Ecobank Group is making moves to develop its investment banking business in Nairobi after the bank was awarded an investment banking licence by the Capital Markets Authority in Kenya last month.
The office in Kenya will mark the group’s first permanent investment banking presence in east Africa. Ecobank Capital, the investment banking arm of the Ecobank Group, already has offices in Abidjan, Accra, Lagos and Douala.
Charles Kie, Ecobank
“Ecobank can’t afford not to be in Kenya, as it is one of the leading economies in the east African region,” says Charles Kie, group executive for corporate and investment banking for Ecobank.
“We have entered at a time which is right for us. It wasn’t a matter of getting into the country as quickly as possible, it was a matter of following our customers into the region and planning our strategy there for the long term.”
He adds: “At first, our investment banking branch in Kenya will be used to serve the wider east African region and the member states of the Southern African Development Community. We may look into opening other branches in east Africa in the region as we continue to respond to the needs of government, corporates and our customers.”
Ecobank plans to be a full-service investment bank focusing on equity capital markets including M&A, debt capital markets, trade finance, project finance and corporate advisory targeting east Africa’s growing oil and gas sector and infrastructure deficit.
“Currently, our strengths lie in debt capital markets, syndications and loans, but we are making steps to develop our M&A and advisory services as well,” says Kie.
“At the moment, we see that the equity capital markets are not as developed in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) as the debt capital markets are, so this is where our focus currently lies. As equity markets get deeper, we will deliver services accordingly.”
Over the years, Ecobank has worked on numerous debt transactions in SSA. In 2012, the bank raised a $202 million syndicated credit facility on behalf of African mobile infrastructure provider IHS. In March 2013, Ecobank worked on the financing for the Société Ivoirienne de Raffinage petroleum refinery project at $360 million and the $500 million financing for the pre-export financing facility of Orion Oil.
“We have worked on a number of regional and international issues which have varied in size,” says Kie. “Only recently have these sizes started to increase. We are now beginning to see deals over $500 million coming out of sub-Saharan Africa and as the economy continues to grow, the size of these deals will inevitably increase.”