Kenya

Creditors of Kenya’s Nakumatt supermarket chain, once East Africa’s biggest retailer, voted on Tuesday to wind it up after it was unable to pay debts following a failed rescue attempt, Reuters reported. Nakumatt expanded from a mattress shop in a rural town to a network of more than 60 branches before a cash crunch forced it to shut more than a dozen outlets in 2017 when it was unable to pay suppliers, landlords and other creditors.

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Kenya plans to refinance or substitute commercial loans with cheaper options from friendly nations or development financiers, its acting finance minister said on Monday. The East African nation wants to avoid raising more debt from overseas capital markets, after a borrowing binge in recent years including Eurobond offerings, a package of Chinese loans and syndicated commercial loans, Reuters reported. The government was committed to bringing its debt, which has risen to above 62% of gross domestic product, to a more sustainable level, said minister Ukur Yatani.

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KCB Group Plc is pursuing defaulters as Kenya’s biggest lender combines recently purchased National Bank of Kenya Ltd. into its operations, Bloomberg News reported. “You’ll see more actions, more demand letters going after our customers” who aren’t repaying loans, KCB Chief Executive Officer Joshua Oigara said on the sidelines of a conference in Nairobi last week. “Next year is the real recovery period for the loans we have for NBK.” The acquisition of state-owned NBK, which has 49% of its loans classified as non-performing, will almost double KCB’s ratio of bad debts to 12%.

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Kenya’s loss-making Mumias Sugar Company has been placed under receivership to protect its assets and maintain its operations, local lender KCB Group said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. “The Bank has appointed Mr. PVR Rao (Tact Consultancy Services) as the sugar company’s receiver manager,” KCB said in a statement, giving no more details. Mumias, which used to be the East African nation’s leading producer at more than 250,000 tonnes a year, has been beset by poor management and mounting losses in recent years.

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Kenya Airways must avoid picking a board packed with politically-connected individuals after it is renationalized in order to ensure future success, its chairman said on Tuesday. The loss-making airline, which is 48.9% government-owned and 7.8% held by Air France-KLM, was privatized 23 years ago but sank into debt and losses in 2014, Reuters reported. Lawmakers voted to re-nationalize it in July. Chairman Michael Joseph said the requirement for professionals to be put in charge of the airline is being built into draft laws that will guide the renationalization.

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Kenya will take at least 21 months to take back full control of its national carrier Kenya Airways, buying out minority shareholders and converting shares held by banks into Treasury bonds, a lawmaker briefed on the transaction said. The loss-making airline, which is 48.9% government-owned and 7.8% held by Air France-KLM, was privatised 23 years ago but sank into debt and losses in 2014, Reuters reported. Lawmakers voted to re-nationalise it this week.

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Kenya’s parliament voted on Tuesday to nationalise the country’s main airline Kenya Airways to save it from mounting debts, Reuters reported. The loss-making airline, which is 48.9% government-owned and 7.8% held by Air France-KLM, has been struggling to return to profitability and growth. A failed expansion drive and a slump in air travel forced it to restructure $2 billion of debt in 2017. The airline later proposed taking over the running of Nairobi’s main airport to boost its revenue.

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Kenya’s East African Cables and its parent firm TransCentury Ltd have completed a debt restructuring deal that has reduced the group’s debt by almost half, they said on Monday, Reuters reported. TransCentury, which was founded by a group of Kenyan investors in 1997, invested in a range of infrastructure companies, including East African Cables but has struggled with a heavy debt burden, losses and a plunge in its share price.

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A Kenyan parliamentary committee on Tuesday recommended nationalising Kenya Airways as part of an effort to turn around the loss-making airline, Reuters reported. The transport, public works and housing committee also proposed setting up of an aviation holding company with four subsidiaries, one of which would run Kenya Airways, which is 48.9% owned by the state and 7.8% by Air France-KLM. Under the proposals, which still need to be debated and voted on by parliament, another arm of the holding company would operate Nairobi’s main international airport.

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Kenya will more than double its capital gains tax rate to 12.5% from 5% to bring it in line with international standards, Finance Minister Henry Rotich said in budget proposals to parliament on Thursday, Reuters reported. Analysts said the move showed the government had opted to squeeze already hard-pressed taxpayers, rather than cut expenditure, to make ends meet. “They are basically trying to get more and more out of a small tax base,” said Kenneth Minjire, head of securities at Nairobi-based Genghis Capital.

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