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Troubled ARM gets more time to release results amid buyout process

ARM Athi River plant
ARM Athi River plant. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) has granted troubled Nairobi bourse #NSE listed ARM Cement #ticker:ARM further extension to report its financials, the company, which is under administration, announced on Thursday.

ARM, which is in the midst of buyout plans, now has until June 30, 2019 or before to announce its results for the financial year ended 31 December 2018, a two-month extension.

“The administrators have taken steps to address the challenges that have occasioned the expected delays in publication of the audited financial statements,” said the company.

“The company expects the financial statements to be signed off by the auditors on or before 30 June 2019.”

ARM joins at least five listed firms which have breached the deadline for releasing financial statements after getting approval from CMA.

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By the end of April, the regulator had allowed six firms including Crown Paints Kenya, Home Afrika, East African Cables, Liberty Kenya Holdings and TransCentury to delay the release of their results.

Adequate room

CMA director of operations Wycliffe Shamiah has linked the extensions to providing adequate room for the firms to conclude negotiations with prospective strategic investors or sort out differences with their auditors.

The CMA gives listed firms four months after the end of a financial year to publish results, timelines that are aimed at helping shareholders and potential investors make informed decisions.

“When these companies are audited and their financial positions are released in that form, you are likely to see a very distorted financial picture of the real financial position because auditors will want to see evidence. And if you are still in discussion you will not have anything to show,” Mr Shamiah said earlier on Wednesday.

Investors of ARM Cement are also faced with another longer wait to know the fate of the manufacturer, which is set for acquisition.

George Weru, an executive with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and one of ARM’s administrators, recently moved to quell mounting anxiety among investors on the buy-out fate of the company.

Buyout in "few weeks"

ARM had said in early April that the sale process of the firm was underway and would be closed “in a few weeks,” signalling that it would be concluded by the end of the month.

“There is no delay,” Mr Weru told Business Daily a fortnight ago. “This is a complex transaction involving various companies in multiple jurisdictions and many stakeholders as well so the current engagement with the bidders and consultations with stakeholders is not unusual.”

He added that firms seeking to acquire ARM Cement had submitted their final bids and PwC will announce the winning offer "soon".

“We are in the process of evaluating a number of binding offers which involves engagement with the bidders. We aim to conclude this process in the next few weeks,” he said.

Investors are keenly eyeing the sale process of the firm, which collapsed under a heavy debt load.

Large losses

It remains to be seen if ARM’s shareholders, who suffered large losses from the company’s stock rout, will get any cash in the buyout.

ARM shares remain suspended until mid-August.

A bid for the whole company will give the successful acquirer an instant presence in the local and regional cement market, with a need to spend more than Sh2 billion to upgrade the company’s factories.

It emerged last year that Nigeria’s Dangote Cement, owned by Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote, was among bidders of the troubled firm.

The buyout would offer a bargain and smooth entry for Dangote into the Kenyan market.

ARM operations in Kenya include a clinker and cement grinding plants in Kaloleni and Athi River.

It also makes, imports and sells cement in Rwanda through its subsidiary Kigali Cement Company.

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