Interest rate caps erode bank valuations in buyouts

The capping of interest rates has hurt bank deals, with more lenders now being acquired at prices lower than their book value to reflect relatively weaker earnings outlook.

Habib Bank, which is set to be fully acquired by DTB Bank, is the latest lender to be taken over at a price equivalent to 0.77 times its net worth.

Mauritius’ SBM Holdings in November announced it had started the process of acquiring Fidelity Commercial Bank (FCB) for Sh100, one of the lowest buyout prices that indicate a distressed sale.

Share prices of most listed banks have also dropped by more than 30 per cent in a year due to the rate caps and the general bear run, with some of the publicly traded lenders including NIC Bank, HF Group and DTB trading below their net asset values.

“Banks are undervalued across the board. This is because of the sentiment brought by rate caps and the bear market,” said Alkarim Jiwa, the chief financial officer at DTB.

The current valuations mark a sharp reversal from previous years when acquirers were ready to pay up to two times book value or higher in private transactions and in the stock market.

Nigeria’s Guaranty Trust Bank in 2013, for instance, paid Sh8.6 billion to buy a 70 per cent stake in Fina Bank. This was a 90 per cent premium on the shares that had a book value of Sh4.5 billion as of December 2013.

In the new environment, DTB is set to acquire Habib for Sh1.8 billion, a discount of 23 percent based on the small lender’s book value of Sh2.3 billion as of September 2016.

DTB will use its own shares to compensate owners of Habib who will be allotted a 4.75 percent stake at a price of Sh137.39 per share, representing a 26 percent premium on the stock’s mid-day trading price of Sh109 yesterday.

This will add to Habib investors’ existing 11.97 per cent interest in DTB. Mr. Jiwa said the transaction is a win-win for both parties, with the merged entity raising its market share.

Credit: Business Daily

Published on 23 March 2017 | 8:49 am at Source