Safaricom’s IPO: The Russians Want in?

I was reading the Nation’s article on the bulldogs bidders who are clammering to get in on this huge IPO. The article mentions a company called Renaissance Capital. When I googled the name, it appears to be a Russian owned company. That surprised me (for various reasons).

Anyway, I don’t know about you guys, but when I think about the words “Russian” and “business” in the same sentence, a few things come up. Like:

The Russians perfected the art of using poisons to assassinate people. Remember that old umbrella trick they liked using? You’d be walking down the street minding your own business and poop! “someone” would accidentally “poke” you in the leg with the “tip” of their umbrella and before you know it, you’d end up going from this:

To this:

or from this:                                To this…..

In fact, the few times I recall reading about Russians “doing business in Africa” was when they were busy flying arms into war zones in Angola, Mozambique and Ethiopia (oh…& when they flew Bin Laden from Sudan to Afghanistan).

But they do have lots and lots of money…….(just don’t Fck with them or you’ll end up looking like a whole new person)

17 comments for “Safaricom’s IPO: The Russians Want in?

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  2. kim
    April 25, 2008 at 8:26 am


    funny looking ugly coloured woman you got nothing to tell kenyans IPO is now a foregone conlusion and i have your record on how corrupt you were at FEMNET to me u talk n think rubbish

  3. Jeffersons
    February 7, 2008 at 9:44 am


  4. pesa
    September 3, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    Whats with your Xenophobia?
    o all Chinese are gamblers,Americans r loud and stupid,Britons r stuck up,Aussies wear shorts and G’day mate!,

  5. coldtusker
    August 29, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Sijui – Erm, so you want to set a precedent where thieves like those behind mobitelea go scot-free?

    BTW, I don’t condone the corruption that Vodafone engaged in but at least they put their money, skills & tchnology to work… mobitelea are plain THIEVES…

  6. Sijui
    August 28, 2007 at 10:23 am

    L. Muthoni Wanyeki is a well known civil society activist, kudos to her for being a conscientious citizen, that being said my response to such articles is YAWN! YAWN!

    A classic case of thinking with your emotions rather than with your head! By her own calculations Mobitelea owns 5% and by that count made Ksh. 850,000,000 last year so it stands to reason that the 25% sale to Kenyans will reap 5 times that amount and accrue to thousands of hardworking Kenyans who receive a stake in an extremely profitable company that can transform their lives. More importantly, broad public ownership of Safaricom can ensure that Moi and his cronies are bought out fair and square at shareholders meetings if events warrant it.

    Their is little value to Kenyans in a prolonged prosecution of Moi and his cronies especially when nothing directly accrues to them other than ‘justice’ and ‘satisfaction’ while Safaricom continues to reap billions that are only accessible to a British corporation and Kenya’s tax authorities!!!! To me what is worse is that 25% going to two entities rather than thousands!

  7. Patriotic Kenyan
    August 27, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    A small axe to the Safaricom IPO
    I am not the daughter of a Big Man. Neither am I married to a Big Man — or even to the son of a Big Man.

    I had the good fortune to have essentially middle-class parents who worked hard to give my siblings and me a good basic education. And I had the good fortune to have a mother whose citizenship made it possible for me to attend university, courtesy of the student loans system of her country.

    The student loans covered fees and accommodation. But my parents couldn’t afford to send us much money — getting $100 on birthdays and at Christmas was like getting a windfall. So I worked to supplement the student loans, from the time I left Kenya at the age of 16.

    Of course, I now recognise that, despite not being associated with a big man’s family, in comparison with the majority of people in Kenya, I am not only fortunate, I am actually extremely privileged.

    But, despite that recognition, having worked since the age of 16, I also know the value of my money. I have worked for what I have. This is why, for instance, I get apoplectic with rage about corruption.

    Under Kenya’s ridiculously constructed tax brackets, I fall into the same top tax bracket as Kenya’s Big Men. And I get nothing for it, having to pay privately for everything—including security where I live and medical insurance. But, my privileges taken into account, I certainly wouldn’t mind paying the amounts of tax that I do pay if I felt the money went to help those with fewer privileges, not to pay the obscene salaries of those who cannot be bothered to assure the House of a quorum sufficient to pass even 10 Bills a year — or to build the “bigness” of the Big Men.

    The other night, some friends and I calculated the share of Safaricom’s reported Ksh17 billion ($253.7 million) profit that would have gone to Mobitelea — the company that, according to the Public Investments Committee, is irregularly in possession of no less than five per cent of the mobile phone company’s shares, meaning that there are apparently no records of Mobitelea having paid for that shareholding.

    MEANING THAT MY TAX MONEY, which went into building and sustaining Telkom and Safaricom, was essentially given away. Meaning that, coming back to our calculation, the alleged owners of Mobitelea — the son of a Big Man and the son-in-law of another Big Man under the former regime and a Big Man in this regime — earned themselves no less than Ksh850,000,000 ($12.6 million) last year alone. From doing nothing at all, except live off the profits of having stolen from us. Ksh850 million off my back (and your’s as well). Again, I am incapacitated with rage.

