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Nairobi bourse drops British firms from index lineup

Three British multinationals and their subsidiaries have been dropped from the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) list of most profitable firms for failing to meet trading benchmarks, the bourse chairman, Jimnah Mbaru, announced here Friday.

In a new review of the NSE 20-Share Index, which includes most profitable companies trading at the bourse, Unilever Tea, a Kenyan subsidiary of the British multinational Unilever, was replaced by a Kenyan sugar milling firm, Mumias Sugar Company.

Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KENGEN), which was listed in March 2006, replaced the British Oxygen Company (BOC) Gases in the energy sector while Rea- Vipingo, one of the largest tea plantation firms, edged out Kakuzi, its competitor.

Rea-Vipingo is an agricultural firm which owns large tracks of land in the East African country’s tea growing areas.

It replaces Kakuzi, whose counter at the NSE has remained dormant due to what the NSE Chief attributed to the hoarding of shares by investors.

Another subsidiary of British firm, Williamson Tea, which grows tea for export, was also replaced from the alternative market segment of the NSE with Express Limited, a logistics firm.

The review of the NSE-20-share index was done to bring on board newly listed firms with active trading track-records and give the market a better image, which reflects the true value of the bourse as opposed to retaining less active stocks in the Index.

The 20-Share Index is a reflection of the 20 most active trading counters.

The review would see the NSE market capitalization increase substantially with the entry of the profitable firms from the country’s fastest growing economic sectors.

“We have decided to review the 20-share Index. The companies needed to meet certain criteria, among them to have at least 20% of the shares regularly available for trade,” Mbaru told a news conference at the NSE offices.

“We have replaced smaller companies with bigger companies. The more active companies would be a better market barometer,” he added.

Mbaru explained that the key parameters for the index selection criteria also included a requirement that the company must be quoted for at least one year and have a market capitalization of 50 million Shillings.

The NSE chief noted that the shareholding in some of the companies replaced from the Index – which reflects the wealth accumulated by the main investors – was held by institutional investors, who hoarded the shares.

Institutional investors mostly include foreign fund managers, equity partners and insurance companies, which buy the shares and sell at gross profits.

Mbaru said the inclusion of the Kenyan companies in the industrial segment of the main investment section of the NSE was to emphasize the need for investments in the country’s industrial sector.

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