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Minority shareholders 'unhappy' over Didata's AccessKenya takeover offer

By , Editor, ITWeb Africa
Kenya , 28 May 2013

Minority shareholders 'unhappy' over Didata's AccessKenya takeover offer

Shareholders of Kenyan internet services firm AccessKenya have met with the firm’s board to thrash out their views over a takeover bid from South African headquartered Dimension Data.

Earlier this month, Johannesburg based IT services company Dimension Data made a Ksh3 billion (R326.4 million) offer to acquire AccessKenya.

Dimension Data said that to buy the firm, it is offering Ksh14.00 (R1.50) per share, a premium of 42%.

According to Kenya’s The Star, AccessKenya was listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NES) in 2007 at an initial public offering (IPO) price of Ksh10 per share and it then closed at Ksh9.85 on May 3 this year before its trading was suspended, pending the Dimension Data offer.

However, in 2008, The Star says that AccessKenya’s share price topped Ksh40.

At an annual general meeting held with board members and advisors in Nairobi yesterday, a group of minority shareholders have therefore expressed concerns that they may be getting a ‘raw’ deal.

An unnamed shareholder filmed on Kenya’s K24 TV said: "If the share continues to trade, it could maybe even reach Sh14 or even Sh15, Sh20, and even Sh30, and then give us 40% of Sh30?”

Another shareholder, Daniel Kimotho, told The Star, "Sh14 is absolutely very low. Some of us bought the share at Sh36 - 40 and still hold onto the share to date...it is a big loss."

The board of AccessKenya, though, has contracted independent financial advisors, Kestrel Capital, to advise on whether the Sh14 is a fair price. An announcement on the matter is expected in the next four weeks, say reports.

Paras Shah, a transaction legal advisor and board secretary, said in the AccessKenya annual general meeting: "It is not up to the board to force anyone of you to sell or not to sell; the ultimate decision will be yours as a shareholder."

But the minority shareholders may face an uphill battle in having their demands met.

For Didata to seal the AccessKenya deal, 75% of shareholders plus one of the ordinary voting shares have to give the nod to the buyout.

And only 238 shareholders out of the total 28,288 shareholders hold 75.5% of company, reports The Star. The top 10 shareholders also reportedly hold 116.9 million shares out of 218 million total shares: making up a 53.6% dominant stake.

Shareholders with 1-50,000 shares only own 24.5% of the company.

Top execs at AccessKenya, though, have attempted to ease concerns that minority shareholders may have regarding the possible deal.

"The CMA (Capital Markets Authority) will be taking their role very seriously as the regulator to protect all the minority shareholders and all of the shareholders as will your board,” said AccessKenya's chief executive director, David Somen.

Meanwhile, Didata's communications manager Barbara Muzata has told ITWeb Africa that Didata's offer for AccessKenya still has to complete shareholder and regulatory approvals.

Muzata added that Didata is looking at a "timeframe of September or October 2013" for the possible final outcome of the process.

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