Announcements

GCR affirms Ecobank Zimbabwe Limited’s rating of BBB-(ZW); Outlook Stable.

Johannesburg, 31 August 2017 — Global Credit Ratings (“GCR”) has affirmed Ecobank Zimbabwe Limited’s long-term and short-term national scale ratings of BBB-(ZW) and A3(ZW) respectively; with the outlook accorded as Stable.

SUMMARY RATINGS RATIONALE

The ratings of Ecobank Zimbabwe Limited (“Ecobank”, “the bank”) reflect improvements in liquidity, asset quality, and profitability during FY16. The ratings also reflect the bank’s strong brand and adequate capitalisation, but are constrained by the bank’s insignificant market position, and a challenging operating environment characterised by foreign currency shortages and heightened default risk, which could exert downward pressure on asset quality.

Furthermore, Ecobank’s ratings continue to be supported by strong financial and technical support provided by its parent company, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (“ETI”, “the group”), and synergistic benefits attained from group affiliates. There is a possibility for the ownership structure of the group to change slightly over the short-term, resulting in ETI owning 100% (FY16: 99.7%) of the bank’s shares, pending regulatory approval; however, this is viewed to be immaterial.

The bank’s core capital grew by 17.3% to USD52.1m at FY16 (FY15: USD44.4m) driven by organic growth, remaining above the current prescribed minimum requirement of USD25m. Following lower growth in risk weighted assets (4%), the bank’s risk weighted capital adequacy ratio (“RWCAR”) and Tier 1 ratio increased to 28.0% and 25.4% at FY16 from 24.3% and 22.4% at FY15 respectively, remaining well above the regulatory minima.

After significant write-offs of USD1.7m, recoveries (USD5.5m), and disposal of non-performing loans (“NPLs”) to Zimbabwe Asset Management Company (“ZAMCO ”) of USD10.08m, NPLs decreased by 95.2% resulting in a decline in the gross NPL ratio to 0.5% at FY16 from 8.2% at FY15. Consequently, specific provision coverage of NPLs increased to 30.8% (FY15: 4.1%). Management is targeting a long-term NPL ratio of below 3% versus the RBZ directive of 5%. Special mention (or past due but not impaired) loans accounted for a lower 1.1% (FY15: 6.9%) of total loans at FY16 but increased to 40.7% at 1H FY17. The bank’s asset quality remains vulnerable given the challenging operating environment facing corporates and consumers.

Despite an increase in operating expenditure (driven by staff and ICT costs), net profit before tax (“NPBT”) grew by 82% to a five year high of USD12.4m in FY16, supported by increases in net interest income (supported by government security holdings) and non-interest income (mainly service charges, prompted by a more extensive network of ATMs and merchant POS devices, which stimulated higher transaction volumes). The bank’s ROaA and ROaE increased to 3.1% and 18.8% in FY16 (FY15: 2.6% and 11.5%) respectively.

Total liability funding grew by 82.4% to USD329.5m at FY16 (FY15: 62.7%), supported by customer deposits growth of 78.7%. Customer deposits are mainly demand deposits from large corporates and, therefore, remain susceptible to external shocks. In addition to high depositor concentrations, like most Zimbabwean banks, in FY16, Ecobank had significant short-term maturity mismatches in its asset/liability profile (in particular in the critical 0-30 days’ maturity), however, to manage liquidity risk, the bank holds high levels of liquidity supported by a liquidity ratio well above the regulatory minimum of 30%.

The ratings could be positively impacted by the appropriate deployment of capital/funding, a sustained positive earnings and asset quality trend, and strengthening of the bank’s position in the market. A weakened shareholder support floor, increased government exposure, deterioration in credit quality, long-term earnings and/or capitalisation, and adverse regulatory developments could negatively affect the ratings.

NATIONAL SCALE RATINGS HISTORY    
     
Initial rating (July 2005)   Last rating (August 2016)
Long term: BB+(ZW); Short term: A3(ZW)   Long term: BBB-(ZW); Short term: A3(ZW)
Outlook: Positive   Outlook: Stable
     

ANALYTICAL CONTACTS

Primary Analyst    
Vimbai Muhwati    
Credit Analyst    
(011) 784-1771    
vimbaim@globalratings.net    
     
Committee Chairperson    
Jennifer Mwerenga    
Senior Credit Analyst    
(011) 784-1771    
jennifer@globalratings.net    

APPLICABLE METHODOLOGIES AND RELATED RESEARCH

Global Criteria for Rating Banks and Other Financial Institutions (March 2017)

Ecobank rating reports (2005-16)

RATING LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS

ALL GCR’S CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: HTTP://GLOBALRATINGS.NET/UNDERSTANDING-RATINGS. IN ADDITION, GCR’S RATING SCALES AND DEFINITIONS ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD AT THE FOLLOWING LINK: HTTP://GLOBALRATINGS.NET/RATINGS-INFO. GCR’S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, PUBLICATION TERMS AND CONDITIONS AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE AT HTTP://GLOBALRATINGS.NET.

SALIENT FEATURES OF ACCORDED RATINGS

GCR affirms that a.) no part of the rating was influenced by any other business activities of the credit rating agency; b.) the rating was based solely on the merits of the rated entity, security or financial instrument being rated; and c.) such rating was an independent evaluation of the risks and merits of the rated entity, security or financial instrument.

Ecobank Zimbabwe Limited participated in the rating process via face-to-face management meetings and other written correspondence. Furthermore, the quality of information received was considered adequate and has been independently verified where possible.

