KQ revives Sh1.5bn rights issue plan for small investors

Kenya Airways has revived plans to implement a rights issue by selling new shares to small investors at a huge discount.

The transaction was earlier estimated to raise more than Sh1.5 billion.

The national carrier remained silent as the deadline for the cash call was breached in March but now says it plans to proceed with the transaction.

“A rights issue was approved to be offered to the diluted existing shareholders. Plans for the issue are currently ongoing,” KQ, as the airline is known by its international code, says in its latest annual report.

The company’s retail investors were diluted 95 per cent besides their number of shares being reduced by a factor of four as part of efforts to rescue the airline from collapse.

The Government and a consortium of local banks also converted their combined debt of Sh58.7 billion ($587.6 million) into equity at a price of Sh2.13 per share.

KQ said the rights issue (alternatively dubbed the open offer) —in which the Government and the banks are barred from participating — would be one of the final steps in the balance sheet restructuring.

The company said the shares will be sold to small investors at a price below which the major shareholders converted their debt, implying an unprecedented discount of more than 40 percent against current market price of Sh3.50.

The open offer will be made to existing retail investors but they will have to apply for the new shares before they qualify to buy the stocks or acquire the rights to transfer them to other investors.