Portland ownership talks

Portland ownership talks
Published: 04 September 2006

A meeting to review ownership of East African Portland Cement is scheduled for next week.  The Wednesday gathering, to be attended by shareholders, will decide among other issues, whether a listed firm, Bamburi Cement Limited, should sell some of its shares in East African Portland. 
The outcome of the meeting might see some of the shareholders cede part of their stake to allow Portland list at least 25 per cent of its shares as required by the Nairobi Stock Exchange. Currently only six per cent of share-holding is listed, a clear-cut breach of rules. 
The announcement of the planned meeting was made yesterday by Trade and Industry Minister Dr Mukhisa Kituyi after the launch of the Sh1.8 billion Business Sector Programme Support which aims at strengthening the country’s private sector and increasing competitiveness of small and medium enterprises. 
Lafarge, the 73 per cent owner of Bamburi, directly or indirectly holds 41.7 per cent in Portland. Other shareholders of Portland include the National Social Security Fund (27 per cent), and Treasury (25 per cent). 
"The meeting will decide whether Lafarge can enhance or reduce equity in East Africa Portland Cement," Dr Kituyi said.  The minister said the issue of ’perceivable monopolistic behaviour’ in the industry due to Bamburi’s interest in a rival company would also be studied.  However, he declined to predict the outcome of the meeting saying it was up to the shareholders to come up with concrete solutions. 
Recently, Bamburi Cement managing director, Michel Puchercos defended the company’s shareholding in East African Portland Cement as legal and mutually beneficial.  Mr Puchercos said the only consequence he knew of was the tremendous increase in price of Portland share, adding that a few years ago it was at its lowest.  Lafarge also has 15 per cent share in Athi River Mining and sits in the company’s board just like it does in Bamburi and Portland.