Uganda’s power distributor Umeme says it plans Nairobi and Uganda IPOs this year

Uganda’s only power distributor, Umeme, said it plans to raise capital to invest in Uganda’s electricity sector through an initial public offering (IPO) on the Ugandan and Nairobi securities exchanges later in 2012. Umeme is a distribution company and is 100% owned by private equity firm Actis, according to this report on Reuters.
The news came on 6 July at the switching of 5 turbines to add 50MW to the power grid as part of the $860 million Bujagali 250MW hydropower project, one of Africa’s largest power schemes. Umeme has a 20-year electricity distribution concession. Managing director Charles Chapman says the company has opted for the IPO as electricity is now available – Uganda had been suffering power cuts before Bujagali capacity was added – and there was agreement on regulatory targets.
The company would not say how much it hopes to raise and has not finalized plans for the IPO, but Reuters suggests it could be 20% of the shares. The report quotes Chapman: “The initial public offering (IPO) will support Umeme’s capital raising initiatives to finance the continued development of the electricity distribution network, including projects such as prepayment metering and energy loss reduction. We believe that Umeme will be stronger, more transparent and accountable with the input of our customers and employees as shareholders.”
He adds that customers are up to about 460,000 in 2011 from 354,839 in 2009. After power sector unbundling, power in Uganda is generated by the Uganda Electricity Generation Company and transmitted to Umeme by the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company.
According to this blog story, Umeme has already put in its application to the Capital Markets Authority in Uganda and has appointed Stanbic Bank (Uganda) as Transaction Advisor and African Alliance (Uganda) as Sponsoring Broker. Writer Angelo Izama comments: “The company is a safe investment given its monopoly and demand from customers. Many who worry about the risks it faces will look to political risk something to which we will return. Suffice to say that a great degree of the risk will likely be offset when the company lists given the divesting of its ownership to locals.”

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