|Key People||Chief Executive Officer Michael Joseph|
|Products||3G, GSM, data and telephony|
Safaricom is Kenya's largest mobile-phone provider and has delivered strong growth over recent years, including 2008. The company, until recently majority-owned by Kenya's government, launched an IPO last year on the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) that brought nearly one million new investors to the exchange and then became controversial after the share price later dropped.
Safaricom was initially a department of the national government's monopoly Kenya Posts & Telecommunications Corporation but was spun off as a mobile-telephony subsidiary in 1993 with an analogue-based network, upgrading to a GSM network in 1996. Safaricom was incorporated in 1997 and in 2002 was converted into a limited-liability public corporation.
From an operating standpoint Safaricom registered another banner period in the second half of 2008 (through September), with its subscriber base increasing just over 50% year-on-year to 11.956 million, turnover up 20% to 34.5 billion Kenyan shillings (KSh) and before-tax profit up 2% to 8.98 billion KSh. The company also rolled out 3G service in the main population settlements of Nairobi, Mombasa and Magadi.
In March 2008 Safaricom also held an initial public offering IPO - Kenya's largest-ever - of 25% shares still held by the government, which were sold to nearly 1 million new investors at an IPO-subscribed price of 5.50 KSh. The newly-privatized Safaricom listed on the NSE at 5 Kenyan shillings (KSh) per share on June 9, 2008, which sent the NSE's market capitalization above one trillion KSh for the first time. Later that month Safaricom was added as a component of the NSE 20 Share Index after the NSE waived the standard one-year trading period on the exchange.
In subsequent months, however, Safaricom's stock price began declining and by October 2008 it had dropped to 4.50 KSh as the NSE's main benchmark, the NSE 20 Share Index, also slid with the global financial markets meltdown. Losses by Kenyan and Ugandan retail brokers and investors in the Safaricom IPO have since received extensive media coverage in both countries.
Michael Joseph has been CEO of Safaricom on secondment from Vodafone since that company's investment in Safaricom since mid-2000. He began as a his wireless-telephony career as a telecommunications technician some 40 years ago and since led the implementation of new and existing wireless networks in in South and North America, Australia, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. He is a graduate of the University of Cape Town, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.
Despite the complaints, however, Safaricom's 50 billion KSh share offering was dubbed “Best African IPO” at the African Investor Index (Ai) Awards held at the New York Stock Exchange in September 2008. The judging panel recognised the Safaricom IPO for delivering some 870,000 new investors - most of them retail - to the Nairobi Stock Exchange, plus enough foreign investors to put Kenya on the international investment map.
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