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The 2010 Company of the Year Awards in Kenya sponsored by the Kenya Institute of Management failed to recognise investor relations in its award criteria. This is at a time when there is no firm legislative environment and the Companies Bill 2008 has yet to be promulgated because Kenya’s legislators are very busy.

Companies have set their own standards of shareholder communications. This is not good because none of them are doing a good job in the regulatory vacuum. Kenyan companies are missing out on an opportunity to shine.

The winners of the Kenyan Companies of the Year Awards are:-

The criteria for the COYA awards are everything except investor relations. That’s all you need to know.

As you are aware the standards of corporate governance have regressed in Kenya because of the obligation of shareholders to locate their shareholder proxy materials rather than have their company obligated to provide them. It all started when Safaricom sought exemption from sending out annual reports to its shareholders and the regulators did not put in place a quid pro quo. That started a trend. An unnecessary one.

Companies are able to determine their own standards of shareholder communications and this means that the majority shareholder (the one with the votes) determines what this should be. Director ignorance and apathy and an uninformed public and some sleepy regulators means that listed companies in Kenya have a unique opportunity to shine in this area of governance.

It’s an opportunity lost.

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