Hotel development activity in Africa is still rising in the face of the continent’s economic problems, showing a 13 per cent increase in 2017, according to the annual survey by W Hospitality Group, generally acknowledged as the most authoritative source on the sector’s growth.
The ninth edition of its Hotel Chain Development Pipelines in Africa has 36 international and regional contributors reporting almost 73,000 rooms in 417 hotels. The figures have grown each year, more than doubling since 2009.
This year, bragging rights are shared; Marriott International, boosted by its merger with Starwood, comes top of the table in terms of number of rooms planned. But AccorHotels continues to lead – just – by the number of hotels in its pipeline. By country, Egypt is in first place with the highest number of hotel rooms in the on-site construction phase.
The report, along with all the challenges of developing new hotels in Africa will be discussed by industry leaders and government officials at the seventh Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) in Kigali, in October. AHIF is the highest-level gathering of hotel investors and developers in Africa.
Many African countries faced a challenging 2016, with lower prices for oil and other commodities, devalued currencies and other negative factors. That may have affected confidence in the short-term, as the number of deals signed was 86, down from 121 in 2015.
Despite the slowdown, some countries benefited from cheaper oil imports and there was increased activity in southern and east Africa. In addition, more hotel chains established development offices on the continent, to address the fact that Africa is still massively under-provided with rooms.
Growth is expected to be more muted in 2017, and financing and bureaucratic hurdles remain, but an increasing number of deals are coming to fruition on time: from only 26 per cent opening their doors on schedule in 2014, to 47 per cent in 2016.
SOME KEY FINDINGS:
The results show that investor confidence is returning to North Africa after several years of turmoil and uncertainty in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia.
In the ranking by number of hotels, AccorHotels has two brands in the top five positions – Ibis Styles and Grand Mercure, both pipelines primarily in Angola.
When ranked by the number of rooms, the Hilton brand displaces Radisson Blu from last year’s top slot.
AccorHotels continues to lead the ranking of the chains – as opposed to individual brands – by number of planned hotels, 84 vs 83.
Nigeria has the most hotels and rooms in the development pipeline, but Egypt has the most rooms actually under construction, almost 75% of the total.
Marriott, AccorHotels, Hilton and Carlson Rezidor Group retain their position as the top four hotel chains by pipeline status.
Based on the hotel deals signed by the chains at the time of the survey, their anticipated opening years are shown in the table below. A hundred new hotels are expected to open their doors this year and 117 next year, although expectations are often over-optimistic, as noted above!
W Hospitality Group managing director, Trevor Ward, said: “Several countries in Africa have suffered severe economic problems in the past couple of years.
“But there are encouraging signs that we are turning a corner in 2017, and whilst growth is more muted, there is definitely an acceptance of the “new normal”, with a desire to move forward again in a climate of lower-valued currencies, less government spending and lower GDP growth.
“The world in 2017 is a very different place to when we started this survey in 2009. But Africa is still rising, at least as far as the development activities of the hotel chains is concerned. Whilst the chains do not, generally, build or invest in the hotels they brand, at the other side of every deal there is an investor eager to do so.”
Matthew Weihs, managing director of Bench Events, concluded: “With many more rooms in the pipeline and a much higher proportion being built on time, one has to recognise that hotel development in Africa is becoming an increasingly serious business.”
About W Hospitality Group
The W Hospitality Group, a member of Hotel Partners Africa, specialises in the provision of advisory services to the hotel, tourism and leisure industries, providing a full range of services to clients who have investments in the sector, or who are looking to enter them through development, acquisition or other means. In sub-Saharan Africa the W Hospitality Group is regarded as the market leader due to the market and financial expertise of its staff, its worldwide knowledge, and its commitment to its clients. In Africa, W Hospitality Group has to date worked in 39 countries on the continent, from its Lagos and Addis Ababa offices.
About the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF)
AHIF is the premier hotel investment conference in Africa, attracting many prominent international hotel owners, investors, financiers, management companies and their advisers. It is organised by Bench Events (www.benchevents.com), which is known for producing, alongside Questex Travel + Hospitality and MEED Events, several other top-level hotel conferences around the world including Berlin (IHIF), Dubai (AHIC), Istanbul (CATHIC) and Moscow (RHIC).