The credit ratings have been disclosed to Ecobank Zimbabwe Limited with no contestation of the ratings.

Information received from Ecobank Zimbabwe Limited and other reliable third parties to accord the credit ratings included:

  • Audited financial results as at 31 December 2016 (and four years of comparative numbers)
  • Reviewed financial results as at 30 June 2017
  • Budgeted financial statements for 2017
  • Latest internal and/or external audit report to management
  • A breakdown of facilities available and related counterparties
  • Corporate governance and enterprise risk framework
  • Industry comparative data

The ratings above were solicited by, or on behalf of Ecobank Zimbabwe Limited, and therefore, GCR has been compensated for the provision of the ratings.

GLOSSARY OF TERMS/ACRONYMS USED IN THIS DOCUMENT AS PER GCR’S FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS GLOSSARY

Arrears An overdue debt, liability or obligation. An account is said to be ‘in arrears’ if one or more payments have been missed in transactions where regular payments are contractually required.
Asset A resource with economic value that a company owns or controls with the expectation that it will provide future benefit.
Asset Quality Refers primarily to the credit quality of a bank’s earning assets, the bulk of which comprises its loan portfolio, but will also include its investment portfolio as well as off balance sheet items. Quality in this context means the degree to which the loans that the bank has extended are performing (ie, being paid back in accordance with their terms) and the likelihood that they will continue to perform.
Audit Report A written opinion of an auditor (attesting to the financial statements’ fairness and compliance with generally accepted accounting principles).
Budget Financial plan that serves as an estimate of future cost, revenues or both.
Capital The sum of money that is invested to generate proceeds.
Capital Adequacy A measure of the adequacy of an entity’s capital resources in relation to its current liabilities and also in relation to the risks associated with its assets. An appropriate level of capital adequacy ensures that the entity has sufficient capital to support its activities and that its net worth is sufficient to absorb adverse changes in the value of its assets without becoming insolvent.
Cash Funds that can be readily spent or used to meet current obligations.
Collateral Asset provided to a creditor as security for a loan.
Corporate Governance Refers to the mechanisms, processes and relations by which corporations are controlled and directed, and is used to ensure the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of an entity to its stakeholders.
Credit Rating Agency An entity that provides credit rating services.
Customer Deposit Cash received in exchange for a service, including safekeeping, savings, investment, etc. Customer deposits are a liability in a bank’s books.
Financial Institution An entity that focuses on dealing with financial transactions, such as investments, loans and deposits.
Financial Statements Presentation of financial data including balance sheets, income statements and statements of cash flow, or any supporting statement that is intended to communicate an entity’s financial position at a point in time.
Impairment Reduction in the value of an asset because the asset is no longer expected to generate the same benefits, as determined by the company through periodic assessments.
Interest Scheduled payments made to a creditor in return for the use of borrowed money. The size of the payments will be determined by the interest rate, the amount borrowed or principal and the duration of the loan.
International Scale Rating LC International local currency (International LC) ratings measure the likelihood of repayment in the currency of the jurisdiction in which the issuer is domiciled. Therefore, the rating does not take into account the possibility that it will not be able to convert local currency into foreign currency or make transfers between sovereign jurisdictions.
Liquidity The speed at which assets can be converted to cash. It can also refer to the ability of a company to service its debt obligations due to the presence of liquid assets such as cash and its equivalents. Market liquidity refers to the ease with which a security can be bought or sold quickly and in large volumes without substantially affecting the market price. 
Liquidity Risk The risk that a company may not be able to meet its financial obligations or other operational cash requirements due to an inability to timeously realise cash from its assets. Regarding securities, the risk that a financial instrument cannot be traded at its market price due to the size, structure or efficiency of the market.
Long-Term Not current; ordinarily more than one year.
Long-Term Rating Reflects an issuer’s ability to meet its financial obligations over the following three to five year period, including interest payments and debt redemptions. This encompasses an evaluation of the organisation’s current financial position, as well as how the position may change in the future with regard to meeting longer term financial obligations.
National Scale Rating Provides a relative measure of creditworthiness for rated entities only within the country concerned. Under this rating scale, a ‘AAA’ long term national scale rating will typically be assigned to the lowest relative risk within that country, which in most cases will be the sovereign state.
Net Profit Trading/operating profits after deducting the expenses detailed in the profit and loss account (including taxes).
Performing Loan A loan is said to be performing if the borrower is paying the interest on it on a timely basis.
Portfolio A collection of investments held by an individual investor or financial institution. They may include stocks, bonds, futures contracts, options, real estate investments or any item that the holder believes will retain its value.
Provision The amount set aside or deducted from operating income to cover expected or identified loan losses.
Regulatory Capital The total of primary, secondary and tertiary capital.
Risk The chance of future uncertainty (i.e. deviation from expected earnings or an expected outcome) that will have an impact on objectives.
Risk Management Process of identifying and monitoring business risks in a manner that offers a risk/return relationship that is acceptable to an entity’s operating philosophy.
Security An asset deposited or pledged as a guarantee of the fulfilment of an undertaking or the repayment of a loan, to be forfeited in case of default.
Shareholder An individual, entity or financial institution that holds shares or stock in an organisation or company.
Short-Term Current; ordinarily less than one year.
Short-Term Rating An opinion of an issuer’s ability to meet all financial obligations over the upcoming 12 month period, including interest payments and debt redemptions.

For a full glossary of terms please click here

GCR affirms Ecobank Zimbabwe Limited’s rating of BBB-(ZW); Outlook Stable.

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