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Wobbly firms find shelter in insolvency law

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Shoppers at a Nakumatt branch
Shoppers at a Nakumatt branch. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

More companies sought protection from the Insolvency Act 2015 this year as their operations crumbled amid a large debt pile-up, staving off liquidation that was previously triggered by default.

The firms that went into voluntary or forced administration are supermarket chain Nakumatt Holdings, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) dealer Midland Energy, ARM Cement and fashion retailer Deacons East Africa.

They join early adopters of the insolvency law like construction firm Spencon Kenya Limited, which was placed under administration in 2017.

Administration is meant to maintain a company as a going concern besides ensuring better recovery for creditors as a whole than would likely be the case if the firm were liquidated without first going through administration.

The law empowers administrators to take various measures to rescue a company, with liquidation being the last resort. If a distressed company is sold or part of its assets liquidated, administrators will first distribute the proceeds to secured or preferential creditors.

The benefit of the law to unsecured creditors, in particular, was seen in the Nakumatt case where several suppliers applied to the courts to have the company placed under administration.

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The suppliers, including Sunmatt Limited, feared that a liquidation of the retailer will leave them with a total loss since their claims are unsecured.

Sunmatt, for instance, is claiming some Sh335.9 million, followed by Primrose Management Limited (Sh142.4 million) and Compulynx Limited (Sh31.8 million).

“The applicants have expressed the view that if the company (Nakumatt) were to be liquidated, the creditors who were unsecured, would suffer a total loss,” reads part of the application to place the retailer under administration.

“On the other hand, the applicants believe that if the court were to grant an order for the administration of the company, that would give rise to the possibility that the company would be revived, thus giving hope to the creditors.”

Justice Fred Ochieng on January 22, 2018 agreed with the applicants and ordered that Mr Peter Kahi be appointed as the retailer’s administrator.

Nakumatt had accumulated debt of Sh40 billion while its total assets stood at Sh9.1 billion, indicating that its liquidation would have left suppliers and other creditors with a loss of Sh30.9 billion.

The retailer, which lost most of its stores in Kenya and the neighbouring countries, recently reopened its branch along Uhuru Highway. It now has seven stores.

Midland was the latest to be placed under administration in November after it became insolvent, with consultancy firm Ernst & Young (EY) now running the company on behalf of its creditors.

Deacons also went into voluntary administration of PKF Consulting in November after it was unable to pay its debt to suppliers and banks.

ARM’s creditors placed it under the administration of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in August.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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