Sponsors of AHIF Rwanda are: Host Sponsors: Rwanda Development Board; Platinum Sponsors: AccorHotels, Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International and The Rezidor Hotel Group; Gold Sponsors: Best Western; Colliers International, Grant Thornton; Horwath HTL, Hotel Partners Africa, JLL, Kempinski, Minor Hotels, Mövenpick; STR, Swiss Education Group and Wyndham Worldwide
About Bench Events
Global event organiser Bench Events has a long track record of delivering multiple premium hotel investment conferences and forums across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Market leading annual conferences include the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in Dubai, now in its 13th year, the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) the new Asia Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (AHTIC), The Summit in London and the Latin American Hotel & Tourism Investment Conferences (SAHIC).
Bench Events’ extensive portfolio also includes the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) in Dubai and AviaDev, designed to promote the future air connectivity in Africa.
Bench Events’ mission is enabling prosperity by facilitating growth, networking, and thought leadership in the hospitality industry worldwide.
For further information and high resolution images, please visit http://www.africa-conference.com or contact:
- Sophie Luis, Tarsh Consulting, Email: [email protected] Tel: +44 (0) 20 7112 8556, Cel: +44 (0) 7961 145 787.
- David Tarsh, Tarsh Consulting, Email: [email protected], Tel: +44 (0) 20 7602 5262, Cel: +44 (0) 7770 816 070.
Champion Breweries, Raysun deal highlights disclosure shortcomings
Is Heineken taking over Champions Brewery?
Champion Breweries Plc informed the Nigerian Stock Exchange, last week, via a press release that an insider, Raysun, had purchased about 1.9 billion shares at a price of N2.6 per share.
The disclosure was part of the stock exchange’s requirement that listed companies must reveal deals made by insiders of the company for the benefit of shareholders and the investor community.
That’s about how far the press release went. It did not reveal why Raysun was purchasing? Who they purchased the shares from and why the deal is being consummated? In terms of corporate disclosure, this was a dud.
Raysun is the largest shareholder and majority owner of Champions Breweries. Raysun is also an entity owned by Heineken, the majority shareholder in Nigeria Breweries Plc – the largest brewer in the country. Thus, Heineken is an indirect shareholder of Champions Breweries.
These relationships give this deal enough scrutiny to warrant a better disclosure starting from the actual purchase of shares revealed in the press release.
Here are some contexts;
Champion Breweries shares breakdown
- Champions Breweries has a total of 7.82 million shares outstanding at the time of this purchase
- Raysun held about 60.4% shares in Champions Breweries according to disclosure in its 2019 annual report.
- Asset Management Nominees and Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation own 12.3% and 10% respectively. The rest of its shareholders own about 17.3% or 1,351,954 units.
- At the current share price of N1.12, Champion Breweries is valued at N10.57 billion by the market.
- However, Raysun’s purchase of 1.9 billion shares at N2.6 per share (valued at N4.9 billion, almost half of the current market capitalization), now values the company at about N20.3 billion.
Where did the shares come from? This is a vital question and here is why.
Going by the number of shares they bought last week (24% of equity), they only could have been able to purchase that many shares by buying up all the shares owned by the Asset Nominees (12.3%), all the shares owned by Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation (10%) and another 3% from other regular shareholders.
It could also be that either or both Asset Nominees and Akwa Ibom IC sold part of their shares and then they made up the rest by purchasing some from the market. Why is Heineken, through Raysun, acquiring so many shares? Is there a takeover deal in the offing? Do they plan to merge Champions Breweries with Nigeria Breweries or still keep it as a standalone company? Will Champions Brewery cease to exist if there is a merger or will they delist following this massive acquisition of the shares of their subsidiary?
The speculation is palpable.
This is what happens when listed companies refuse to properly disclose transactions involving mega share purchases of this nature. How does a majority shareholder go from 60.4% of shares to 84% and an announcement is not made explaining or clarifying who sold and if this is a takeover bid.
