Author: Antonio Guerrero

ZIMBABWE'S BANKS TOLD TO BOLSTER CAPITAL RESERVES


By Antonio Guerrero

With the goal of stabilizing the financial system in mind, Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank has boosted minimum capital requirements for banks by as much as 900%.


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Zimbabwe’s banks need more capital

Commercial and merchant banks will be required to have minimum capital of $100 million, up from $12.5 million and $10 million, respectively. Building societies must hold a minimum of $80 million, up from a previous level of $10 million, while finance and discount houses will have to hold $60 million, compared with the previous $7.5 million. Microfinance institutions will require minimum capital of $5 million, up from $1 million. Commercial banks must be fully compliant by June 2014 but must report 75% of new levels by the end of 2013. The Reserve Bank says there will be no deadline extensions.

The World Bank has granted a $200 million loan to support Nigeria's infrastructure development through public-private partnerships. Funds will be used as seed money to establish a financial intermediary loan scheme. Other development finance organizations are expected to contribute to the program. The loan scheme will extend credit through African financial intermediaries, particularly the Africa Finance Corporation. According to a report from the World Economic Forum, sub-Saharan Africa requires some $93 billion in annual infrastructure spending over the next decade. Investments are currently near $35 billion.

South Africa–based Liberty Holdings, Africa's third-largest life insurer by market value and which operates in 14 African countries, plans an ambitious expansion into West Africa. With Nigeria no longer issuing operating licenses, the company may seek to acquire an existing business there. It is also eyeing opportunities in Ghana. Although Liberty focuses on selling life insurance, executives are analyzing how consumer needs are changing. Liberty has increased its sales through intermediaries, including an alliance with South African mobile-phone operator Vodacom to provide insurance on mobile phones and other devices. Standard Bank is Liberty's majority shareholder.