EDITORIAL: Safaricom, Centum public disclosure worth emulating

Mr Chris Kirubi. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Billionaire businessman Chris Kirubi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Two announcements in the past two weeks by two of Kenya’s well known corporate heads have put the issue of health status of senior executives into focus. It is often said that a company is only as good as its people.

That’s why firms spend top dollar on hiring the best talent as they fight to stay at the top of the game. The need for top notch employees applies from the bottom of the pyramid junior workers all the way to the management and boardroom.

Once a company has assembled a winning team, it ordinarily strives to provide best health cover for its staff, in addition to competitive wages. A private firm’s primary objective is to make money for its investors. That is why the health of its people is paramount for company owners

Safaricom #ticker:SCOM CEO Bob Collymore was about two weeks ago given sick off to receive specialised treatment abroad.

In his absence, chief financial officer Sateesh Kamath will take charge supported by Joseph Ogutu, the company’s director of Strategy and Innovation.

Centum Investments #ticker:ICDC late last week also disclosed that its single-biggest individual shareholder billionaire Chris Kirubi had flown abroad for medical attention. The information came through an internal memo to staff.

Safaricom makes up about 42 per cent of the wealth at the NSE as measured by market capitalization, and employs millions of Kenyans directly and indirectly. Its voice and mobile money networks are systematically important.

That’s what makes the health of its CEO, top employees and the board a matter of public interest.

Mr Kirubi, on the other hand, employs a lot of people and is a link to billions in foreign cash invested in the country—from Amu Power to Two Rivers Mall. He is a director and major shareholder of a public listed company.

Both listed firms have to a good extent recognised the importance of publicly disseminating critical information and acted appropriately. This best practice is borrowed from more mature markets.

Reporting on the illness of senior managers and board members helps to avoid speculation and negative impact on a listed company’s stock.

We urge listed firms to emulate the two firms. In fact the market regulator should make disclosure a regulatory requirement.