Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

A South African-based company, Dimension Data, has acquired a 51 per cent stake in the Sameer-owned ICL East Africa, the leading provider of information technology systems in the East African region.

The acquisition for an undisclosed sum will see Dimension Data, which is also known as Didata, establish a major foothold in the region at a time when liberalisation of the IT sector has led to unprecedented growth and diversification of services.

Following the acquisition, Didata will launch parallel companies in all three East African countries - Dimension Data Kenya, Dimension Data Tanzania and Dimension Data Uganda - with the regional headquarters being in Nairobi.

Together with mobile-phone provider Celtel, where Sameer holds a substantial stake, ICL is the high technology end of the Sameer Group conglomerate.

With a staff complement of over 60, ICL is one of Kenya's leading IT firms, with a client base that includes Barclays Kenya, Celtel, Telkom Kenya, Standard Chartered Bank, Nestle Foods and Coca-Cola East and Central Africa. The company has partnerships with leading global IT providers including Fujitsu-Siemens, SUN, IBM Hardware, Cisco, 3COM, Oracle and Microsoft.

Didata, on the other hand, is a South African giant with 1,800 employees in its home country and another 7,000 in 36 others, making it by far the most successful African IT company.

The latest rationalisation of the Sameer Group's holdings comes in the wake of reports last week that the conglomerate was keen to acquire Uganda's Dairy Corporation Ltd from the government. If successful, the buy-out will strengthen Sameer's interests in the livestock sector, which are currently handled by the Nairobi Stock Exchange-listed Sasini Tea and Coffee.

Last week, tyre manufacture Sameer Africa, in which the Sameer Group holds a 69.5 per cent stake, announced its intention to soon cross-list on the Tanzanian and Ugandan bourses. A successful cross-listing will make Sameer only the third Kenyan company to do so.

"We have just had discussions with (Ugandan authorities) and have started the process," Sameer Africa's managing director Eric Kimani was quoted by Reuters as saying on the cross-listing. "We are looking towards listing at the end of this year."

Other than ICL, Sasini and Sameer Africa, the Sameer Group also partly owns the mobile phone firm Celtel.

The East African