The Social Security Fund of Rwanda (SSFR) received Rwf130 million (Ksh18.9 million) as dividends for the second year running by Safaricom, as part of returns on its equity investment in the Kenyan telecom operator.
In a move to diversify its investment across the region, SSFR invested $US7.6m (Rwf4.4b) during Safaricom’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 2007, where the Fund bought 96 million shares.
Safaricom’s net profits for the year ending March 2011 slid by 13.2 percent to Ksh13 billion (Rwf89.3 billion), down from Ksh15 billion (Rwf103.1 billion) in 2010.
The operator decided to hold investors’ take home steady at Ksh8 billion (Rwf55 billion) despite a drop in earnings. This represents 61 percent of the total profits or 20 cents per share.
Afrique Ramba, the Director General of SSFR told Business Times in a phone interview that the public pension fund is not worried about Safaricom dropping margins.
“SSFR is a long term investor not short term, Safaricom faced stiff competition in the market during the period leading to a drop in profits but they remain the giant operator in (the Kenyan) market.
Which puts us (in) a strong investment position,” Ramba explained.
He explained that while Safaricom’s shares at the Nairobi Stock Exchange are trading at Ksh4 per share, less than the Ksh5 when the Fund bought them, SSFR’s returns from the operator have remained stable.
SSFR’s revenues jumped to Rwf8.7 billion in the 3rd quarter of the financial year 2010/2011, 11 percent higher than the earlier projection of Rwf7.8 billion.
Safaricom is on course to establishing a more diversified revenue base away from voice calls that have been the key growth driver since the company was founded 10 years ago, according to its financial statement.