Billionaire John Kibunga Kimani has increased his ownership in telecommunications giant Safaricom, acquiring an additional 8.64 million shares, bringing his total holdings to 27.7 million units during the six months leading up to December 2023. Like other savvy investors capitalizing on the stock’s lower prices, Kimani’s new shares are valued at Sh113.12 million, based on the closing price of Sh13.10 per share on a Friday.
As of December, Dr. Kimani now stands as the second-largest individual shareholder in East Africa for Safaricom, trailing only behind Chirag Menesh Solanki and Kalavati Menesh Solanki, who collectively hold 40.41 million units.
The value of Kimani’s stake currently stands at Sh362.4 million, while the Solanki stake is worth Sh529.3 million, equivalent to 0.1 percent of Safaricom’s total valuation of Sh524.9 billion.
Retail investors, who had been gradually reducing their Safaricom holdings from the company’s initial public offering in 2008 until 2019, have been rebuilding their positions over the last two years. This trend has emerged as Safaricom’s share price experienced a decline of 20.6 percent, dropping to Sh13.90 between June and December.
With foreign corporate investors decreasing their exposure to Safaricom, local investors, both individual and corporate, have seized the opportunity to increase their stakes.
East African individual shareholders, in particular, saw their holdings rise to 1.715 billion shares by December, up from 1.653 billion in June 2023. Meanwhile, local corporate investors, including Vodafone Kenya Ltd and the National Treasury, increased their stake from 34.88 billion shares to 35.22 billion.
Foreign individual investors also participated in the buying spree, increasing their holding to 53.16 million units from 45.66 million in June 2023. On the contrary, foreign institutional investors reduced their stake to 3.08 billion units from 3.49 billion in June.
Safaricom, being the largest listed firm on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), has attracted both retail and institutional investors across various ownership bands.
Despite a decline in the number of smaller investors holding up to 100,000 shares, from 822,122 in March 2009 to 533,172 in December 2023, Safaricom continues to be a significant player in the market since its IPO in 2008. The company witnessed a surge in new brokerage accounts during its IPO, more than doubling the number of accounts at the NSE to 1.7 million.