January 30, 2014

Synovate Bosses Risk Jail

Maggie Ireri, Ipsos Synovate Kenya Managing Director
Maggie Ireri, Ipsos Synovate Kenya Managing Director

Jail terms and hefty billions of shilling in fines for failure to seek regulatory approval of the firm’s acquisition of its predecessor Synovate.

The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) says French firm Ipsos did not seek its approval when it acquired Synovate’s operations in four countries including Uganda and Kenya in October 2011. Ipsos-Synovate Kenya is the mother firm of Ipsos-Synovate Uganda based in Nakasero, Kampala.

The acquisition created the world’s third-largest global market research company, with the Ugandan unit continuing to dominate research covering politics, consumer markets, and corporate intelligence.

The watchdog has the mandate to review the impact of cross-border transaction on whether a deal will cause negative competition and hurt consumers.

Ipsos bought the entire stock of Synovate whose Kenyan unit remains the largest research firm in the country, exposing itself to regulatory action for failure to notify CAK.

Ipsos last year filed a case in the UK suing Synovate’s owner, claiming they inflated profits and failed to disclose tax and fraud probes in the company before selling it.

The Paris-based firm said it was seeking as much as $100 million (Sh25 billion) from Aegis — Synovate’s major shareholder prior to the buyout — saying it would have paid less than the £525 million it did.

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