IPO Fever Shows Kenya is Recovering

Thousands line up to buy into delayed Safaricom offering
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2008 1:24 PM CDT
A man talks on a mobile phone while standing next to a huge Safaricom bill board after the launch of the Initial Public Offer (IPO) shares in Nairobi 28 March 2008.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – When Safaricom, Kenyan’s partially state-owned cellular giant, went public, Kenyans lined up by the thousands to buy in—a generally good sign for a country recently wracked by paralyzing ethnic violence, the Wall Street Journal reports. Safaricom’s IPO itself had been delayed by post-election clashes, but now the country’s economic boom appears back on track.

Politics looked like they might intrude on the offering again last month, when opposition leader Raila Odinga called for a protest over a minor shareholder in the company. But Odinga was generally ignored by masses flocking to buy shares. While Safaricom looks solid, some worry poor Kenyans are going IPO-crazy. “People can end up losing all their finances,” one expert cautioned.