Lawmaker Ndindi Nyoro has bought additional 5.2 million shares in Kenya Power, tightening his grip as the single largest individual shareholder in the near-monopoly electricity distributor.
Mr Nyoro raised his holding in the firm to 32.5 million shares, which is an equivalent of nearly 1.67 percent stake in the utility, at the end of June 2023 compared with 27.29 million in the same month last year, according to regulatory filings.
His current ownership in the struggling utility is valued at Sh48.75 million, with the additional purchases in the year ended June worth nearly Sh7.92 million.
Kenya Power shares have gained a modest 4.83 percent over the last year, closing trade on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) at Sh1.52 on Thursday compared with Sh1.45 per unit in August 2022.
Mr Nyoro, who chairs the Budget and Appropriations Committee in the National Assembly, said last September he started his investment journey in the equity market as a first-year student at Kenyatta University.
Kenya Power, which is among firms analysts say is undervalued on the NSE, is grappling with a weakening shilling, which has eaten into its earnings for the financial year ended June.
The State-controlled firm alerted investors in May that net earnings for the review year would fall by more than a quarter compared with Sh3.5 billion in the prior year.
The free-falling shilling has significantly increased the burden of paying commercial loans that are dollar-denominated and also the purchase of electricity, which is priced in the US currency.
The Kenyan currency lost about 18.20 percent of value against the greenback, according to official exchange rates, closing in June at 140.52 units from 118.89 units in July 2022.
Kenya Power posted a Sh1.1 billion net loss for the half year ended in December, blamed on the weak shilling and the 15 percent electricity tariff cut that was implemented in January 2022 under President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The power subsidies were scrapped by the William Ruto administration at the end of December.
The power distributor had estimated the loss in revenue arising from the tariff discount between January and December 2022 at Sh26 billion.
The firm’s revenues were further boosted in April after the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority approved increased electricity tariffs, the first since 2018, hitting middle-class households and small commercial consumers hardest.
For instance, households and businesses paid Sh1,320.50 on average to buy 50 kilowatts-hour (units) of electricity in July, 65.7 percent more than Sh796.83 in the prior year, according to the latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.