    And yet, the Treasury insists that Safaricom’s initial public offer will proceed, regardless of the outcomes of the PIC debate within the House or any court cases that might ensue.


    FRANKLY, DESPITE OUR NEWFOUND fascination with IPOs, I don’t think a single one of us should put a single shilling forward. Those of us who do work hard and honestly deserve better. If shares in Safaricom could essentially be given away to Big Men, their sons and sons-in laws, then they can be given away to us. Why should we pay for them? They’re our property in the first place, which the government was meant to hold in trust for us. If it breached that trust for three of us, then it should share the love with all of us.

    It might not seem like it, but there are, in fact, victims of corruption. Those victims are you and me — every single Kenyan who dutifully pays his or her taxes. I’m furious. I’m ready for a tax boycott — the residential associations led the way and it’s time to scale up their efforts. We need to say to hell with that IPO until the issues raised by the PIC have been satisfactorily dealt with. We need to be the “small axes” that Robert Nestor Marley talked about and cut down all those “big trees.”

    L. Muthoni Wanyeki is a political scientist based in Nairobi

  8. just what?
    August 27, 2007 at 5:56 am

    which russians, the oligarchs or the KGB?
    this is a question that seems to have gone unnoticed. is renaissance in with the oligarchs (who were thrown out of russia) or the KGB/FSB men who now run the country?

    this weeks main story at the economist.com may answer part of this question,but not enough to set all minds at ease.

  9. kenyanentrepreneur
    August 25, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    MainaT & Sijui:
    Interesting info on Steve Jennings (I’ll have to google him). I can see why he’d want to move from Russia to Africa (both places are choke full of mineral resources, which is harnessed correctly can be used to make a killing) – but Africa is not Russia (we don’t have the engineers and we’re much poorer, but if he likes risk, then that’s the place for him)

    I think the oligarchs (whatever you think of them) did in fact turn these state owned conglomerates into very profitable companies. People like Abramovich are not rich from doing nothing (the companies they run are profitable). and isn’t Gazprom, one of the world’s largest companies?

  10. mwasjd
    August 25, 2007 at 7:48 am

    Stereotyping isn’t the way to go. If so all Kenyans are corrupt and tribalistic. If they can deliver the services people want, and stick to the rules, I say the more the merrier. Check blogsphere, most guys complain about the service they recieve at stock brokers. Think about FDI, employment and the other benefits.

  11. coldtusker
    August 25, 2007 at 1:12 am

    All I wish is that RenCap kicks the shyte out of the lazy, conniving brokers we have on the NSE…

  12. just what?
    August 24, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    only gangsters and other heartless men make money in russia.and the money is made FROM the russian state (via basement sales of state assets eg KenGen for 20M), not by straight business (value creation). we let them in at our own risk.
    google the name ‘viktor bout’ ‘moldova’ ‘transdneisteria’ ‘south ossetia’ and see the type.
    and please dont forget our old pals, the armenians.

  13. Sijui
    August 24, 2007 at 9:47 am

    RenCap is an enigma that I am curious to know more about. MainaT is right, Stephen Jennings is an American who hedged his bets and set up shop in Russia right after the collapse and made a killing. I got wind of him when I started reading in Forbes/Bloomberg that he was going to sink $1 billion in to an investment fund for Africa….I have been following his trail ever since. I would be curious to know what his relationship with Putin is, I have heard Rumours that he did the opposite of the oligarchs by cozying up with the political establishment hence unfettered access, I’ll see if that pans out.

    Anyway he says that now that Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers et al are moving in to Russia, its time for him to find the next frontier and he has choosen Africa.

    I am still trying to decide if he is friend or foe, so far he scores well in the former: a) he convinced Saudi/Dubai money to cough up half the capital for the new investment fund b) they have sponsored the biggest corporate IPO in West Africa as MainaT mentioned, and have said there is plenty more from where that came c) he has made clear he has a big appetite for risk and they will stake their claim on ventures where they believe they can get returns in the 30-50% range d) the way they clinched the deal at the NSE was brilliant, obviously they had this in the bag based on the effusive praise that Mbaru gave in terms of their ‘potential’ in the market.

    That being said, there are all the things that KE mentioned….let’s see how things unfold……..

  14. mainat
    August 24, 2007 at 5:46 am

    Stephen Jennings (doesn’t sound Russian to me), who is the CEO/Chairman of the whole group RenCap companies and majority shareholder was working for Credit Suisse First Boston when he saw an untapped oppurtinity and started Reinasaince. He is using the same game plan to go big into the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa (they’ve already helped two Nigerian banks do IPOs in Western markets), get into a relatively untapped stock market (in terms of Western exposure) and grow big before the big boys come in.
    They also operate in the UK/US et al so I am not sure they’d be allowed if they were doing anything shady (i.e. which by the low standards on Wall Street is meaningless anyway).

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