Renewal of chair’s term paves the way for Centum hearing

Nairobi Governor Dr Evans Kidero (R) and Jinaro
Nairobi Governor Dr Evans Kidero (R) and Jinaro Kibet converse at a past function. Mr Kibet, whose term ended early this month, has been given a fresh three-year mandate by Treasury secretary Henry Rotich. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

The term of Capital Markets Authority tribunal chairman has been renewed, paving the way for the hearing and determination of a dispute pitting investment company Centum against two British brothers over the proposed buyout of plantations firm Rea Vipingo.

Jinaro Kipkemoi Kibet, whose term ended early this month, has been given a fresh three-year mandate by Treasury secretary Henry Rotich, according to a notice published on Friday. The renewal of his tenure means the tribunal – a quasi-judicial body that has powers similar to those of a High Court – now has quorum, allowing it to take up the dispute after months of stasis.

The tribunal met for the first time in late August 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 was set for October 6 to confirm whether all parties have filed their affidavits. The quorum for the tribunal comprises of a chairman and two members.

The tribunal had only two members when the Centum Rea Vipingo dispute was filed – the chairman and member George Karwenji Kibira – before Mr Rotich appointed two other members in July. But the appointment of Laila Macharia and financial consultant Karen Kandie 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 multibillion-shilling takeover dispute.

Mr Kibet’s first appointment for a three-year tenure was handed by then acting Finance minister Njeru Githae effective September 1, 2011. His fresh mandate now sets the stage for resolution of the Rea Vipingo dispute.

Takeover rules

Centum moved to the tribunal to oppose the planned takeover of sisal producer Rea Vipingo by the Robinow brothers — who already control 57.04 per cent of the sisal producer through Rea Trading Company. The investment firm argues that the offer by the Robinow brothers of Sh70 per share plus a conditional top-up of up to Sh15 per share from future disposal of the firm’s land violates takeover rules.

Centum’s bid stands at Sh75 per share, with the firm already being a minority shareholder with a 4.9 per cent stake or 296,500 units of the agricultural firm’s stock.

The dispute filed with the tribunal is the climax of a bidding war that followed the Robinows’ initial offer last year to buy out other Rea Vipingo shareholders at Sh40 per share. Centum initially responded with a takeover offer of Sh50 per share, with the two rivals revising their offers upwards to the current levels.

Another aggressive bidder, Vania Investment Pool, was locked out of the acquisition when it tried to belatedly raise its buyout price to Sh80 in March from the initial Sh55 in December.