Zimbabwe's Econet Heads The List
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Zimbabwe’s Econet Heads The List

Zimbabwe’s Econet Heads The List

Twenty-five companies have been ranked in this year’s table of the Top 250 African Companies that were not ranked last year. Some have been included in previous years, while others have achieved sufficient growth to move up a few places to secure a position. A handful are being ranked for the first time.

Unlike in the past, no new entrants have made it into the top 100 and no companies with a value of more than $1bn enter the table this year, in contrast with 10 last year. The new entrants come from all parts of the continent, although just four are based in North Africa.

The highest ranked new entrant is Econet Wireless Zimbabwe with a market value of $677m. The company, which is the biggest mobile operator in the country by number of subscribers, announced in March that it now had more than 1m users of its EcoCash mobile banking service. It intends to expand its financial operations and aims to purchase a 49% stake in TN Bank, which is also involved in the EcoCash project, for $20m. It has already taken over internet service provider ZOL.

South African transport firm Super Group is the second-highest ranked of the new entrants, with a market capitalisation of $476m. Income for the second half of 2011 increased by 23% to R4.6bn ($560m), while the company’s operating profit rose 36% to R405m ($52.8m) for the same period. Chief executive Peter Mountford said that the results were mainly due to the “satisfactory performance” of the South African supply chain business “and the strong improvement in operating margins reflected by African logistics”.

As in the higher reaches of the table, beer and other drinks companies such as Nigerian Bottling Company, Namibian Breweries and Tanzania Breweries feature among the new entrants. Namibian Breweries has announced that it is benefiting from lower malted barley prices and its expansion into other markets. Much of the company’s output is now exported to South Africa and Botswana, despite the introduction of a 40% alcohol tax by the government of Botswana.

Zambia’s Chilanga Cement also enters our table in 215th position. It was the first company to be listed on the Lusaka Stock Exchange in 1995, after a complicated history in which it has twice been privatised and twice state owned.

Its two factories, in Chilanga and Ndola, serve the country’s copper industry and also export cement to Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. However, the firm faces growing competition, including from Nigeria’s Dangote Cement, which is developing its own cement plant in Zambia.

Tanzania Portland Cement Company, which ranks as the 239th biggest company in Africa, is one of Tanzania’s business success stories. It is majority owned by German firm Heidelberg Cement and its plant near Dar es Salaam already supplies 40% of domestic requirements, while investment of $100m should increase production capacity to 1.2m tonnes a year. The chairman of Heidelberg Cement, Bernd Scheifele, commented: “This investment is another important step in our strategy to further expand in growth countries.”

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Written by African Business Magazine

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