But investors seem not to mind at the moment, if the momentum of the share price is anything to go by. A 57% year to date gain is a testament to this. It appears investors expect a mandatory takeover announcement to be made anytime soon and are scrambling for the shares ahead of any announcement.
Unfortunately, this is not how markets should work anywhere, and the sooner it stops the better. The Nigerian Stock Exchange has made massive progress with compliance to disclosure requirements and we believe strongly that they will at some point bring Champion Breweries to order and have them disclose all the requisite information about this transaction. Better late than never.
Downstream players suffer revenue declines due to Covid-19, forex, fuel subsidy
2020 has no doubt been one of the most challenging years for players in the oil and gas downstream sector, having to deal with several issues.
Nigeria’s downstream oil and gas players are in the midst of one of the lowest revenue declines in their history of operations. In an industry used to the highs and lows of economic and commodity price cycles, 2020 poses one of the greatest challenges to oil and gas companies.
Total Plc, 11 Plc, MRS, Ardova and Conoil are some of the major downstream players (all quoted) that have suffered revenue declines and margin drops in one of the worst years in modern history.
- Conoil Plc, one of the major downstream players reported its 2020 9 months results revealing revenue declined 21.84% YoY t0 N88.1 billion.
- 11Plc, another major player in the sector, also saw its topline revenues plummet from N141.5 billion in the first 9 months of 2019 to N114.7 billion in the corresponding period in 2020.
- Total Nigeria Plc, one of the largest players in the downstream sector also recorded declining revenues. In 2019 it reported total sales of N181.6 billion compared to N117.3 billion in 2019. The 35% drop was the largest of the lot.
- The only outlier of the lot was Ardova Petroleum which somehow managed to record revenue growth with 2020 9 months revenue rising to N116 billion compared to N110.7 billion same period the year before.
In general, revenues for the major oil and gas downstream players in the country fell by a whopping 21% from N646.8 billion in 2019 (9M) to N514.2 billion in the corresponding period in 2020. What is to blame for these declines? Covid-19!
The Covid-19 pandemic triggered a nationwide lockdown for most of 2020 that has negatively impacted demand for petroleum products across the country. The lockdown has grossly affected volumes for downstream oil and gas companies hitting their margins and profitability.
Businesses across the country such as manufacturers, airlines, restaurants, schools, the transportation sector and motor vehicle owners have all reduced their demand for fossil fuel.
The downstream sector has also struggled to take advantage of the drop in oil prices as they still need to deal with the multiple devaluation of the naira and being able to gain access to foreign exchange. Their inability to access the forex market leaves them with little choice but to continue to rely on NNPC, the sole importer of petroleum products for their inventories.
In a recent comment, the Chairman of Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), Mrs. Winifred Akpani, lamented that “the inability to source FOREX from the official CBN FOREX window by independent marketers is continually hindering the effectiveness of the principles of DEMAND and SUPPLY market forces to correct the current inefficiencies in the pricing mechanisms adopted in the deregulation process.”
Mrs. Akpani also explained that inability of marketers to source FOREX creates a situation which can be described as “pseudo subsidy” in the market, suggesting that being forced to sell petroleum products at fixed prices means they cannot recover their importation cost, most of which is paid for in US dollars.
This is further exacerbated by the fact that the federal government regulates pricing irrespective of the unique operating costs of these private oil companies. Also, being the sole importer of petroleum products means the NNPC will likely pass on inefficiencies in managing cost to petroleum marketers, eliminating any chances of efficient pricing that can be obtained from increased competition. The effects of these are low profit margins and ‘never-shifting’ revenue positions, except for exceptional cases.
Last December, the Federal Government revealed it was ending its subsidy programme, increasing fuel to reflect its market cost. However, it balked after pressure from the labour unions, reducing prices without recourse to sector players.
Despite these challenges, the sector will likely eke out some profits largely due to cost cutting initiatives and income from ancillary businesses. However, dividend payment might be a challenge as it will be advisable for these companies to set aside cash for what could be a pivotal year.
