Africa banking

Two African countries – Senegal and South Africa – are just months away from issuing sukuk, or Islamic bonds, seeking to attract cash-rich Middle Eastern and Asian investors to finance their large infrastructure programmes, Islamic finance bankers told a meeting of the African Development Bank.

The move represents a potentially significant boost for the profile of Islamic finance in Africa. Until now, Gambia and Sudan have been the only countries on the continent to issue a sukuk – and they were only for tiny sums. Continue reading »

Africa needs infrastructure above everything else, but doesn’t have enough finance. True?

Not quite, perhaps. Prior to a Davos debate on investment challenges in Africa, Ben Kruger of Standard Bank warned: “If we focus on the wrong challenges, the world will move ahead without us.” Ahead of Thursday’s debate on Investment Trends in Africa, he put forward some counter-intuitive views. They can be distilled into two myths. Continue reading »

With the prospect of Fed tapering looming increasingly large on the horizon, emerging market entities have been scrabbling to issue debt while the price is still right. On Thursday, Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur (BMCE Bank) joined party when it launched a $300m five-year eurobond at a yield of 6.5 per cent – the largest international note ever to come from a Moroccan financial institution. Continue reading »

As incomes rise in Africa, the battle is on to snap up the millions of ‘unbanked’ – those without a bank account. The potential is vast: the African Development Bank says only 20 per cent of African families have bank accounts.

As well as innovative new players, the old global payment technology rivals Visa and MasterCard are keen to join in. Both are looking to enlarge their footprint in different corners of the continent. Continue reading »

Ecobank Transnational has ridden the boom in African banking and has bold regional ambitions. But the Financial Times has seen documents that suggest some shareholders are unhappy with its leadership. Africa editor William Wallis talks to Daniel Garrahan about the outlook for the bank.

When a short seller launches a public attack on a company, the resulting storm can lead to a big dip in share price as investors digest the charge sheet – see Muddy Waters on Olam.

But African Bank, South Africa’s biggest household lender, saw its shares climb on Thursday despite a highly critical presentation by David Stemerman of Conatus at a conference in New York on Wednesday. A less-than-convincing case by the short seller? Or a question of the bad news already being out there? Continue reading »

Lebanon has long exported its bankers and financiers across the world, but its banks have generally remained fairly conservative domestic institutions, venturing only carefully outside the country’s borders, writes Robin Wigglesworth.

Yet given the country’s perennial political turmoil – interspersed with the occasional bout of violence – many Lebanese banks have in recent years looked abroad for opportunities to diversify their operations. One of the pioneers has been Byblos Bank, the third-largest financial institution in Lebanon by assets.

Absa has agreed to buy Barclays Africa in an all-share deal worth R18,33bn (£1.3bn), writes Alistair Gray.

As a result, Barclays – which paid $4.5bn for a majority stake in Absa in 2005 – will increase its stake in one of South Africa’s big four banks from 55.5 per cent to 62.3 per cent. Continue reading »