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Monday, July 14, 2008

The great Safaricom IPO scam: how Morgan Stanley walked away with nearly half of the shares

Nearly half the Safaricom shares reserved for foreign investors have ended up in the hands of the lead transaction advisor, Siasa Duni can now reveal. It is not clear, however, whether the firm, Morgan Stanley Plc, kept the shares for clients or for itself. In the past, Morgan Stanley, which was the book runner for Safricom's IPO, had declined to reveal the names of its clients, heightening speculation over their identities.

Of the 2 billion shares on offer in the IPO, 814 million were allocated to Morgan Stanley. The firm, together with their local partners Dyer & Blair, did the historic IPO transaction for a consideration of 50 cents. If Morgan Stanley were to sell the shares at KSh. 7 each, they would make KSh. 1.2 billion based on the initial IPO price of KSh. 5.50. Another 9 million shares went to Morgan Stanley Investment Management of New York. The foreign lot was flogged for KSh. 11 billion.

Alcazar, the firm that Ikolomani MP Dr Bonny Khalwale told Parliament had bought a huge chunk of the shares, did not feature on the list. That does not necessarily mean the firm, that owns slightly less that 8% of Telkom Kenya shares, did not buy.

There are several names on the list that are not known locally, and they could represent anyone. In any case, there is nothing, legally speaking at least, that could have barred the Dubai-based Alcazar, or anyone for that matter, from participating in the IPO. Most of the firms that "won" in the Safaricom IPO are based in London, Geneva and South Africa. The roll represents the original allotment and is still not avilable from the NSE, even after the statutory one month passed since the company's listing, during which the situation has certainly changed. Market sources intimate that a number of the so-called institutions have sold, casting doubt on whether the entire 5% stake in Safaricom went to institutions or speculators.

Safaricom has dominated trading at the NSE, dealing in upwards of 20 million units daily, a situation that can be attributed in part to the large number of retail investors in shareholding book. Indeed, the period has coincided with the shilling's volatility the dollar, which suggests massive capital repatriation. The list is, however, dominated by reputable well-known funds that are likely to guarantee the stability of the share if politicians do not ratchet up their anti-investment campaign. One is London hedge fund Millennium Global which took the largest stake at 150 million. Another is Genesis investment Management of London which bought 128 million shares, while its African fund took 12 million. Investec went home with 12 million and another 5 million on a separate account. Other big takers were London-based Emso Partners which bought 100 million shares and Pitcet Asset Management with 150 million. Pitcet London is part of a Swiss private banker with the same name and was founded in 1805. Imara Asset Management, a Zimbabwean asset manager, took a total of 20 million shares in two accounts.

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