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Monday, November 2, 2015


The Black Entertainment Television channel, BET, has launched on DStv Compact and Compact Plus, content provider, Multichoice has said.

Currently, viewers on these packages get the sister channel BET 2.

BET the channel launched by entrepreneur Bob Johnson, and later sold to Viacom, primarily catered to African American audiences who were only marginally served by the mainstream entertainment channels.

It became known for popular hit shows like Rap City, Comic View, and so on.

It was on Comic View that the careers of many comedians like Steve Harvey, Bernie Mac, DC Curry among others.

According to Multichoice, the channel will showcase season 4 of the Real Husabands of Hollywood, the Wendy Williams show, Punk'd and so on.

Multichoice has also in the recent past added BBC Brit, Maisha Magic Bongo, MTV, Vuzu and MNET Family to the Compact package.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Local lender Imperial Bank has been taken over by the Kenya Deposits Insurance Company on orders of the Central Bank of Kenya on concerns that it was conducting unsound business practices.

Sources indicate that the takeover was ordered allegedly after fraud was discovered and the bank sought CBK protection.

CBK is itself yet to give credence to the claim.

But sources indicate that evidence of parallel banking operations being ran within the bank were discovered as the bank sought went through a succession process in its top management.

CBK in its statement said the bank was being taken over and its operations ran by KDIC to the exclusion of the board of directors with KDIC instructed to report back to the regulator on its considered advice for resolving the problem within the next 12 months.

The bank which was founded in 1992 operates in Kenya and Uganda and has 17 branches.

The shocking development comes against the backdrop of the death of the bank's MD Janmohammed on September 15, 2015 of a reported heart attack.

It also comes at a time when the economy is experienced a cash crunch suggesting that the lender was perhaps experiencing problems meeting its obligations as and when they became due.

The bank lent other banks money as recently as yesterday before today's announcement.

During a similar period in Nigeria during the global economic meltdown and accompanying financial crisis, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, sacked the bosses of five banks after he realized they were permanently borrowing from the CBN's discount window meaning they were borrowing to meet daily obligations.

Currently, the CBK in Kenya has effectively locked the discount window forcing the banking industry to either borrow within itself or unwind from the holdings of government debt it has.

CBK said it was ordering the takeover of Imperial Bank in the interest of debtors, creditors and members of the public.

Monday, October 5, 2015

GT Bank inks card deal with Payments giant EMP

Continental payments giant Emerging Markets Payments, EMP will now handle Mastercard transactions for GTBank (Guaranty Trust Bank), the Nigerian lender that bought out Fina Bank in Kenya.

EMP is a payments processing firm backed by private-equity fund Actis and has grown through acquisitions of payments processors in Africa and the Middle East.

GT Bank said it expects to scale up uptake of its Platinum MasterCard Credit card that it introduced into the Kenyan market in June.

EMP handles payments processing for over 140 banks on the continent and in the Middle East.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Startimes SA, a recent entrant into that market, has run into headwinds and is signaling it will retrench workers to try and stem financial losses.

The company part of the Startimes group that also includes Startimes Kenya, took over a floundering broadcaster TopTV in 2012 with plans to turn it around and compete for the lucrative South African market (SA has 50 times more DStv subscribers than Kenya for example).

But the going has apparently gotten tough forcing management to do "rationalization" as they call it.

In a circular to staff last week, Startimes SA boss, a Mike Dearham told employees  the company was in an unsustainable position and needed to act if it was to stay afloat.

"All employees are herewith advised of the intention of the company to rationalize its operations and related support activities," Dearham told his staff.

"The difficult economic times being experienced in the broadcasting industry have had an adverse effect on the financial position of the company."

Dearham said management would meet with staff to explore various options including reasons for the rationalization and possible ways to avoid retrenchment, number of staff to be affected, the method of selecting those to be affected and a time-table for the measures.

The company was in August last year barred from broadcasting pornographic content by a South African court robbing it of a potentially lucrative revenue stream.

It is also suing the Ghanaian government for cancellation of a contract to roll out Digital Transmission services and demaning US$200m.


Equity Bank says it has registered 1.15million users to its Equitel mobile money service and that August cash transfers hit Sh7.4bn up from Sh6.0bn in July.

Group CEO James Mwangi projected the numbers on a power point presentation to brief investors on recent business developments.

One was the sell-off by Helios Capital of more than half of their stake to other investors and the other was Equitel.

Cash transfers showed the highest growth rising from Sh2bn in January to Sh7.4bn in August.

Payments have seen more muted growth rising from Sh41m in Jan to Sh96m in August while withdrawals have over the same period risen from  Sh443m to Sh1.01bn.

Loan disbursements have also risen from about Sh750m at the beginning of the year to over Sh4.1bn last month.

The CEO also spoke about Helios Capital selling off much of their stake in Equity Bank. The private equity fund invested Sh11bn in 2007 for a 24.9 per cent stake in then budding grass roots lender and have many many times their original investments.

Recently, they sold half of their stake to Norfund and Norfinance for about Sh23bn. They then sold another stake equivalent to 2.44 per cent of Equity Group to NSSF Uganda for Sh4.5bn.

Others who bought the Helios stake include Genesis, with 5.4%, NSSF Kenya, NSSF Uganda, Renaissance Capital, AfricInvest and so on.

Norfund is now the largest single shareholder of Equity Group with a 12.22 per cent stake.

It is not clear how much money Helios got for its original investment but Mwangi said the exit was the first successful US$500m (Sh50bn) exit in sub-Saharan Africa.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


The government of Mauritius is waiting for Britam to complete its Sh7billion (USD70m) 31-storey Britam Tower before selling a 23 per cent stake it seized from Mauritian tycoon Dawood Rawat.

This is to allow the value of the company to increase and earn Mauritius the maximum cash it can get from offloading the shares.

The country's minister for Finance has said he will offload at US$128m (Sh12.8billion) if a seller offers that amount.

Currently, Britam's stock on the Nairobi Securities Exchange is trading at Sh17.20 (US17 cents) giving the company a market capitalization of Sh32billion.

This means if Mauritius was to sell the 23 per cent stake today, it would fetch them Sh7.1bn ($70m), a shortfall of about Sh5.7bn ($57m).

"They are waiting for the tower to be completed before they sell," a source close to the Finance Minister said.

The information is likely to get Private Equity funds thinking fast about raising the cash to possibly make a bid once this is done.

With many Kenyan companies having domiciled in Mauritius for tax reasons, this deal could even be made on the island long before it is announced in Kenya.

The Britam Tower will be one of the greenest buildings in the country with Wind turbines at the top providing power for parts of the building.


Listed-telco Safaricom has reportedly scrapped plans to introduce an MPESA card with top management said to have sharply differed on the merits of the proposed product.

The product was allegedy shelved quietly last month.

The card was to function like normal swipe cards but use the customer's MPESA account to process to pay for goods and services.

It had been said to be in the works for sometime now but allegedly faced strong opposition from one of the senior most C-level executives.

Matters were said to have been so heated that two top executives clashed at a meeting before the idea was finally dropped.

MPESA person to business transactions total over Sh17billion monthly with the MPESA cash till service for businesses, Lipa na MPESA growing by an astonishing 70 per cent annually thus presenting a compelling case for the MPESA Card idea.

However, this represents merely 12 per cent of the MPESA business with the bulk over Sh1.3trillion (US$1.3trn) being person to person transactions.

Those opposing it argued that it held little value proposition and was bad strategy.