The Uganda Securities Exchange has halted the trading of New Vision Printing and Publishing Company Limited, a company whose majority shareholder is the government of Uganda.
In a letter signed by the Uganda Securities Exchange Chief Executive Officer Paul Bwiso, the suspension takes effect today, February 11. Bwiso says that the decision was taken to pave way for an expedited evaluation of recent trading activity which resulted in a sporadic share
price decline on the New Vision counter.
New Vision Shares which were selling at 551 Shillings in August 2016, dropped to 314 Shillings per share in January 2021 and further to 165 Shillings in January 2022, until they fell to the all-time low of 57 Shillings per share by February 2022.
“All market participants are hereby notified of a security halt on the New Vision…until further notice. The Exchange in keeping its mandate to ensure fair, transparent, orderly and efficient market, has imposed a security halt on the NVL counter as it conducts an expedited evaluation of recent activity which resulted in a sporadic price decline,” Bwiso’s letter reads in part.
The letter also asks participants to notify their clients about the halting. It also asks them to continue observing the trading rules and market conduct obligations. Efforts to speak to Bwiso by press time were futile as he didn’t pick nor return repeated calls to his number.
New Vision Printing and Publishing Company is registered as a public limited liability company engaged in multi-Media business. It was listed on the Uganda Securities Exchange in November 2004 with the issuance of 51,000,000 ordinary shares of a value of 19.66 per share giving an aggregate nominal capital of 1,002,660,000 Shillings.
At the time, New Vision became the fifth local company to conduct an initial public offer in the Uganda Capital Market. In 2008, the Company undertook a rights issue which increased the Company’s ordinary shares to 76,500,000 of 19.66 Shillings each and share capital of 1,503,990,000 Shillings.
The company which owns a number of media outlets like New Vision Newspaper, Bukedde newspaper, Bukedde TV, Bukedde Radio among others has been going through tough times. Last year, its former Chief Executive Officer Robert Kabushenga told shareholders that the company had not made any profits and thus they wouldn’t get any dividends.
The majority shareholders are the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development with a collective holding of 53.3 per cent. The public holds the remaining 46.7 per cent.
Don Wanyama, the Executive Director of New Vision said that they were also surprised by the decision. “We heard that there was some kind of irregular trading but you have to speak to the Uganda Securities Exchange to know exactly what happened,” Wanyama said.
According to the 2020 annual report of the Uganda Securities Exchange, the Financial Markets industry was greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as investors sought safer havens and more guaranteed returns considering the higher risk presented from the impact of the pandemic. Major global stock market indices registered large declines in Q1 2020 when the pandemic was at its peak. The report also points to a notable slowdown in trading turnover during the year as most foreign investors opted away from the equities market into fixed income markets and other global markets which were closer to home and less risky.