Shareholder sues CMA over longer Kenya Airways stake trade freeze


Kenya Airways plane pictured at Kenya Airways Headquarters, Nairobi on June 13, 2023. PHOTO | BONFACE BOGITA | NMG

A Kenya Airways shareholder has challenged the extension of the suspension of the national carrier from trading at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) for another year.

The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) announced the extension of the trading freeze on KQ for an additional 12 months being the sixth time in a row.

Mr Mihr Samir Thakar says in the appeal filed at the Capital Markets Tribunal that the additional period is unreasonable and unjustified. The suspension of KQ's shares from trading has trapped mover 77,000 small investors who are unable to liquidate all or part of their portfolio should they wish to.

“That the respondent (CMA) erred in law and in fact by abusing a discretionary power which allows the respondent to suspend trading of shares in listed companies to protect shareholders and the general public,” he said in the appeal. The matter will be mentioned on January 25 for directions.

Mr Thakar said the regulator erred by extending the period without inviting the views of the general public and specifically shareholders while making such a huge pronouncement.

The trader claims the CMA is biased against minority investors holding shares at Kenya Airways.

“That the respondent erred in law by making a decision which was taken with an ulterior motive and purpose calculated to prejudice the legal rights of the appellant and other minority investors,” he said.

The national carrier’s shares were initially suspended from trading at the NSE in July 2020 after Members of Parliament began to review a law that would allow the government to take over the loss-making airline.

The second extension was made on September 4, 2020, as the NSE said the company was yet to finalise its operational and corporate restructure for eventual government buy-out, following the publication of the National Management Aviation Bill, 2020 on the 18th June 2020.

“Notice is hereby given on the extension of suspension from trading of Kenya Airways Plc shares. The extension of suspension seeks to enable the company to complete its operational and corporate restructure process,” said NSE in a statement on January 4.

“The extension of suspension from trading the company’s shares will remain in force for an additional 12 months, with effect from January 5, 2023,” the statement added.

Mr Thakar, says he owns shares at KQ and is an active trader on other counters at the NSE. He said he is aware that the government's interest to take over ownership of the airline did not exist apart from a lacklustre Bill that was introduced in Parliament in June 2020, but it later stalled.

He wants his appeal to be allowed.

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