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BOC Kenya eyes regional market

NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 10 – Industrial gas supplier BOC Gas plans to intensify operations in the east African region, given the recent signing of the East African Common Markets protocol.

Making the statement, BOC Managing Director John Kariuki said, the common markets protocol gives the company an opportunity to focus on setting up production plants across east Africa.

This will see the company shift its strategy for the region from being distribution oriented.

“The opening up of the common markets is a good opportunity for us to expand our operations in terms of production rather than just focusing on distribution,” he said.

Mr Kariuki was however categorical the move would only materialise if there was steady demand in the region that warranted expansion.

In Tanzania BOC has operations in Mwanza, Arusha and Dar es Saalam supporting specific operations in mines, sugar mills and fabricators respectively.

Despite these operations, he said the market share in Tanzania was still relatively low owing to the cost of doing business, which has been steadily rising, making potential customers to look for cheaper alternatives.

“All the products we produce are out of Nairobi. If bottlenecks such as taxes are addressed it would make life much easier for us,” he said adding this would make then more price competitive.

BOC anticipates growth in its subsidiaries in Uganda and Tanzania as well as one off supplies to Rwanda and Southern Sudan where there has been steady demand for its products.

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Mr Kariuki also revealed the company was eying several selective acquisitions in the region to grow the business even further.

He could however not shed light which ones because of market regulations that prohibit a listed company from making such announcements without authorization.

“I think you appreciate that we just disengaged from the Carbacid transaction just a month ago so we are basically back on the drawing board and when the time is right we will let you know,” he explained.

Back in October BOC and Carbacid investments agreed to an out of court settlement after a failed takeover bid of Carbacid by BOC.

In 2005, BOC had expressed intreset in merging with Carbacid, a move that would have seen it become the majority shareholder in the company.

The bid was centred around enhancing carbondioxide exploration, which, the MD maintains is still on the cards.

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