23 August 2012

Zimbabwe: ABC Dispatches Zim Executive to Tanzania

Banking group, ABC Holdings Limited, which has reported a 53 percent rise in pre-tax profit to Botswana pula (BWP) 96 million during the half-year to June 30, 2012, has dispatched local bankers to take control of its perennially loss-making Tanzanian operation.

ABC Holdings Limited is the parent company of a number of sub-Saharan Africa banks operating under the BancABC brand that offer a diverse range of financial services including personal, business and corporate banking as well as asset management, stockbroking and treasury services.

Chief executive officer, Douglas Munatsi, has moved in to arrest a serious slide in profit in the east African economy, whose rebound has continued to be affected by shrinking interest margins and a toxic loan to the government of Tanzania whose terms have been reviewed but not in the interest of BancABC.

BancABC Tanzania's contribution to attributable profit retreated to minus four percent during the review period, from 14 percent during the six months to June 2011.

Total income declined by minus 26 percent to BWP33 million, from BWP45 million.

Munatsi said last week he had deployed Zimbabwean executives to take up the post of managing director (MD) and deputy managing director at BancABC Tanzania.

"We will continue to fix our problems in Tanzania," Munatsi told The Financial Gazette's Companies & Markets (C&M) after presenting the results to analysts.

He emphasised that BancABC was in Tanzania for the long haul, adding growth stimulating measures were in place.

"The MD and deputy MD are now Zimbabwean. We hope Tanza-nia will fix the problems. We expect to continue to grow in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. Those three countries will grow very fast," he added.

Munatsi, who said group profit was driven by a 144 percent increase in customers to 155 763 during the review period, from 63 891 in 2011, has followed a trend whereby Zimbabwean multi-nationals have seconded locals to guard key positions in their foreign operations.

The Rainbow Tourism has sent a Zimbabwean financial manager to Mozambique, while African Sun executives had been deployed across Africa.

BancABC's loss-making Tanzanian operation was the focus of last week's presentation.

But with southern Africa's highest population and Gross Domestic Product, ABC Holdings chief financial officer, Beki Moyo, said Tanzania was too attractive for them to exit. There is the bigger picture to look at, Moyo told analysts in Harare.

"We are in Tanzania for the long haul, not for a short time," said Moyo.

"We have made lots of progress in Tanzania," he added.

He said the group had increased its capital base in Tanzania to the equivalence of US$20 million from US$1 million in June 2011 in order to attract bigger companies to borrow.

"This is an attractive market with a high population and high deposits. We have learnt our lessons; we really have to look at our cashflows. Our capital in Tanzania was US$1 million. It means we can only lend US$200 000. Big companies will not be interested. We have moved our capital base in Tanzania to US$20 million," said Moyo.

During a period in which BancABC reported a solid performance across its entire spectrum of activities in southern Africa, Tanzanian operations remained in the red, with net interest income sliding by 38 percent.

BancABC Tanzania's deposits slowed by BWP86 million to BWP975 million as income declined by 26 percent.

The group's total assets moved by 18 percent during the review period to BWP10,8 billion from BWP7,4 billion during the half-year to June 30, 2011.

Total equity increased to BWP666 million during the review period, from 469 million in 2011 while loans and advances put up a 95 percent growth to BWP7,8 billion, from BWP4 billion during the prior comparative period in 2011.

BancABC is primarily listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, with a secondary listing on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

It reports in the BWP.

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