Category Archives: BAT

Kutwa Tuesday: death of the cyber café

Once, long ago, I wrote a paper about a business case to put up a cyber café in an airport terminal – for transit passengers to browse there as they waited for the flight to connect. That model is in place today in airports all over the world (not my doing) but its’ time may already have passed with wi-fi zones and wireless laptops whose users don’t need to use cyber cafe facilities anymore.

But even cyber cafes’ that are in town may be under threat.

Until three months ago I’d spend about an hour in a cyber cafe each Saturday and Sunday. I’d go there to my check my-email and then browse quite a bit when I was done.

But all that has stopped as I now check my email and browse for information I need to know instantly – from hotmail, gmail, sports scores, stock prices – using a plain old phone (not bambanet, or blackberry) as the Safaricom EDGE service is available on most of their phones even some of the cheaper ones. I get the information wherever I am and don’t have to visit a cyber cafe unless it’s to print a document or download a PDF report.

Oil slick
The sale of Somken petrol stations to the National Oil Corporation of Kenya (NOCK) has been put on hold ever since the previous NOCK MD resigned from the company. Haggles remain over the high price bid for the stations.

BAT smoke-out
BAT Ghana has voluntarily de-listed from the Ghana Stock Exchange.

Does that portend anything for BAT Kenya one of the blue chip stocks on the Nairobi stock exchange and one of the highest paying dividend stocks? Cigarette smokers have had their smoking freedom curtailed in Nairobi and other urban areas (Nairobi city has less than a half dozen outdoor smoking points) making them clandestine smokers who hide on staircases and bathrooms (but at least most bars retain a smoking section). What impact will that have on sales?

BAT Kenya manufactures cigarettes here and exports a significant amount to other regional countries (who have not curtailed smoking) which should cushion it slightly from the new laws.

Stockbroker still frozen
The statutory management of Francis Thuo stockbrokers (by the Nairobi Stock Exchange) has been extended for another six months.

the pyramids that collapsed
Much has changed in the one year since nyramid schemes were highlighted here. Since then they have come under increasing pressure from the government, SACCO’s and most important the banks who frozen account necessary for their operations (and who probably still hold the schemes ‘missing billions’ that investors are crying for).

The latest collapse was Amity and it was preceded by Sasanet investment co-op (suspended operations), Spell investments (suspended operations), Circuit investments (suspended operations), CLIP (suspended operations), DECI (suspended operations), and the Kenya business community savings & credit society (Kenya akiba) (suspended operations)

Kenya news on Youtube
Some people say they are tired of political news, while others can’t get enough of it. But the Nation Media Group has gone ahead and made their new clips available on Youtube

Pesa point wins
Two yard ago Pesapoint was launched and it began a battle with Kenswitch – another network of banks sharing ATM facilities. But today Pesa Point has signed up most mid-size banks and have a network of almost 200 ATM machines – and last month added corporate banking giant Standard Chartered to their network.

BAT 2006 AGM

Report by Mwananchi of the British American Tobacco AGM took place at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi in late April.

– They offered FREE parking for those who attended the AGM which was great!
– The AGM commenced on time but the Chairman read his “Chairman’s Report” which should have been taken as read!
– There was a short film on BAT’s new logo as well as what they are up to. Partly it seemed great PR considering the regulatory problems they are facing BUT a nice touch!
– The press was there in full force!
– The meeting was handled well & not rushed.
– The registration line was handled speedily & all shareholders got a “chit” that allowed them one bag of freebies with lunch & soda at the conclusion of the AGM. Quite a sight in a 5-star hotel as shareholders spread out with their lunch boxes out on the lawns & corridors of the hotel.

Freebies: Polo shirt & Cap (Pall Mall) with a duffel bag.

Questions/Comments/Suggestions
– Frustration at BARS but the queries were handled well by GeorgeM of BARS. BARS handled the registration as well.
– An excellent suggestion by a shareholder to hold the AGM at the factory similar to Sameer (who pitched a tent in their lawn/garden) to save on costs as well as provide the chance to tour the factory. The chairman responded that the AGM was an affordable indulgence once a year. The MD did agree to allow shareholders to tour “their” factory.
– I don’t brook idiotic questions & this was from a guy I see at most AGMs I go to & he is a smart guy & should have known better! He asked why shut down Uganda when electricity is cheaper there plus loss of jobs. The matter was addressed in the Annual Report (do people read it?) but the MD indulged him & explained that the Nairobi factory is 10 times larger thus marginal costs are much lower. In addition, Uganda is facing severe electricity rationing thus moving to Kenya was fortuitous.
– Why don’t Kenyan shareholders have a larger stake? As answered that coz BAT does not want to sell its shares.
– Bonus/Split. The FD (Lopokoiyit) said it did not benefit BAT & they have been under pressure from various parties (aka brokers) to do so. Listed firms whose shares trade often pay more in fees (A STUPID RULE THAT ONLY BENEFITS CMA, NSE & BROKERS NOT THE LISTED FIRMS – VituVingiSana).
– BAT will continue paying high dividends in lieu of bonuses but the Board will consult on the matter. They shot it down in the last Board Meeting
– Regulatory concerns were brought up by shareholders. BAT is working on trying to ensure a “fair” bill is passed by lobbying the powers that be. As a side note (my observation) that includes junkets for MPs to luxury hotels at the Coast!
– The usual suspects were there trying to get themselves on tape/TV…

Also
An alternate view of the company in light of recent legislation restricting smoking in Kenya.