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Uchumi smells out strategic partner

NAIROBI, May 5 – Retail supermarket chain Uchumi is finally on track in its bid to seek a strategic partner.

Specialised Receiver and Manager Jonathan Ciano said the chain would be advertising for the position next week in the hope that the partner would be on board by October this year.

Ciano said the offer would be open to both local and foreign investors with the appetite for a particular investment range.

He added that the chain is interested in a partner in the form of either a consortium or an individual investor with reported returns of at least Sh500 million or maybe less, depending on the circumstances.

“Why we have put it this way, is because what you want from one group may be different from the other,” he said.

Ciano stated that international supermarket operators have also not been left out.

“We have not placed our hearts into saying the preference in the strategic partner is this or the other.”

“This will depend on the applications of those who will show interest in the beautiful girl called Uchumi,” the manager added.

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Ciano said the search for a strategic investor would be conducted in two stages, with the first being the prequalification stage and the second – the bidding process.

During a media briefing on Monday, Ciano said the supermarket had a Sh800 million debt, which it intended to clear with the extra capital from the strategic investor.

The supermarket owes an extra Sh170 million in unsecured debt.

Uchumi has so far paid out Sh9 billion to cover its debts as part of its recovery process since they got into receivership, according to the receiver.

Meanwhile, Ciano said the chain has recorded a Sh60 million after-tax profit for the last quarter of 2007.

“In the last nine months we have managed a profit of Sh113 million compared to a Sh247 million loss recorded in the previous one year,” he said.


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