Investing in Africa – The Challenge of High Returns, Liquidity, Currency Risk and Corporate Governance
by Diana Buraka
Fund managers casting their eyes on hot African ventures. Investing in Africa is still seen as a risky venture, but the quest for higher returns and margins makes this continent attractive for global investors in the long-term. Double digit returns in fixed income investments in selected countries can be attractive in the current low interest rate environment and provide some diversification. Diana Buraka with a report from Fund Forum Africa 2016 in London.
A few years ago one would wonder ‘why’ investing in Africa, whereas now the question is ‘why not’. Considering the growing consumer demand and increasingly liberalised industries it is no surprise that Africa has become a popular destination for business investment.
Diana Buraka, correspondent at FundForum Africa: “Investment in Africa is a very diverse topic. A broad range of views were presented at this year’s FundForum Africa conference. Talking to delegates, fund managers and analysts here it was interesting to see the difference in perspective. Investors and managers based in Africa come up with an assessment which is in contrast to the views of international investors. Overall, Africa is still a continent of opportunities. New technologies, FinTech and innovation in energy and telecom markets as well as financial services represent substantial growth potential.”
Liquidity is a challenge in Africa
But there are also enough reasons to be skeptical about Africa’s sunny growth prospects. Besides corruption, political and systemic risks the number of businesses that are big enough to attract large private equity funds is still limited.
Even when managers have found a promising deal, the owners are often reluctant to give up control. And those who managed to spot the right company and improve its performance within a few years after buying it, struggle to exit by means of an IPO listing due to low liquidity on local stock markets.
Institutional investors face challenges in Africa
For an institutional investor in particular it is very challenging to extract money out of the country or repatriate dividends. This represents a significant risk.
“The biggest fear is getting your money out. Nigeria has imposed capital controls. Egypt has followed a similar approach. If you are an institutional investor or if you are a fiduciary acting on behalf of the pension holders or other investors, you just cannot take such kind of lock up risk in a liquid market. It is just too irresponsible investment, and this is a huge barrier in two of the most liquid markets on the continent” said Adam Choppin, Manager Research – International Equities, Investment Strategy, at FIS Group, Inc at the Fund Forum Africa 2016.
Sound institutional set-up is key for development
Albert Reiter, CEO of e-fundresearch.com and investRFP.com who chaired a high-profile panel at FundForum Africa this year adds: “The institutional set-up in a number of countries is already well developed but the track-record of good governance is still short”. Olusegun Omoniwa, Head of Managed Investments at the Wealth Management Unit of Standard Chartered in Nigeria confirms that there would be a good basis for development of strong local institutional markets: “The pension system in Nigeria is very similar to the one in Chile. Strong domestic institutions and a developed framework could stabilize markets in times of crisis.”
Investors evaluate Frontier Markets in the search for yield
“Talking to institutional bond investors this week I hear that more and more investors start looking at frontier markets also in the search for yield. In the fixed income markets it makes sense to add a few percentage points of double-digit coupons in currencies which have under-performed recently”, explains Albert Reiter from e-fundresearch.com.
The brave will take the risk
Besides the currency risks and plummeting commodity prices, political unrests have lowered the appetite of the more risk-averse fund managers. This may bring down the price tags of the overvalued companies and open up new opportunities for those who are brave enough to take the risk.
“The policies of the Zuma government in South Africa had a negative impact on growth but they’ve been unlucky with the economic cycle also. Both things happened at the same time and that’s a rough cocktail to overcome. I don’t see either of those things changing in the next year” added Adam Choppin by FIS Group, Inc.
More upside on the horizon
Despite some caution there was a rather optimistic outlook on investing in Africa during panel discussions at the FundForum Africa 2016. Stephan Breban, Investment Consultant at RisCura reminded that the biggest headwind for investments in Africa remains to be the misperception and a lack of knowledge also.
