Most banks (Equatorial & part ownership of Commercial Bank of Africa) straddle both "old" & "new" since technology is core to their operations.
I am not a fan of Merali's listed entities (both are OEFs) i.e. they do not make much money for its minority shareholders:
- Sameer Africa (which IPO's some 10 years ago at 35.50) which has been a mega-disappointment to all who bought into the IPO or even thereafter. The price on 8 Aug 2006 was 15.50 so all you have to show for 10 years is 50% loss in value & some miniscule dividends.
- Sasini has seen droughts, poor prices, government interference & strong KShs since 2004 thus its profits have been subdued! These traded at 120/- at one time! Currently at 29/-.
Rumours have been swirling for the past 2 years that Eveready will go public but there has been nothing concrete. Unfortunately, Eveready has suffered intense competition from imports that have hurt both sales & profits.
You can't entirely blame the Management or ownership for the decline coz the gov't doesn't help. The gov't should & could:
- Lower cost of inputs (electricity supply is unreliable & expensive)
- Lower taxes (lower taxes e.g VAT decreases the competitiveness of largely untaxed imports)
- Improving the infrastructure (better roads, telecommunications)
- Improving governance (corruption at all levels of government)
To Eveready's credit, they have survived the lean years & might improve their performance with E.A.Community & Sudan. Many industrial firms did not make it through the lean 1990s.
I have to give credit to Naushad Merali that his firms continue to operate in Kenya providing Kenyans (though his firms hire a dispropotionate number of Indian expats) with jobs. He could have shut down both the Eveready & Firestone factories to become a mere importer BUT to his credit, he kept them open. I hope that the larger EAC market will benefit both firms since Kenya needs the exports & jobs!