Safaricom IPO on again as legal challenge dismissed

5 Oct 2007

A judge in Kenya has dismissed an attempt to block the government’s planned sale of a 25% share in cellco Safaricom. The suit lodged in Nairobi’s High Court said the government had ‘refused to give a full disclosure of the ownership of Safaricom and the sums received or not received in various transactions constituting its current shareholding’. Justice Nyamu argued that the government had not done anything illegal that would warrant cancellation of the initial public offer (IPO). He noted that although the government was ‘selling the family silver’, it was entitled to do so ‘with finality and without interference in order to realise maximum public benefits’. The ruling now means that the IPO, possibly Kenya’s largest ever sell-off, will go ahead as planned by the end of the year, with the government expecting to net about KES30 billion (USD451.6 million). Safaricom is 60%-owned by the state, and 40%-owned by holding company Vodafone Kenya. The UK’s Vodafone Group holds 87.5% of Vodafone Kenya, giving it a 35% indirect stake in Safaricom, with 12.5% of Vodafone Kenya held by mysterious Guernsey-registered firm Mobitelea Ventures.

Kenya, Safaricom, Vodafone Group