July 19, 2024

Housing Finance Development

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Gov’t to offload shares in Stanbic Holdings, Housing Finance, & 4 other firms on NSE

During a Cabinet meeting held at State House, Nairobi, on June 11, the government has approved the divestiture of its shareholding in six major companies listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).

This move, which is a crucial part of the administration’s transformative economic strategy, aims to optimise the nation’s development aspirations by leveraging private sector efficiencies and investments.

Chaired by President Ruto, the meeting underscored the administration’s commitment to economic reforms and sustainable growth, particularly in the management and governance of state corporations.

The divestiture decision aligns with the broader goals of the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA), focusing on enhancing transparency, accountability, and economic vitality.

The six companies earmarked for divestiture include;

  1. East African Portland Cement Limited, where the government holds a 25.3% stake and National Social Security Fund (NSSF) a 27% stake.
  2. Nairobi Securities Exchange (3.36%).
  3. Housing Finance Company of Kenya Limited (2.41%)
  4. Stanbic Holdings (formerly CfC Stanbic Bank Limited) (1.1%)
  5. Liberty Kenya Holdings (formerly CfC Insurance Holdings) (0.9%).
  6. Eveready East Africa PLC (17.2% through Kenya Development Corporation).

Kenya has embarked on an extensive plan to divest from certain state-owned enterprises as part of a broader strategy to streamline government operations and boost economic efficiency.

This move is driven by several key factors:

Economic Efficiency and Reduced Bureaucracy

The new Privatisation Act, signed by President William Ruto in October 2023, aims to reduce bureaucratic inefficiencies that hinder the performance of state-owned enterprises.

By allowing private sector management, the government hopes to enhance operational efficiency and service delivery in these enterprises, which have traditionally been bogged down by government red tape​​.

Many state-owned companies have been financially burdensome for the government, requiring continuous financial support.

By divesting from these entities, the government intends to alleviate the fiscal strain on its resources.

The sale of shares in these companies is expected to generate significant revenue, which can be redirected towards critical infrastructure projects and other public services​.

Enhancing Capital Markets

One of the primary goals of President Ruto’s administration is to revitalise Kenya’s capital markets.

By listing more companies on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), the government seeks to deepen the capital market, making it more attractive to both local and international investors.

This move is also aimed at increasing transparency and accountability in the operations of former state-owned enterprises​.

Stimulating Economic Growth

Privatisation is seen as a way to stimulate economic growth by attracting private investment.

The government believes that private sector involvement will drive innovation, improve service quality, and create job opportunities.

This is particularly relevant in sectors such as hospitality, aviation, and manufacturing, where private investment can lead to significant improvements and expansions​.

In addition to the divestiture, the Cabinet meeting addressed several other critical economic issues.

It approved the write-off of historical debts amounting to Sh6.8 billion owed by coffee farmers nationwide, as part of efforts to revitalise the agricultural sector.

This debt waiver is a component of the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA), aimed at fostering economic renaissance through increased foreign direct investments and support for local industries.

Furthermore, the Cabinet endorsed the modernisation of the New Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (KPCU) and other initiatives aimed at bolstering the coffee production value chain.

These measures are expected to enhance Kenya’s coffee production, making it a premier export on the global stage.