Ecobank share offering a success in Rwanda, set to increase loans to SMEs

Ecobank’s $2.5 billion (Frw1.37 trillion) public offering which was launched in Rwanda on September 9, 2008 has been considered a success by management.

Ecobank’s $2.5 billion (Frw1.37 trillion) public offering which was launched in Rwanda on September 9, 2008 has been considered a success by management.

Daniel Sackey, Managing Director Ecobank Rwanda, said that, “Even though receipts from the country were below expectation, it has been a success in terms of creating awareness on investment shares.”

Ecobank Rwanda is managing the share offer in the Rwandan market on behalf of its parent company, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated.

The offer which opened on August 25 and expected to close on October 3, 2008 has been extended to October 31 to allow more investors to participate, the company said.

By press time management was still collecting application forms from its branches all over the country and Business Times had not yet established the total amount from Rwandan investors.

Sackey however said that they faced challenges of limited time and low awareness about investments in general on the local market.

The global financial crisis is said to have lowered investor confidence with some investors finding it uneasy to commit their money in shares.

While investors are still not sure of the full impact of the global financial crisis, management believes that this will adversely affect receipts from the Ecobank share offering. 

However Sackey countered that the uncertainty created by the global financial crisis also presented an opportunity for potential investors and other market players to raise relevant issues and questions on the offer in particular and investment in general.

The bank therefore capitalized on this to provide appropriate responses and this has contributed an improvement in awareness and restoring investor confidence to a large extent.

Sackey said that, “The world is now a global village and information is rapidly transmitted to all markets. 

Sentiments are very high and people have different reactions to information. Positively it has helped us to convey vital information and clarifications to investors.”

Sackey added that though the financial crisis is concentrated in the developed markets Ecobank’s business is spread across 25 countries in Africa.

To him, this provides a strong diversification of the Group’s revenue streams.

“It reduces the vulnerability of returns on any investment in Ecobank shares to events in anyone country, investors are therefore encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to diversify their investments and earnings,” Sackey said.

Ecobank Transnational International is listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange, Nigerian Stock Exchange and the West African Francophone Countries-African bourse in Abidjan.

Meanwhile, Ecobank Group and the International Finance Cooperation recently signed a $213 million deal which will see the latter finance its expansion plans and increase financing to small and medium (SMEs) enterprises.

Of the total amount, $100 million will be made available via a convertible loan to support the bank’s regional expansion.
With over 500 branches operations spread in Africa, the convertible loan will also help fund its expansion to open more branches in Africa. 

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) will also work with Ecobank to increase financing for critical sectors including agribusiness, education, health, housing and infrastructure.

According to the press release, signed by both Ecobank and IFC, the deal also involved the extension of a $25 million loan and advisory services to Ecobank Nigeria.

The loan will promote lending to smaller businesses and up to $88 million in guarantees against the underlying trade transactions of several Ecobank subsidiaries - including those in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo.

In the statement, Arnold Ekpe, Ecobank’s Chief Executive Officer said that working with IFC will enable the bank reach more regions and contribute more directly to economic development.

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