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Corporate finance is still a golden fleece, although things were better two years ago.

The market for corporate finance and investment banking services in Morocco is relatively young. It started off in the mid-1990s, to accompany privatizations and initial public offerings on the Casablanca Stock Exchange.

Things have evolved since, and the past decade has seen a good degree of maturing, as services become more professional. A number of renown financial institutions, including Upline Group (part of Banque Centrale Populaire or BCP), have accumulated a wealth of experience via two decades of rich offerings.

Within corporate finance, the Moroccan scene has been most active for the following:
• Capital markets: here the twin drivers are activities on the stock market and the private debt market. For the former, the usual suspects have been IPOs, secondary market share issues, and other share-related transactions. For the latter, the market has seen the issuance of company bonds and other financing instruments
• Strategic operations: these include privatizations, public-private partnerships, mergers and acquisit-ions, private placements, joint ventures, etc.
Fund raising: from both private and institutional investors, as well as traditional debt from banks
• Financial engineering: for mega-projects, this has included cost-benefit analysis and finance structuring, as well as financial advisory and company valuation services.

In retrospect, 2011 was characterized by an unstable regional geopolitical environment, and illiquid stock and bond markets. This made fundraising operations difficult. Nonetheless last year witnessed some sizeable operations worth mentioning:
• beginning of SNI asset disposal, namely via the sale of part of food processor Lesieur-Cristal to Sofiprotéol and Moroccan institutional investors
• three IPOs (Stroc Industry, Jet Alu and S2M) • capital increases (BCP and Label’Vie)
• massive bond and negotiable debt security issues.

The sluggish regional and international context will continue to influence market conditions in 2012. We should see a year of further consolidation and tightening liquidity.

Yet this will not prevent several important corporations from raising funds for ongoing growth. For some, it will mean opening their capital to institutional investors and investment funds. For others, it will imply access to capital markets via bonds and negotiable debt securities. Lastly, some players might restructure their debt, namely overleveraged actors. Moreover, SNI will continue divesting its non-strategic assets. The Moroccan government might add extra boost to the market if it revives its privatization process, or issues tenders for expert financial support and advice.

Shall we do a deal in Morocco?

Upline Group, part of BCP bank since 2008, boasts of two decades of experience in various financial services. Here is how we can help your financial needs in Morocco. 1. Brokerage. Through personal advice and an electronic trading platform, full access to Moroccan financial exchanges. Regular research and analysis notes to guide you. 2. Asset management. About MAD 20 billion under management. Winner of the coveted “Alistotmar Chaabi Treasury” award. Sole Moroccan manager of a French fund. 3. Private equity. The leading partner in private equity ventures. MAD 7.5 billion at the end of 2011. Diverse risk/return portfolio offers access to varied PE funds, including infrastructure, tourism, real estate and others. 4. Corporate finance. Through a team of 15 investment bankers, we offer the gamut of investment banking services: debt and equity instruments, M&A, as well as privatizations. 5. Insurance brokerage. Our branch Chaabi Courtage offers life and non-life insurance. Our clients include Maroc Telecom, Vivendi, OCP, Label’Vie, Axa, Autoroutes Maroc, ONCF, etc. Further information on www.upline.co.ma