Category Archives: AGM

Septuagenarians and Auditor Changes on Kenyan Boards

Last week brought news that Co-Operative Bank had a new Chairman – John Murugu, who has previously worked at Treasury and CBK, is to take over as chairman on October 1, 2017, replacing Stanley Muchiri who is retiring after attaining the mandatory age of 70. 

The age of seventy as a cap for directors to serve on corporate boards has been paid lip service, until recently. But this year has seen prominent septuagenarians (70+ years) exit from financial firm boards including Peter Munga as Chairman at Equity Bank Group, Francis Muthaura as Chairman of Britam Holdings and now Mr. Muchiri who joined the board of Cooperative in 1986 and became Chairman in 2002. There could even be one more at Centum Investments with regard to top shareholder and director, Dr. Chris Kirubi who is also a former Chairman of the firm.

Dr. Kirubi was re-elected to the board in 2015, but the Centum AGM next week, where three other directors – Dr. Jim McFie, Henry Njoroge, Imtiaz Khan, all retire from the board, has an oddly-worded resolution – “Director above the age of 70 Years”  Pursuant to paragraph 2.5.1 of the Code of Corporate Governance Practices for Issuers of Securities to the Public 2015, to approve the continuation in office as a Director by Dr. Christopher John Kirubi, who has attained the age of seventy (70) years, until he next comes up for retirement by rotation.

Section 2.5.1 of the Capital Markets Authority (CMA)  Code of Corporate Governance Practices for Issuers of Securities states that it is desirable for board members to retire at the age of seventy years. Other changes in the code which are now been enforced more strictly include:

  • The Board shall rotate independent auditors every six to nine years (this is now  happening at some banks that have had the same auditors for more than a decade),
  • Auditors now narrate in the annual report to shareholders on key audit matters they encountered the company.
  • The status of Independent directors shall be checked annually, and they must not be associated by way of being an advisor to the company, or having a relationship – business or personal, with major shareholders or have cross-directorships with other directors.
  • A director of a listed company (except a corporate director) shall not hold such position in more than three public listed companies at any one time.
  • Independent directors can’t serve for more than nine years.
  • That a comprehensive independent legal audit is carried out at least once every two years by a legal professional in good standing with the Law Society of Kenya.
  • The Chairperson must be non-executive and not involved in day-to-day running of the business ( e.g. there wide expectations that Michael Joseph would play such a role as Kenya Airways chairman).
  • Publication of director resignations in the newspaper.
  • More engagement with institutional investors and media.

KQ EGM 2017

Kenya Airways (KQ) held an EGM – extraordinary general meeting of its shareholders today in Nairobi. KQ Chairman, Michael Joseph opened the KQ EGM with a statement that this was essential to the future of the airline, as it restructured their debt and reduced their cash payments. He cited the origin of the airlines’ problem as the fleet expansion, ordering new planes back in 2005, that arrived later than expected, and soon after there were issues like terrorist attacks, economic decline, Ebola and the airport fire. This was at a time that there were a lot of state-owned Middle East airlines allowed to Nairobi who did not have a profit motive and who undercut their KQ’s prices.

KQ’s first Dreamliner arrives in April 2014

He said the board had made responses such as offloading some aircraft to leases till the situation improved and they had also hired Sebastian Mikosz as CEO, who is a turnaround specialist.

Excerpts from the KQ EGM and the hour-long Q&A with shareholders

The Michael Joseph factor: Shareholders seem to have a lot of faith in Michael Joseph as a person to lead the turnaround. This is because of his legacy at Safaricom; he himself admitted as much in the challenge ahead of him, but he said that turning around KQ was much more complicated than Safaricom.

Hot button issues:

What Went Wrong? When it’s not clear what happened, Kenyans typically assign blame to corruption or mismanagement and several shareholders ask about a forensic audit query that had been done at KQ. Joseph said they had not forgotten the forensic audit, and he was going to clean the airline; he said that action had been taken with staff several dismissed or in court (He said justice was slow in the country cited a case where the former CFO had sued the airline and that case had not been heard a year later).

Payment to advisors; This came up several times and the figure cited was Kshs 1 5 billion. Joseph said the payment was a lump sum figure for the many advisors engaged in the complex restructuring deals. He cited Mckinsey as one case he was not happy and which had been terminated. Others were international competitively sourced and they had negotiated them down but had to pay.

Management ownership and staff pay: Shareholders asked the board and management to show commitment, by becoming shareholders. Joseph said he was a big investor at Safaricom and the KQ restructuring had an employee share ownership plan (ESOP) as part of the ownership plan, while disclosures about directors shareholdings would be forthcoming. Another shareholder asked the board and management to take a pay cut in line with what was expected of other employees.

Role of Government: Joseph said that the Government had allowed many new foreign airline flights to Kenya and that whenever the president visited abroad, other presidents asked if their airlines can fly to Kenya, or the tourism minister allows them to fly tourists to Mombasa – forgetting about KQ. Part of their future engagement with government will be on licensing of other airlines. On a question about nationalizing the airline, Joseph said that this had been ruled out and that KQ would remain a public company.

Banks left out to dry: Some shareholders asked if the banks agreed to the conversion? Banks lend depositors money to get it back and not for shares – and do not take KQ’s problems to other banks where this will make us miss dividends. There is a court case brought by some banks that will be ruled on August 10.

