By Omoh Gabriel
AFRICA Finance Corporation (AFC) said its 2015 fiscal year results despite a difficult operating environment, delivered strong underlying operating results. It said it achieved 25 per cent growth in its balance sheet, with total assets in excess of $3.2 billion. Its net interest income increased by 39 per cent to $108.4 million with net interest margins growing to 4.4 per cent, a 7 per cent improvement over the prior year, as the Corporation continues to lower its borrowing costs. Fees, commissions and other income however declined by 85 per cent largely due to one-off revenues of $46 million recorded in 2014.
In April 2015, as part of its efforts to diversify its funding base, the Corporation successfully issued its maiden euro-bond of $750 million as part of its established $3 billion Eurobond Global Medium Term Notes (“GMTN”) Programme.
It said that the reception of the bond was strong, and it was six times over-subscribed, positioning AFC in the capital markets as a strong African credit. It said that as a result of the challenging 2015 economic environment there was the need to maintain a tight rein on costs. Management had strong oversight on operating costs resulting in a 22 per cent year-on-year decline to $30 million delivering a cost to income ratio of 22 per cent, down from 26 per cent recorded in 2014. Although no risk asset was impaired during the year under review, the Corporation’s first portfolio impairment charge of $26.7 million was recorded, in light of increased default risks, particularly in the Corporation’s oil and gas risk asset portfolio. Overall, the Corporation remains strongly capitalized, with a capital adequacy of 50 per cent. AFC is also very liquid, with approximately $1 billion liquidity as at December 2015, positioning the Corporation to take advantage of investment opportunities in 2016.
The Corporation recorded total comprehensive income of $70.3 million for the year, representing a decline of 38 per cent compared to 2014. However total comprehensive income, after the adjustments for the exceptional fees accrued in 2014 represents a growth of 3%, even after taking into consideration the Corporation’s first portfolio impairment charge. 2015 it said was characterised by a decline in commodity prices, in particular oil, minerals and soft commodities.
Oil prices remained under pressure owing to a supply glut, a situation which saw prices plummet by approximately 50 per cent during the year. In addition China’s demand for raw material imports decreased as the country’s economy rebalanced away from manufacturing to services.
The decline in Chinese and broader emerging market demand and tepid economic expansion in Europe and the USA has negatively impacted African economies and their foreign exchange reserves, resulting in currency deterioration across major African markets. This, along with a rise in interest rates in the USA has led to currency devaluations in many African countries, tighter credit markets and a slowdown in international investment on the continent.
Andrew Alli, President & CEO of Africa Finance Corporation said: “We are pleased to report that despite the economic headwinds we have seen our total assets grow by 25 per cent. Support for the AFC and its mandate as an investor in crucial infrastructure across Africa has also been met with the launch of our US$750 million Eurobond, which was six times oversubscribed.
“As global economic uncertainty persists, the AFC is well placed to continue to deliver returns to shareholders and new infrastructure that will bolster economic growth and have real social impact across Africa.” AFC’s mission is to address Africa’s pressing infrastructure needs and build the foundations for robust economic development across the continent, while seeking a competitive return on investment for its shareholders. The Corporation has invested US$3.2 billion in projects across 22 African countries and in its core sectors including power, telecommunications, transport and logistics, natural resources and heavy industries.