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IAG Signs Deal to Buy 200 Boeing 737 Max Planes For $24bln

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International Airlines Group (IAG), one of the world’s largest airline groups, announced recently it plans to build its future fleet with the Boeing 737 MAX with an intention to purchase 200 MAX jets.

US manufacturer Boeing has faced a backlash in recent months after airlines around the world grounded its fleets of 737 Max 8 jets in the wake of two fatal crashes within five months. There where 157 lives lost in Ethiopia in March and 189 were killed in Indonesia in October 2018.

Boeing has had to update the software for its 737 Max aircraft and conduct a number of tests before receiving regulatory approvals to fly again.

In a statement, IAG and Boeing said the two companies have been in discussions regarding the opportunity and signed a letter of intent at the Paris Air Show in a deal that would be valued at more than U.S.$24 billion, per list prices.

IAG is the parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, Vueling and LEVEL that fly more than 113 million passengers a year combined.

The group has been a long-time operator of Boeing twin-aisle airplanes. Earlier this year, IAG group committed to and finalised a major order for Boeing’s newest long-haul model, the 777X, to complement its fleet of current-generation 777s and new 787 Dreamliners.

In the single-aisle segment, IAG and its affiliates used to operate Classic 737 aircraft but today its fleet is almost exclusively Airbus A320 family aircraft.

Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said the group would consider the 737 MAX as part of diversifying its future fleet to spur competition.

“We’re very pleased to sign this letter of intent with Boeing and are certain that these aircraft will be a great addition to IAG’s short-haul fleet,” Walsh said.

“We have every confidence in Boeing and expect that the aircraft will make a successful return to service in the coming months having received approval from the regulators.”

In selecting the 737 MAX, IAG said it will fly a combination of the 737 MAX 8, which seats up to 178 passengers in a two-class configuration, and the larger 737 MAX 10 jet, which can accommodate as many as 230 passengers.

The airline did not disclose a specific split between the two MAX models, though it anticipates deploying the aircraft at a number of the group’s airlines including Vueling and LEVEL.

Kevin McAllister, president and chief executive of Boeing commercial airplanes, said they were honored and humbled by the leadership at InAG for placing their trust and confidence in the 737 MAX.

“We are delighted that the IAG team recognised the superior qualities of the 737 MAX and has indicated an intention to return to the Boeing 737 family. We look forward to building on our long-standing partnership with IAG for many years to come,” McAllister said.

Source: African News Agency (ANA)

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Safaricom post-IPO investor wealth rises to Sh1.3trn peak

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The Safaricom stock hit a historic peak recently, closing at a high of Sh32.80 per share on Friday, thereby swelling investor wealth eightfold since its listing on June 9, 2008, inclusive of dividends.
Shareholder wealth as measured by market capitalisation has now touched Sh1.314 trillion, representing an increase of a whopping Sh1.114 trillion from the time the company listed 40 billion shares at Sh5 a share 11 and a half years ago.
When the company’s cumulative dividend pay-out totalling Sh301.2 billion over the 12-year period is added, Safaricom investors have enjoyed a return of 708 percent on initial investment of Sh200 billion. The dividend alone has been enough to allow investors to recoup their capital at listing and remain with an additional Sh101.2 billion balance.
The gains last week also pushed the company valuation as a share of the entire market to 50.4 percent and underlined its dominance on the stock market. Crossing the 50 percent threshold means Safaricom’s market worth is now more than the combined valuation of all the other 61 listed companies.
Analysts have attributed the rally in the last one year to sustained foreign demand, with the growth in dividends being a key factor in driving its attractiveness to investors who have few other options to make money in the market.
“The feel-good factor surrounding Safaricom has spilled over into the New Year, on bullish sentiments by foreign investors,” said Standard Investment Bank analysts in a note.
Last year, the stock led the market in net foreign inflows at Sh4.6 billion, which backed a share price gain of 42 percent to Sh31.50 between January and December 2019. During the year, foreign investors accounted for 75.4 percent of total traded volumes on the counter.
Since the beginning of this year, the stock has gained 4.1 percent. The company’s ability to continue to generate record profits — combined with a generous dividend policy that sees it pay out 80 percent of net earnings to shareholders — helped maintain demand through a bear run that gripped the NSE between 2015 and mid last year.
Safaricom has managed to make large capital investments in telecommunications infrastructure, introduce new services and pay incremental dividends with minimal debt and without seeking additional funding from shareholders.
The firm has therefore been able to build up cash reserves quickly, culminating in two special dividend pay-outs in the past four years.
In the year ended March 2019, the company declared a final dividend per share of Sh1.25 and an additional special distribution of Sh0.62 per share, bringing the total to Sh74.92 billion.
M-Pesa
It had also paid a special dividend of Sh0.68 per share during the financial year ending March 2017, on top of an ordinary dividend of Sh0.97 a share.
Driven by growth in M-Pesa revenue, the firm’s net profit for the year ending March 2019 rose by 14.7 percent to Sh63.4 billion.
In the six months to September 2019, its profits recorded a similar margin of growth — 14.4 percent to Sh35.65 billion — again on strong M-Pesa and mobile data revenue performance.
Egyptian investment firm EFG Hermes Holding said in their 2020 yearbook markets report that the rise in profitability and market capitalisation of Safaricom and large banks, while the rest of the market lags behind, will see their dominance become more entrenched at the NSE.
These are the stocks most likely to benefit from an expected return to the equities market by local institutional investors, who have in the past three years tended towards the fixed income segment. “Local institutions remained invested in fixed income for most of 2019, but the impact of the rate cap repeal on local rates and monetary easing could force more local institutional money back into equities in 2020,” said EFG Hermes in the report.
Safaricom’s influence on the market has, however, had the effect of skewing the performance trends of the main indices, depending on whether they are weighted on price or market capitalisation.
The market cap weighted NSE All Share Index is currently at a 16-month high of 171.36 points, reflecting the positive effect of the huge weight that Safaricom has on the index due to its valuation.
On the other hand, the price weighted NSE 20 share index, where blue chips with a high nominal price (such as BAT Kenya, Bamburi, EABL and Standard Chartered) carry more weight, has benefitted less from Safaricom’s gain.
It closed at 2,701 points on Friday, which is below its 2020 high of 2,707 points recorded on January 3.