“The people will tell you about the oil price collapse, about the political instability, the currency instability, but the reality is, that the number one headwind for in Africa is misperception. People tell you that Africa is failing, but every problem you see is not unique and it was just repeated again. Probably the answer has already been found somewhere.”
Entrepreneurship is Africa’s biggest asset
South Africa is still an important power-house in Africa and home to very dynamic companies and entrepreneurs. With the right policies the country could return to growth. Although the current climate is rather defensive and there is talk about rating downgrades there is also reason to be optimistic.
Albert Reiter: “The most recent elections resulted in some surprises for a number of market participants. Herman Mashaba, the new mayor of Johannesburg who made his money as an entrepreneur in the hair-care business, was offered this job by the Democratic Alliance. He is one of the people to watch as he governs and manages a city of 5 million people – close to 10 percent of the country’s population. If he succeeds it would be very promising for the future of the whole country. He is definitely one to take up the challenge.”
by Diana Buraka
As a performer, I see no harm in making emotional decisions, but when it comes to serious matters such as Britain’s membership of the European Union, the arguments should be more pragmatic than those of voting for the finalists of Britain’s Got Talent or Strictly Come Dancing…
There is not doubt, that Britain’s got talent, but together with Europe, it will have much more talent to make this country proud of its achievements! For example, on the International Dance scene, Britain has for years been represented by the Belgian dancer, Joanna Leunis and the Polish dancer, Michael Malitowski. For several years, Michael and Joanna were championing this country as victors in the World Dance Championship. Those talented dancers from the countries of the Brussels Eurocrats and the Polish plumbers were dedicating their art and careers for the glory of Great Britain… If Britain wasn’t welcoming multicultural talent from all over Europe, it would have never remained at the top of the international Ballroom dance scene.
Talking about couple dancing, there are many parallels in the principle of teamwork, and long-term relationship building as a basis for successful cooperation.
The European Union is just like any other relationship, which is not perfect, but it can bring great rewards, if there is a will to engage and to make it prosper.
The proof, is my own success as a professional dancer. It took us many years to shape our dance partnership to become French Champions in Latin American dancing and reap the rewards of our successful partnership on the international dance scene representing France. If Britain remains in Europe, it can shape European cooperation and will carve its unique role within, striving for a successful future together!
by Diana Buraka
To understand the vague logic behind the will to leave Europe, I decided to get on to the streets of London and to talk to those, who believe they will be better off turning their backs on their neighbours, naïvely hoping to continue benefiting from the European single market in the same friendly spirit.
While the Remain campaign talks about the real economy, Nigel Farage is relentlessly repeating the same old broken record on immigration, playing on emotional strings, that have nothing to do with logic or common sense. Slamming the doors in the face of skilled and talented Europeans, who make this country thrive by working and paying their taxes, is not the way to handle the immigration issue.
Nick, 58, from Woodford, is a souvenir stall keeper in the most touristic part of central London. I stopped at his stall and asked him, if he sells T-shirts with an “I’M IN” slogan. After thanking an Italian tourist for buying a souvenir from his stall, Nick turned to me and said: ‘I hope we leave Europe and stop the immigrants coming to Britain’. Considering what he said from a logical point of view, if there is anyone, who should be genuinely hoping for Britain to remain in the EU, it should be a souvenir vendor like Nick, otherwise, who will buy his souvenirs if not the foreigners, who flood into London?
Nick grumbled, that there are not enough jobs for everyone in the UK, but I told him that in Switzerland, a country that is outside the EU, where I lived and worked almost a decade, I have witnessed louder anti-immigration voices, as Switzerland, like any other country with a high standard of living, attracts newcomers in their pursuit for a better future. So, leaving the EU is no guarantee of fewer immigrants.
