, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 13 – Uchumi shares began trading on Uganda Securities Exchange (USE) on Wednesday after the retail chain got approval from authorities to cross-list its 265,426,614 ordinary shares at a price to be determined by the market.
Uchumi Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Ciano says the chain’s board is motivated by the conviction that there is good potential in the Ugandan market.
Ciano said that the leadership was keen to see the emergence of regional institutions that would support and give credibility to the East African economic integration.
“We bring to this market a very good stock backed by strong business fundamentals. I encourage investors in this market to take advantage of this opportunity to own a piece of one of East Africa’s largest indigenous retail chain,” Ciano said.
Ringing the bell to mark the start of trading in the new shares, Ugandan Prime Minister Patrick Mbabazi says the move comes on the eve of several regional integration efforts which are key focus areas of the capital markets in the region.
“I would like to thank the management and board of Uchumi Supermarket for taking the decision to list the company on the USE. Our stock market has been greatly supported by Kenyan companies which now constitute half of the listed companies on the USE,” stated Mbabazi.
Uchumi entered the Ugandan market in 2002 and has so far established five operational branches in Uganda with the sixth branch planned for opening at the end of this month in Mbale municipality.
“Alongside that dream to set up a viable business in Uganda, we felt the urgent need to give East Africans the opportunity to share in the success of our business, mainly because we see Uchumi as the organization with the heritage and capacity to belong to and appeal to the people of this region. Today’s ceremony is a culmination of that dream to bring one of East Africa’s largest retail chains to East African investors,” said Ciano.
Uchumi will become the 16th company to be listed on the USE and joins other Kenyan companies including Kenya Airways, East African Breweries, Kenya Commercial Bank, Equity Bank, Nation Media Group, Centum Investment Company, and Jubilee Holdings.
The company is implementing the cross-listing simultaneously in the Uganda Securities Exchange, Rwanda Securities Exchange, and the Dar-es-Salaam Stock Exchange.
“We successfully cross-listed Uchumi shares at the Rwanda Securities Exchange on October 14th, 2013. The Dar-es-Salaam project is advancing well and we hope to close all regulatory issues and conduct a similar ceremony there in the very near future” Ciano said.
The company will also be seeking more funds through a rights issue to finance its regional growth and expansion programmes, which Ciano says would be open to the new investors as well.