Fleet and performance CEO Mikosz spoke about monitoring the perception created in media about delays and cancellation at KQ and which unfairly gave the airline a bad impression. He said that flying 160 flights per days you expect 2-5% are expected to have some delays and this was standard in the aviation industry, but their stats were good.

Minority shareholders: Several minority shareholders said they had voiced issues at past AGM’s about high ticket prices, low dividends, and other issues who had been ignored and who were told that the airline was alright. Michael Joseph said he was an independent director and he and others were there to look out for minority shareholders.

Shareholders at the KQ EGM unanimously voted for the lengthy balance sheet restructuring that was done in a single vote.

Another circular will be issued with terms for shareholders investing afresh in the airline.

The next meeting will be a regular shareholder’s AGM on September 21.

KQ EGM swag: transport to/from town, t-shirt, packed lunch by NAS.

Coop Bank 2017 AGM

Cooperative Bank (Coop Bank) shareholders had their 2017 AGM in Nairobi where the directors proposed a Kshs 0.8 per share dividend as well as a bonus share for every five held.

At the AGM, their CEO, G. Muriuki, spoke of continuing the turnaround at the bank which had a Kshs 2.3 billion loss in 2001 when they had 100,000 customers – and on through 2016 when they had Kshs 353 billion of assets, Kshs 18 billion profits, 149 branches, and  6.2 million customers. The cooperative sector remains the heart and identity of the bank, and they will continue to provide services to the sector.  The cooperative movement also forms the anchor shareholding of Coop Bank with a 65% stake.

Most amazing, he said, was the digital transformation at the bank. Some years back, McKinsey had identified 60 services done at their branch that could be decentralized – and now, only 15% of transactions are done at the branch – with customers doing the bulk of transactions on mobile phones, at ATM’s, agents, and on the internet – and this had seen the Bank’s cost/income ratio reduce from 60% to 50%

At the AGM, there was also discussion on some challenges such as court cases & loan provisions, funds at held Chase Bank and hyperinflation in South Sudan which has resulted in losses. Some shareholders also asked if they could have the annual report mailed to them via post offices and also had other queries on issues like diaspora banking services, staff fraud, PesaLink, interim dividends, the bank’s share price, transport fare to attend the AGM, cyber crimes, and interest rate caps. In answering one question, the CEO said Cooperative Bank was not one of the bidders for Chase Bank as they had a presence similar to Chase and would focus on growing organically.

The  CEO also said this year marked the third bonus share issue since the bank had listed in 2008, and this was good for shareholders as the bank had grown its capital without asking shareholders to put in more money.  Coop Bank had a livestream of the AGM for any shareholders who were unable to attend the AGM, and more companies should do this for investors awareness

Unga Holdings 2016 AGM

The Unga Group had its 2016 AGM at the Intercontinental Hotel today. Revenue and profit were up, but profit was down compared to 2015 which has been boosted by the sale of a Bullpak subsidiary.

In comments at the AGM,  the Unga chairman and MD spoke on various issues such as changing food patterns as seen in new products that they are adding to reach consumers and farmer segments, more technology being deployed in agriculture and the rise of young agri-preneurs  who may be one day disrupt the food chain, difficulty obtaining quality maize, difficulties with getting timely payments from Nakumatt, and overall as slow down in the economy as seen in lower buying power for their products and a tightening of credit at banks.

Ahead of the usual votes to approve the accounts, directors re-election, dividend (Kshs 1/= share)  and re-naming of the company to Unga PLC (as per the 2015 companies act), the shareholders Q&A was the main part of the AGM.unga-2016-agm

Excerpts

  • Dividends & Bonus: Why no bonus after the Bullpak sale? The money from Bullpak went to buy Ennsvalley Bakery (and shareholders had approved it)
  • Product reach: Unga is a national brand, that’s sold mainly in supermarkets, but are not in every part of the country. They are seeing challenges with buyers affording products and will introduce smaller packs of some products to remain affordable and within reach of consumers.
  • Gift items: One shareholder asked for Unga shopping vouchers instead of lunch, and when the Chairman announced that there was a product pack to go with lunch, this got a cheer from the many shareholders, but the very next question was for t-shirts to market the company.
  •                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Chairman said they had made changes based on requests at past AGM’s but that she would endeavor to one day to have everything shareholders wanted – dividends , t-shirt, lunch, and product pack.

Olympia 2016 AGM: Turnaround? Part II

Olympia Capital held it’s 2016 AGM in in Nairobi on Monday. It was a brief meeting at the 680 Hotel during which the board promised they had turned the company round and expected to pay a dividend next year and be on time with their financial reports.  They will announce their half year results, in two weeks, and the CEO said their (unaudited)  business in Botswana was their best investment,  while  South Africa was a disaster where they had lost a lot of money.

Pic from the CBK website.

We don’t want cents

He said, 17 years after they made the deal, 50% of the company business is now from outside Kenya, and even though the Botswana Pula had major exchange rate swings they expect  Kalahari Floor Tiles to pay an interim dividend which will be passed on to Olympia shareholders as a full year dividend.

Shareholders questioned the company’s debts, investment decisions & classification, the absence of the chairman’s report from the accounts and a decision to de-list a subsidiary in South Africa to protect it from creditors.  On the, promised dividend, shareholders said that they want shilling dividend payments, not cents.