Let’s pray, that talented Europeans will still wish to remain in Britain after London loses its crown as the most multicultural and cosmopolitan city in Europe. And also, let’s hope that stall vendors like Nick will still have enough tourists to buy his souvenirs…
In my pursuit for a logical reason to leave Europe, I spoke to Mike, 52, a black cab driver from Greenwich. I asked Mike, about his reasons to vote for Brexit. Mike expressed his worries about the job shortage for black cab drivers. ‘Isn’t it an inevitable result of globalization and technological progress?’, I thought…. But ironically, Mike did not even mention his true worry, which was competition from Uber, instead blaming the immigrants… Neither did he seem to be aware, that a big part of his own income comes from the foreigners who use his services.
Rounding off my discussions with the Brexit supporters that I spoke to, I was left with an impression, that the vote to Leave is so misleading, that even those directly dependent on the European clientele, are not aware of the negative impact on their own financial well-being! If the UK should leave Europe, it will be an impulsive mistake, that in the long run will benefit nobody!
by Diana Buraka
Britain’s leading role on the global cultural arena can only be reinforced if Britain remains part of Europe. To a large extent, Britain has carved out its leading role in the creative industry thanks to its cosmopolitan nature, attracting the best of European talents.
Creative people across the UK believe in Europe. As one of the international performers living in the UK and the French dance champion, I join the efforts of the big names like Danny Boyle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jude Law and Keira Knightley to support the Remain Vote.
Remaining in the EU means access to the £1.07 Billion Creative Europe funding scheme. It means, British artists and performers will continue to inspire and influence the rest of the continent with their creativity. It also means, that the UK, and particularly vibrant cultural cities like London, retain their appeal for the far-reaching European audiences for any West End play or musical.
Creativity has no borders, race nor nationality, instead, it endorses the free spirit, expressiveness and inspiration, that comes with an open-minded approach of people working together, applying freely for projects and grants across the EU and bringing together brilliant ideas and talents.
Looking forward to be on the radio show today with the celebrity chef and restaurateur, Aldo Zilli!
‘Aldo Zilli’s After service’ will be shown today, the 10th of December 2015, 2-4pm on Soho Radio.
I don’t really have the face for the radio, but I guess, it’s gona be be fine! 😉
Dear Friends, some of you wanted to attend fashion shows, at which I am involved as a model or presenter/host. Please find the list below. I would appreciate if you could get in touch directly with the organizer in case you are interested to attend any of the events, because it is an incredibly busy time for me right now 😉 I hope to see you there! Diana
19th of September 2015 – INNU LONDON – Fashion show at the Kensington Roof Gardens
20th of September 2015 (Sun) – Fashion Show with Fashion TV
at the Montcalm Hotel Marble Arch
22nd of September (Tue) – ROYAL FASHION DAY – LONDON FASHION WEEK Sept 2015
To attend the The Royal Fashion Day use this link:
24th of September 2015 (Thur) – KAOSKA FASHION SHOW 2015
Tickets and Reservation (Rsvp)
27th of September 2015 (Sun) – NINA NAUSTDAL COUTURE LONDON
This one goes to all my friends and colleagues, journalists/bloggers:
Currently I am writing a PRESS RELEASE for KAOSKA fashion show on the 24th of September. I will be hosting this show as a Master of Ceremony. Please let me know if any of you are interested to BE INVITED and to WRITE A FEATURE on it. If interested, please GET IN TOUCH with me asap!
Please see the video that I’ve produced from Kaoska Show last year:
Hosting a private evening for Rolls-Royce at Sotheby’s Auction House in London. Rolls-Royce experience in the world of the Russian Art including works of Konstantin Makovsky, Boris Kustodiev and Ilya Mashkov. To support the idea of the Russian Socialist Realism movement, I joined the numbers of Russian women depicted in RED ;-). Though, unlike the Socialist Realism artists, glorifying the working class, today I celebrate the true Perl of the Capitalism in its purest form and the decadence of the Russian Elite in the name of the most luxurious brand of the century! J
Leaving to Germany to work for Rolls Royce at the Motor Show in Frankfurt with the true Spirit of Ecstasy! 😉
Off to Zurich for the Rothschild Investors Summer Academy this Thursday. Next week exploring the latest on financial markets at the Fund Forum International 2013 in Monaco.