sales of P256 million (2020: P150 million) with operating costs of P23 million (2020: P31 million). This effectively resulted in an operating loss of P86 million (2020: P100 million). Finance costs of P51 million (2020: P17 million) were incurred, bringing the net loss before taxation to P136 million (2020: P117 million).

Du Plessis explains that the adverse conditions in the first eight-month period contributed to 86% of the gross loss, while the more stable four-month period alone contributed to 50% of total sales value, helping to decrease monthly gross losses, albeit below breakeven levels.

The company benefited from a strengthening in the South African Rand (“ZAR”) supporting higher back-on- mine sales prices.

“As announced, we’re pleased to have secured P125 million of additional convertible debt funding through the Minerals Development Company Botswana (Proprietary) Limited (“MDCB”). Minergy remains grateful for this support.”

He added that the first tranche of additional funding provided by the MDCB had been received in December 2020, which allowed Minergy to settle the majority of the contractor’s arrears and allowed their teams to be remobilised. The second and final tranche was paid post the financial year-end and will allow the business to reach nameplate capacity in the new financial year.”

COAL SALES AND MINE PERFORMANCE

Sales volumes increased by 110%, supported by increased sales in Botswana and internationally in South Africa and Namibia. Sales for June 2021 exceeded 56 000 tonnes, a record since the inception of the mine, with pricing increasing late in the financial year on the back of buoyant international prices and a strengthening ZAR.

Minergy also concluded a further 12-month off-take agreement to the existing off-take agreement, with a further agreement finalised post year end.

Overburden moved during the reporting period increased by 86% and extracted coal by 50%. Coal mined in June 2021 alone exceeded 100 000 tonnes. “This is a good performance considering the challenges faced such as sacrificing pre-stripping activities for a period to manage arrears, excessive rain and COVID-19,” du Plessis indicated.

“The wash plant was initially starved of coal due to the factors noted already. Despite this, overall plant throughput performance was 37% higher than 2020. Consistent output was supported by the completion of the Stage 2 rigid crushing section as well as the water saving dewatering screen with filter press contributing to a reduction in water usage of 60% per tonne of coal. A record throughput of more than 84 000 tonnes was achieved in March 2021 and this consistency has been maintained.”

OUTLOOK

According to du Plessis, the completion of Stage 4 of the Processing Plant, the rigid screening and stock handling section, remains a key optimisation step, which has associated benefits. “The completion was unfortunately delayed by a southern African wide shortage of structural steel but was commissioned post year-end.”

Minergy expects the positive momentum in international coal pricing for southern African coal to remain in place. Higher coal prices have resulted in coal being withdrawn from the inland market in favour of lucrative international markets. Du Plessis added that the regional market is currently under- supplied with sized coal, which supports higher pricing and new customer opportunities for Minergy.

“Our objective for the 2022 financial year is to achieve nameplate capacity by completing final ramp-up of operations. This will enable the company to generate sufficient cash flow to stabilise the business at breakeven or better. The bullish coal market is also providing support. COVID-19 will still be closely managed, and we look forward to the lifting of the State of Emergency, as announced, and trust that vaccination programmes will achieve herd immunity in Botswana during the next 12 months.”

Du Plessis expressed his excitement on prospects stating that, “The Eskom due diligence process is continuing, and we are hopeful of receiving feedback during the current financial year. In addition to this opportunity, Minergy is also investigating participation in the request by the Government of Botswana to provide a 300MW power station for which the company has been shortlisted.”

The approved process to issue shares for cash is showing positive leads and he concluded by saying that a listing in London is still being investigated.

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