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‘Leaving Kingdom wasn’t easy’

KINGDOM Bank founder Nigel Chanakira (NC) says a pending rights issue would have seen his shareholding in the then AfrAsia Kingdom Holdings Ltd being diluted and this led to his exit.

Zimbabwe Independent business editor Chris Muronzi (CM) spoke to him about the future.

Chanakira opens up exclusively for the first time since he sold his 33% stake in AfrAsia Kingdom Ltd. He says he has no plans to grow Kingdom Bank Botswana to match or exceed the commercial banking business that has been run under the local Kingdom Bank.

CM: Why did you sell your stake in a bank you founded?
NC: This clearly was not an easy decision for me, Chris. But there comes a time in one’s life when one must make the best business decision under the circumstances that one finds himself or herself in.

There is a pending rights offer to facilitate Kingdom Bank’s compliance with regulatory requirements and I simply was not keen to be diluted further in the group to become a minority shareholder.

I therefore accepted a negotiated offer from my former partners who have the capacity to inject capital and liquidity for the continued operation and growth of the bank. This option allows for the banking and financial services group to continue with greater strength and meet in full the capital and liquidity adequacy ratios.

Just for the record though, I have probably done about over 20 odd new ventures, mergers, acquisitions and sales of businesses over the past 20 years or so of my business career. The financial services group was however probably at the core of most of the deals that I have done.

However, I don’t believe that this is the last of my business transactions.

CM: Seeing that you still have a bank in Botswana, do you have a plan to grow Kingdom Botswana into a new and bigger financial services group like KFHL had become?
NC: Kingdom Bank Africa Limited (KBAL) is currently a much smaller outfit focused on private, offshore and investment banking. KBAL clearly has potential to scale up as a global franchise in its niche markets especially when juxtaposed with the opportunities in Southern Africa to do private equity deals.

This bank’s prospects are more suitable for me at this juncture as it is currently less resource-hungry. There are currently no plans to match or exceed the commercial banking business that has been run under Kingdom Bank.

CM: How do you feel about leaving the bank you founded? How tough was that for you?
NC: Well, I am bound to have emotional ties with Kingdom Bank, but I had left it before to pursue other interests and so these feelings are manageable especially if there are justifiable business reasons.

Under the circumstances, this was probably the best decision to allow the group to carry on without me and therefore it takes away the expected sentiments that would go with this decision.

Further, few people actually realise that over the years, I have developed other business interests outside and beyond Kingdom. I am therefore very proud to see the brand rise to yet another level.

CM: Where to now for you?
NC: I remain a more focused player in the banking space allowing me to participate more selectively in banking on the African plateau. The private equity space is likely to be where I will focus my financial skills in future years as opportunities there abound.

Beyond of that, I have a few private and family businesses that could do well with better management and my direct input. I am particularly excited about the work we are doing with Success Motivation Institute (Africa) and that should occupy a hefty chunk of my freed up time.

I would like to complete a couple of books too and maybe undertake doctorate studies which I have been mulling for a couple of years.

But it’s early days yet before I embark on achieving these goals.

CM: What other businesses are you involved in outside banking?
NC: As indicated, I facilitate motivational training and mentorship for leaders, managers and young adults covering about eight sub-Saharan African countries through Success Motivation Institute (Africa). We have a few property investments, a business consultancy and a private equity fund which is involved in a variety of businesses that include greenfield projects where we operate as angel investors.

CM: How much did you get in cash for the shares?
NC: Sadly, I cannot disclose this until after the AfrAsia Kingdom extraordinary general meeting which is due in a few weeks time.

CM: Do you think this was a good deal for you?
NC: I think it was fair under the circumstances or else I would not have signed it. I hope to do business with AfrAsia Bank in future and so I guess I did leave some value on the table.

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