By Mark DeWeaver.
So far this has been a bad year for shareholders of Dar Es Salaam Bank (BDSI). Adjusting for July’s 23.2% rights and 18.5% bonus issues, the shares are down 36% year-to-date (as of September 10). This compares to a ytd return of -5% for the ISX index and +6% for Rabee Securities RSISX index.
This dismal performance is mainly due to the decision of majority shareholder HSBC to exit its position. The British bank announced in June that it was looking for a buyer for its 70.1% (pre-rights issue) stake and that it would not be subscribing to BDSI’s rights issue. (See this story.) Indeed, getting rid of BDSI now seems to be quite high on the HSBC “to do” list. At one point it even offered to give away its stake for nothing! (This offer was blocked by the Iraqi regulators, however.)
Without HSBC as a shareholder, BDSI could conceivably lose a sizable share of its current business. But this does not necessarily mean that earnings growth will suffer. There is likely to be considerable room for the bank to expand into new areas.
Lending is the most obvious example. As of the end of June, BDSI’s loan/deposit ratio was a mere 2%, the second lowest among the listed banks. The average for the sector is 40%. HSBC’s approach to risk management in Iraq has clearly been unduly cautious. With a new majority shareholder, BDSI may be in a position to grow its loan book considerably, thereby replacing lost fee and commission revenue with interest income.
It is also encouraging that the bank recently increased its capital from IQD 105.8 to IQD 150 billion. Following HSBC’s decision not to take up its rights, its rights shares were offered to the public and were reportedly oversubscribed. The biggest subscriber is said to have been one of the local investors in last February’s Asiacell IPO.
This vote of confidence had an immediate effect on the share price. Since closing at a multi-year low of IQD 1.07 on August 28, the last day of the subscription period, as of September 10 BDSI is up 26%.
Life without HSBC might not be so bad after all.