East Africa: Safaricom Retains Top Position As East Africa's Most Valuable Firm

Nairobi — Kenya's listed telco Safaricom topped the region as the largest company by market capitalisation and net earnings yet again this year, even as the Covid-19 pandemic hit listed firms, wiping out shareholder earnings and pushing away foreign investors.

A survey on Africa's top 250 companies by South Africa's African Business Magazine had 17 East African companies valued at $20.2 billion (3.4 per cent of total market capitalisation of the companies surveyed). Last year, the list had 21 companies from the region, valued at $26.3 billion; four per cent of total market capitalisation.

According to the report released this week, Safaricom was ranked the most valuable company in the region, with a market capitalisation of $9.96 billion and a net income of $598 million. With $10 billion worth of market value, Safaricom was 10th position on the continent, up from 14th in last year's ranking.

Next in the Africa ranking were Tanzania Breweries Ltd at position 75, Equity Group Holdings (82), and the East African Breweries Ltd (90), valued at $1.39 billion, $1.16 billion and $1.08 billion respectively. KCB takes the fifth position in the region with a market capitalisation of $999 million, and position 92 in the overall ranking.

Other listed firms ranked in the top 10 in the region include Vodacom Tanzania, valued at $827 million, Tanzania Cigarette Company ($738 million), Co-operative Bank of Kenya ($690 million), Standard Chartered Kenya ($592 million) and NMB Bank ($508 million).

Kenya had 11 companies in the top 250 companies on the continent, three less than last year, and with their combined market capitalisation dropping to $16 billion from $21 billion.

Tanzania lost one entry from last year and was down to four companies, with Uganda remaining the same at two entries.

According to an analysis by Tom Minney, the chief executive of Mauritius-based consultancy firm African Growth Partners Ltd, capital outflows from Africa's frontier and emerging markets as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have crushed market valuations for many of the listed top 250 companies.

"It is estimated that investors have pulled out over $90 billion from emerging markets since the beginning of the pandemic, the largest capital outflow on record," Mr Minney said.

Vodacom Tanzania rose to position 98 from 135 last year, and Tanzania Cigarette Company climbed to position 105 from 146.

South Africa dominates the market capitalisation of this year's rankings as leading firms have expanded globally to grown their markets.

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