Source:Business Daily

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Absa lending capacity boosted with $497m guarantee

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One of the largest diversified financial service providers in Africa, Absa Group has announced that its lending capacity will increase following a $497m guarantee singed between the South African-based banking group and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.
The guarantee, which was implemented by Absa Group recently, will help the bank expand financing across seven countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
It further added that, “This creates an opportunity to grow lending, with focus on increasing sustainable financing for corporates and small and medium-sized businesses, as well as projects with climate benefits”.
Absa said Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, a member of the World Bank Group, will issue guarantees of $497m for as long as 15 years in Absa’s subsidiaries in Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Zambia.
It explained further that the guarantees will help to protect Absa against risks related to mandatory capital reserves, free up financial capacity, enable Absa’s subsidiaries to provide additional lending and generate more revenue.
According to Mr Jason Quinn, the Absa Group financial director, he said that,” The guarantee allows us to provide additional financing in our subsidiaries in Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Zambia.”
Absa Group Limited (‘Absa Group’) is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and is one of Africa’s largest diversified financial services groups.
Absa Group offers an integrated set of products and services across personal and business banking, corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management and insurance.
Absa Group has a presence in 12 countries in Africa, with approximately 40 000 employees.

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$33m German bank cash to support 10,000 SMEs

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The African Guarantee Fund (AGF) recently said the additional $33 million financing from German lender KfW Development Bank it received will help realise its goal of providing financial guarantees for over 10,000 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Africa yearly.
This, it said, would be achieved through partnering financial institutions and as a trickledown effect, create 30, 000 jobs yearly.
According to the Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Felix Bikpo, he said that the new capital injection in AGF came when the continent’s SME sector has been singled out as a key driver of growth.
He said it will catapult AGF’s efforts to enable African SMEs continue to play their critical role in driving Africa’s economy.
Bikpo said the new financing now placed AGF firmly on the driver’s seat as the champion that eases access to financing for SMEs across the continent.
He stated further that, “We are excited about the confidence our shareholders and partners have in what we are doing in Africa. This capital injection will go a long way in ensuring that we continue to make a positive impact in the continent.
“So far, we have cumulatively issued more than $1 billion worth of guarantees, making available about $1.7 billion for SME financing through our partner financial institutions. This has led to the creation of more than 100, 000 additional jobs”.
He said of the 20, 000 African SMEs from various economic sectors that have so far benefited from AGF guarantees, the institution is very proud that 60 per cent of these SMEs are owned by youth who are the majority in Africa.
Bikpo added that 30 per cent of the SMEs are owned by women, adding that youths and women are demographics that heavily impact Africa’s economy.
His words: “Our experience traversing Africa has shown us that women in Africa are tenacious entrepreneurs, even though they face a gender financing gap of $42 billion.
“The capital increase from KfW will largely be used to increase financing of women owned or led businesses.
“This is in addition to our partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) through the recently launched Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) which currently has a $251 million commitment from G7 countries.”
The AGF was founded by the government of Denmark through the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the government of Spain through the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID) and the AfDB.
Other shareholders include: French Development Agency (AFD), Nordic Development Fund (NDF), Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU) and KfW.

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