The Kenyan government is to sell by year end, part of its majority shares at the country’s leading mobile-phone company, Safaricom, which Wednesday announced profit before tax of 17.2 billion Shillings (about US$260 million).
Finance Minister Amos Kimunya said the firm would be sold through the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) and could also be listed in more than one bourse in the East Africa region.
“We are looking for the widest possible reach. We are looking at raising about 35 billion Shillings (about US$500 million), because looking at the profits, …the company is well-managed,” he told a press conference.
The government controls 60% stakes in Safaricom, through State-run Telkom Kenya, while the British Vodafone, owns the remaining 40%.
Officials said government plans to sale 25% of its shares for US$500 million.
“We are looking at the best way of broadening the ownership of Safaricom. The 25% sale would broaden the ownership. This is a way of sharing the investment with other Kenyans,” Kimunya said.
Safaricom’s 17.2 billion shillings profit before tax is considered the largest in the entire East Africa region, although its liabilities are higher than its asset base.
“The position as of 31 March shows that the liabilities are higher than the assets. This is due to the amounts owed to suppliers for equipment we used for network expansion. Most of the suppliers have been paid,” said Les Baille, Safaricom’s chief finance officer.
The firm’s asset base stood at 10 billion Shillings against 13 billion Shillings in liabilities.