My leave comes to an end this week and the final AGM I attended was the 36th of TPS Serena at KICC on April 29th. Serena ended the year with a profit before tax of 198 million (up from 43m in 2003) – equivalent to earnings per share of Kshs. 3.37, out of which it will pay a total dividend of 1.1 shillings per share to ordinary shareholders.
T.P.S. Serena ended the week at 52 shillings per share (12 month high is 53). However, the Serena MD, Mr. Jan Mohamed, announced that the outlook for tourism in 2005 was restrained owing to higher prices for fuel, electricity, and food items which could impact negatively on the amount of local spending on tourism activities.
Chairman: The Chairman is Mr. Francis Okomo Okello, and Barclays shareholders (who flamed me earlier) will be happy to know that he is a seasoned chairman and manager as demonstrated at this AGM. He was very relaxed and natural and had a good rapport with shareholder especially during a thorny Q&A session. He engaged them with humour, Swahili proverbs, and was in command of the meeting, after which he mingled with shareholders at lunch.
Serena Restructuring: In a few months time, Serena shareholders will be asked to approve a corporate restructuring that will combine Serena properties in Tanzania and Zanzibar (where Serena is the leading tourism brand). Kenyan shareholders will be asked to exchange their shares in return for shares in a new East African Serena that will be double the turnover and size.
Sticky Point: The questions were typically mundane, and the only hitch for the Board came during election time. Up for re-election was a Britsh national, Mr. Iain Cheyne, who was absent (and had also been absent at the last AGM). Chairman Okello, apologized on his behalf but was taken to explain the “invaluable contribution” Cheyne made as a director despite his non-attendance of his own election. The Chairman urged shareholders to re-elect Cheyne (which they did) and directed them to the memo & articles of the company which specified how they could nominate other directors.