Shares worth Sh10.4 billion have been surrendered by Fifteen companies listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), to the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA) in the past 12 months accentuating the extent of wealth whose owners cannot be found.
The wealth which translates to 95 million shares comes from owners who have not communicated with the companies or claimed their dividends for more than three years.
Listed investment firm Centum surrendered the highest number of shares, 51 million, worth an estimated Sh2.1 billion at the current trading price of Sh42.25 per share.
The control of the surrendered shares means the UFAA now has a 7.7 per cent stake in the company.
Beer maker East African Breweries Limited also submitted 16,328,031 or two per cent of its issued shares worth Sh4.8 billion while cigarette manufacturer BAT surrendered 1,018,535 units worth Sh840 million.
Two listed banks submitted shares worth Sh993 million, one insurer Sh625 million while two agricultural firms gave up stocks worth Sh508 million.
There are 64 listed companies, indicating the level of compliance remains below a quarter of the total and that the amount could more than triple at full compliance.
The authority has a year to search for the owners of the shares or their beneficiaries, if deceased, after which they can be sold at the prevailing market rates.
“We are in the process of opening a Central Depository System Corporation account to hold the shares,” the authority’s chief executive, Kellen Kariuki, said.
Companies are also required to submit unclaimed dividends associated with the surrendered shares, underlining the bulk of idle resources in the country.
The UFAA has put up a website to help citizens search for their lost wealth with the authority and lay claim to it within the period provided.
The UFAA Act terms unclaimed shares as those whose dividends have not been collected for more than three years and the issuing company has no information on the whereabouts of the owner.
The Act applies to listed and unlisted companies.
The authority has started charging penalties on companies that failed to file returns for unclaimed assets in their custody.
In addition to the stock market shares, the UFAA has received more than Sh6 billion in cash from companies such as banks, which account for 65 per cent of the surrendered cash.