The article below from www.ratio-magazine.com, a highly recommended read is good news for Kenyan shareholders. But why are shareholders paying and not listed companies? This is unheard of. Please correct me.

Registrar Unveils Online Shareholder Access Service

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Tuesday, 13 April 2010
Nairobi, 13 April 2010Kenya’s stock market will draw more investor confidence by eradicating cases of dividend cheque interception, forgery and losses currently experienced by shareholders as well as addressing their need for constant access to accurate information. This will be possible using a new shareholder access and information service unveiled today by leading registrar Custody and Registrar Services (C&R).

Known as SharePower, the system has two capabilities: online access, called “Sharepower Online”, and mobile phone access, similarly named “SharePower Mobile”.

Addressing journalists during the launch demonstration today, C&R Chief Executive Officer Collen Tapfumaneyi said that SharePower was a solution that responded to the myriad challenges that shareholders and investors faced in the process of managing their stock market investments.

As a technological solution developed to manage information distribution and access, Sharepower also provided C&R with great latitude to innovate convenient services for the market. “We have recognized the power of high technology in solving the problems that our capital markets players face and as a progressive business have invested massively in this system which has a huge capability for value added services for listed companies and their investors,” he explained.

“Cases of interception of dividend cheques, forgery and fraudulent encashment have been on the rise in recent years and we want to curb that trend by providing vulnerable shareholders with a mechanism to be better informed since timeliness of dividend updates and accuracy of contact address information has been common factors in these situations.”

He noted that with SharePower, shareholders will have access to information on company diaries, including being individually informed immediately when a company pays a dividend, publishes results and makes any special announcements.  This will provide shareholders with the information capacity to enable better dividends management by investors.

Timely, cost effective and secure access to portfolio information will be a strong benefit to shareholders, saving shareholders the cost and time of contacting the registrar to enquire about these issues, which have a direct impact on the security and accuracy of their portfolio management.

With this new technology, shareholders only need to have access to their mobile phones or the internet to make enquiries about their portfolio.   For a minimal membership fee of KES300 per annum, registered users of the Share Power Online can access information on the status of their details such as portfolio balances, transaction history and check the accuracy of their standing orders, electronic funds transfer mandates and contact details. SharePower Mobile is a transactional based service where shareholders will also be able to query account balances dividend and certificates status, name and address details as well as receive alerts about dividend announcements and payment dates.  Each enquiry will be charged at KES10 per SMS.

SharePower’s launch in Kenya is the first of its kind in sub Saharan Africa and follows in the steps of global trends where the Internet and mobile phone are increasingly being used as channels of information, access and distribution for capital markets players.   With a substantial investment into this technology, C&R has provided a strong platform to its shareholders to enable better management of their shareholdings.

For listed companies, the rise in shareholder population inevitably results in the rise in the cost of maintaining investor relations. Embracing electronic communication facilities such as Sharepower therefore helps manage shareholder communication costs, while bringing convenience to shareholders. Sharepower will help listed companies take advantage of legislative changes being made to allow electronic distribution of annual reports.

Tapfumaneyi said that three blue chip companies had already signed up for the service. “Nation Media Group, Centum Investments and NIC Bank have confirmed their shareholders can start using the SharePower system. Several of the other listed companies whose registers C&R manages are at various stages of signing up their share registers for this technology,” he confirmed.

Confirming the partnership, Nation Media Group Company Secretary, James Kinyua said; “As a progressive business we have always maintained that the use of technology offers unprecedented methods of resolving age old problems. Our shareholder register is no exception. To this extent we opted for NMG to join SharePower because we believe that the effective administration of our shareholders register is a core part of our investor relations responsibility. Furthermore the current legislative environment allows us to communicate with shareholders using both manual and electronic means. We see SharePower playing a critical role in providing the electronic option and expect that in the short to medium term we will accrue savings on our administration costs.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by James Mworia Centum Investment Chief Executive Officer who noted that, “Our shareholders will now have easy access to information on their shareholder details conveniently, securely, in real time and cost effectively.”C&R CEO Collen

Tapfumaneyi further explained that a core part of C&R’s corporate strategy was to remain at the forefront of offering innovative and modern services through state of the art information and communication technology for its dominant share registry business as well as for developing business process outsourcing and company secretarial services.

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