By JAMES ANYANZWA and NJIRAINI MUCHIRA
Shareholders of the Standard Group have applauded the significant growth achieved by the company in recent years and called on the management to put in place measures to sustain the momentum.
The shareholders, who were speaking during the company’s 94th Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Standard Group Centre, noted the steady growth that has seen turnover increase from Sh1.9 billion in 2005 to Sh3.5 billion last year is a sign that the company is on the right path.
“The company has recorded promising growth. As shareholders, we expect more growth this year particularly being an election year,” said Nzau Jones, a shareholder.
However, the shareholders called on the management to direct extra energy on the broadcast division of the Group, in light of a difficult operating environment last year.
“It will not be business as usual on the broadcast side because we cannot allow one side of the business to undermine the other,” Group Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Paul Melly assured shareholders.
“We are making efforts to grow the various segments of the business despite operating in an environment marked by high interest rates and increasing competition,” he said.
Melly said the high interest rates were undermining the ability of companies to meet their financing obligations, and called on the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to consider lowering the level of interest rates to avoid increased incidences of default.
“The exchange rate has stabilised and inflation has come down. We now expect the CBK to ease pressure on interest rates by reducing the lending rate. Anything short of this will undermine economic growth.”
During the AGM, the shareholders approved a bonus issue of one share for every 10 held. This will enhance the capacity of shareholders to profit from increased future dividends and improved cash flow from those willing to liquidate their positions.