The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will likely be signed into law this year and will produce new investment opportunities for the downstream sector if things go as planned. The government will likely relinquish its hold on the sector and fully deregulate the downstream before the end of the year.
When it does, those with a strong balance sheet will be winners.
Notore Chemicals is swimming in debts – company to access equity market in Q2 2021
Notore is swimming in debts and this will stifle any chances of profitability at least in the short to medium term.
The story of Nigeria’s 24-year privatisation journey cannot be complete without mentioning the National Fertilizer Company of Nigeria (NAFCON), established in 1981 to produce and sell fertilizer.
The company began fertilizer production 6 years after it was incorporated, followed by years of mismanagement and corruption which forced the company to shut down 11 years later in 1999. The company resurrected again in 2005 following its privatisation, resulting in a sale of $152 million to new owners and then rebranding itself to Notore Chemicals.
Today, the company manufactures, treats, processes, produces, supplies, and deals in nitrogenous fertilizer and all substances suited to improving the fertility of soil and water. The Company has a 500,000 metric tonne Urea Plant in Onne, Rivers State, Nigeria, generating circa N18.7 billion (2019: N21.4 billion) in revenues as reported in its 2020 audited accounts for the period ended September 30, 2020.
In 2020, the company embarked on a massive Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) programme for its plants, which it targets will help boost its production levels to 500,000MT nameplate design capacity. The company further claims that 70% of the revenue earned from the operation of the plant post TAM filter into its bottom line, hence boosting profitability.
The importance of its TAM cannot be overemphasized. Notore earns 97% of its revenues from fertilizer sale of Urea and other chemicals. About 17% of the revenues are generated from export, thus the potential is there to improve sales and perhaps bottom line locally and within Africa.
But to achieve its TAM plans, Notore has doubled down on its debt binge. Total borrowing for the year spiked from N79.9 billion in 2019 to N108.3 billion in 2020. Whilst most of the loans came from new loans, the rest was due to a devaluation. Notore is swimming in debts and this will stifle any chances of profitability at least in the short to medium term.
Out of its N108 billion loan, it owes Afrexim $38 million (N14.75b); $5.1 million is due within a year as it reported in its audited financial statements. The dollar facility came at a steep 12.7% interest rate and is repayable over 84 months (7 years). There is also another $72.86 million (N29.08b) facility, out of which $5.85 million is due this year – also at an interest rate of 12.7%.
Thus, the company will have to find at least a whopping $10.9 million (excluding interest rates) to fund all its external loan obligations that fall due in one year. How it intends to achieve it this year is anyone’s guess.
Another N16.79 billion are BOI-CBN loans obtained at concessionary rates of about 7%, add commercial bank loans of N44.46 billion at an interest rate of 23%, you start to understand how much debt the company is swimming in. These are unsustainable figures and is weighing down negatively on its balance sheets and profitability.
Interest on loans is now the company’s highest cost driver coming at N23.4 billion last year alone, topping cost of sales and operating expenses of N21.6 billion and N5.9 billion, respectively. In fact, finance cost was higher than revenue in 2020.
Notore recognizes this challenge and restructured some of its loans in 2020. There are also plans to raise capital in 2021 through a rights issue or public offer. Whilst that seems like a plausible route to go this year, the size of equity it will require will depend on its share price and how far it wishes to go in terms of being diluted.
At the current price of N62.5 per share, it will have to sell equity worth half its market capitalization of N100b to pay down just 50% of the debt. This will be a significantly expensive offer for potential investors considering that it has negative retained earnings of N29.1 billion and is unlikely to return to profitability anytime soon.
The company can, however, take solace in the fact that its outlook for its mainstay, Fertilizer, is brighter than its capital structure woes. Nigeria needs fertilizer if its to expand its Agriculture revolution plans. As the company stated “the consumption of fertilizer per hectare of arable land in Nigeria is still far below the 200kg per hectare recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organization,” buttressing the potential to grow topline. Export opportunities also exist especially with the start of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
Notore only needs to find a better way of financing its TAM programme and it cannot be sustained with the current capital structure.