Centum case suffers fresh quorum hitch

The Capital Markets Tribunal has been hit by a fresh quorum hitch, following expiry of the chairman’s term yesterday, further delaying the Rea Vipingo buyout case which had started only last week after a lengthy delay.

The three-year tenure of chairman Jinaro Kipkemoi Kibet came to an end yesterday but Treasury secretary Henry Rotich is yet to gazette a replacement or re-appoint him for another term.

In a telephone interview, Mr Rotich said he had appointed the tribunal’s chair and sent the name for gazettement. He, however, did not disclose the name of the appointee. “I have forwarded the appointment to the AG’s office for gazettement,” said Mr Rotich.

This marks yet another time when the tribunal is in paralysis due to the lack of quorum, stalling the hearing of a case between Centum and two British brothers who are fighting to acquire the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed sisal firm Rea Vipingo. The tribunal met for the first time last week and had set September 15 as the second mention date to confirm if it has quorum to proceed with hearing of the case.

Another mention is set for October 6 to confirm whether all parties have filed their affidavits. Centum moved to the tribunal to oppose the planned takeover of Rea Vipingo by the Robinow brothers — who already control 57.04 per cent of the sisal producer through Rea Trading Company.

Centum argues that the offer by the Robinow brothers of Sh70 per share plus a conditional bonus of up to Sh15 per share from future disposal of the firm’s land violates takeover rules. The investment firm currently holds 296,500 shares or a 0.49 per cent stake in Rea Vipingo and has placed a bid to acquire the sisal producer at Sh75 a share.

Centum has previously moved to the High Court to compel the Treasury Secretary to nominate officials to the tribunal to hear the investment firm’s case.

The Capital Markets Act sets the quorum for the tribunal as chairman and two members and has powers similar to those of a High Court. The CMA tribunal has been operating with two members – the chairman and member George Karwenji Kibira – before Mr Rotich appointed two other members in July.

But the appointment of Dr Laila Macharia and financial consultant Karen Kandice as members could not unlock the impasse as the tribunal lacked a secretary. The appointment of Jane Moraa Adogo as secretary to the tribunal completed the quorum needed to hear the multi-billion shilling takeover case.

Mr Kibet was handed a three-year term effective September 1 2011, by then acting minister for Finance Njeru Githae.

“The term of the chairman, who is one of the three members necessary to raise quorum, came to an end at the end of last month. If his term is not renewed nor a new chairman appointed, then the tribunal will fall back to not having a quorum to hear our appeal,” Centum said in a statement to Business Daily.