SportPesa denies outright Nairobi IPO rumours

Ronald Karauri, Chief Executive of Kenyan betting group SportPesa has moved to quash rumours that his firm will seek an IPO in 2019.

On Thursday, citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg and Reuters Africa reported that Karauri and SportPesa investors were planning to list Kenya’s leading bookmaker as a Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) enterprise.

Speculation had mounted within the Kenyan business community as SportPesa was reported to have hired private equity firm Kestrel Capital as its strategic advisor.

With reported corporate revenues of KSH 100 billion shillings ($1 billion) per year, SportPesa would have likely made the top 10 enterprises listed on the Nairobi exchange.

The news of SportPesa pursuing a Nairobi IPO, had caught the attention of East African business commentators, as the Nairobi exchange has not seen a corporate IPO since August 2016.

Furthermore, fast-growth SportPesa would be the only technology-centric enterprise listed on the limited 63 company exchange.

Responding to speculation, SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri declared a firm no with regards to maintaining any IPO plans. New advisor Kestrel, released a communication stating that it did not comment on client matters.

Following months of protest, this September the Uhuru Kenyatta government stated that it would not pursue its implementation of 35% blanket tax charge on all forms of gambling.

Instead, the government will maintain its 15% duty on operators while charging a new 20% tax on consumer winnings.

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