Africa Brief: SA investment appetite, foreign banks seek growth in Zimbabwe, and more

Rest of Africa ‘nervous of SA investment appetite’

African investors were “quite nervous” about the appetite for African investment from SA, despite the JSE dwarfing most African exchanges, JSE CEO Nicky Newton-King said at the Association for Savings and Investment SA (Asisa) conference in Durban. There are 24 exchanges in Africa, yet the JSE’s daily volume remains higher than the annual trading on many of them. While SA’s financial services sector did not suffer during the financial crisis, it was necessary to apply more introspection to determine possible weaknesses, said MMI CEO Nicolaas Kruger. Sanlam and Asisa CEO Johan van Zyl said SA’s financial services industry would not flourish if reg­ulation did not ensure level play­ing fields and remove unnecessary barriers to doing business.

For the full story, read Rest of Africa ‘nervous of SA investment appetite’ by Evan Pickworth, published by Business Day on 11/04/13

Foreign banks seek growth in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe units of Barclays and Nedbank have announced projects to boost their presence in Zimbabwe by opening new branches, installing new auto­mated teller machines (ATMs) and developing new, technology-based banking platforms across the country. Despite earlier concerns over Zimbabwe’s indigenisation legis­lation, the Zimbabwe unit of Barclays Bank this week launched hi-tech ATMs which officials say will enhance security and speed up transactions. Zimbabwean banks, generally, are enhancing their service offer­ings to compete more effectively with telecommunications com­panies that have started offering various financial services. CBZ, an established local bank, has engaged South African com­pany Sparks ATM Systems to deploy in-store ATM machines. The group plans to set up about 300 in-store ATMs across the country, having already set up six in retail outlets, food courts and at petrol stations — mainly in Harare — in the past month.

For the full story, read Foreign banks seek growth in Zimbabwe by Tawanda Karombo, published by Business Day on 11/04/13

Gono urges ‘no panic’ as row over bank grab grows

UK bank Standard Chartered has been caught up in the row between Zimbabwean Empowerment Minis­ter Saviour Kasukuwere and reserve bank governor Gideon Gono over plans to seize majority stakes in foreign banks for locals. Mr Gono took the unusual step yesterday of urging the bank’s clients not to panic, following a weekend statement from officials of the National lndigenisation and conomic Empowerment Board (NIEEB) urging individuals, compa­nies and government departments not to deal with the bank. Destabilising a large bank such as Standard Chartered has serious systemic consequences that can lead to unintended results which are the opposite to those we would have hoped to achieve. Both Mr Kasukuwere and Mr Gono are said to be close to Zim­babwean President Robert Mugabe, whose Zanu (PF) party is pushing the indigenisation policy ahead of elections expected later this year. We have not yet used section 5. It has drastic measures – we have just warned and cautioned Standard Chartered to make corrections. Mr Gono has been backed by Finance Minister Tendai Biti in advising the govern­ment not to force foreign banks to cede 51% of shares, saying this would destabilise the sector.

For the full story, read Gono urges ‘no panic’ as row over bank grab grows by Tawanda Karombo, published by Business Day on 11/04/13

Fiserv boosts its fraud prevention service in Africa

Fortune 500 company Fiserv which has 16,000 clients worldwide and a $5bn revenue stream, is taking aim at growing its fraud-prevention business in Africa, which faces increased incidences of money laundering and fraud. Many companies in Africa stand to lose out on lucrative US business if they do not abide by new US rules for dealing with US citizens from next year, with many banks in Africa not yet seen ready for the change. The changes will place the onus on a US bank to report to the country’s internal revenue service that foreign banks are compliant, and executives could go to jail if they do not comply. The move on the Foreign Account Tax Com­pliant Act was announced about 18 months ago in the US and it was hoped compliance could apply from this year, but this has been postponed to early next year. At a centralised level, Fiserv systems would put high frequency and suspicious transactions into a model that provides alerts.

For the full story, read Fiserv boosts its fraud prevention service in Africa by Evan Pickworth, published by Business Day on 11/04/13

Kibo Mining and Brazils Votorantim to start exploration work in Tanzania

Kibo Mining, which is listed on the JSE and London’s Alternative Investment Market, has finalised a partnership with Votim Metais Participagoes — a subsidiary of Brazilian diversified metals group Votorantim — to start exploration work at its Haneti project in Tanzania. As part of the agreement Votorantim would provide an initial £2.7m funding package for the Work programme. Apart from Haneti, Kibo has four other exploration projects in Tanzania. These include gold projects in Morogoro and at Lake Victoria, a coal project in Rukwa, and a coal and uranium exploration project in Pinewood.

For the full story, read Kibo Mining and Brazils Votorantim to start exploration work in Tanzania by Monde Maoto, published by Business Day on 11/04/13

Rezidor eyes more hotels in sub-Saharan region

The Rezidor Hotel Group, whose brands include Regent, Hotel Missoni, Radisson Blu and Park Inn, intends to ramp up its presence in SA and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa as part of its focus on high-growth emerging economies. Rezidor president and CEO Wolf­gang Neumann said Africa carried higher risks than other regions, and “it takes a year or two longer to open a hotel”. Research by consultancy W Hospitality Group states that the number of planned new hotel rooms in sub-Saharan Africa stood at 21,052 in 130 hotels in January — “a massive 23% increase” from 17,109 planned rooms in 100 hotels a year earlier. In sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria had “by far the largest pipeline”, the group said. Hilton Worldwide and Carlson Rezidor had the largest pipelines in sub-Saharan Africa.

For the full story, read Rezidor eyes more hotels in sub-Saharan region by Nick Hedley, published by Business Day on 11/04/13

Gono reassures foreign-owned banks in Harare

Zimbabwe’s central bank chief yesterday dismissed government threats to seize foreign-owned banks that failed to meet black ownership requirements, in a rare public rebuke of colleagues. Destabilising a large bank such as Standard Chartered has serious systemic consequences that can lead to unintended results which are opposite to those that we would have hoped to achieve. Gono said Standard Chartered and its clients should ignore that threat.

For the full story, read Gono reassures foreign-owned banks in Harare by Sapa – AFP, published by The Star, Business Report on 11/04/13

David Okwara

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