Deacons plans revival of staff shares scheme

Wednesday August 3 2016

From left, Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE)

From left, Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) chairman Samuel Kimani, Keroche Breweries chief executive officer Tabitha Karanja, Deacons Kenya Ltd CEO Muchiri Wahome and chairman Peter Gichohi Njoka are taken through the online trading process by trader Amanda Midikira of Kestrel Capital during the listing of Deacons at the bourse on August 2, 2016. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU  

By CHARLES MWANIKI

Listed fashion retailer Deacons East Africa is likely to authorise the creation of new shares as it seeks to revive its employee share ownership plan (Esop) in the coming weeks.

The new entrant at the bourse has issued almost its entire stock of authorised shares, leaving the firm little room to distribute additional shares either to the Esop or to capital-raising ventures such as rights and bonus share issues.

The firm has issued 123,558,228 shares, equivalent to 99.96 per cent of its total authorised share capital of 123,600,000, leaving only 41,772 shares unalloted to shareholders. At the current price of Sh15 a share, that would only amount to Sh627 million in value.

The company had established an Esop in 2010, but the programme was discontinued earlier this year ahead of the listing with 1.1 million having already been taken up by employees. In the same year, it put its shares in the over-the-counter market.

“I am hopeful that before the year ends a new Esop programme will be proposed ad adopted by the board of directors,” said Deacons chief executive officer Muchiri Wahome.

The company is planning to start structuring the new Esop immediately, though it may take time before all the approvals are finalised.

Stock market experts say the process of creating new shares for an Esop should be straightforward, requiring only approval at an annual general meeting.

“They have an AGM each year, and like all the other companies if they decide to have something like a rights issue, or Esop, they will simply create new shares. It is easy to do because these things are prepared well in advance,” said Kestrel Capital chief executive Andre DeSimone.
Held in trust

Deacons set up the first scheme for permanently employed staff in October 2010 with a total of 640,000 shares that were held in a trust through a law firm. The employees bought these shares progressively through a check-off system on their salaries.

The company effected a share split and bonus issue in 2012, which raised the number of shares in the scheme to 2.56 million.

By the time the scheme was closed effective March 31 this year, employees had exercised their options on 43 per cent of these shares, leaving 1.46 million on the table.