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Kenyan investment firm aims for Sh30b base

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 5 – Centum Investment Company Limited is seeking to grow its asset base to Sh30 billion by 2014.

Managing Director James Mworia said this will be done through growing the firm’s private equity, real estate and infrastructure businesses as it looks to diversify its investment portfolio.

“We target to raise about Sh5billion to Sh8 billion in third party funds. Debt (market borrowing) is going to be approximately 20 percent of assets under management because our target is to be very prudent and not over leverage the balance sheet of the company,” he said.

The firm’s assets are currently valued at Sh9.3 billion as a result of a 165 percent increase in income from its investments in its 2009 financial year.

Centum has invested in a number of stocks on the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE), which form the bulk of its portfolio, including Safaricom, British American Tobacco, Kenya Airways, Barclays Bank, East African Breweries, CMC Motors and Carbacid.

It holds stakes in private companies like NAS Airport Services, UAP Insurance, K-Rep Bank, General Motors, AON Minet Insurers, and Nairobi Bottlers among others which makes up Sh5.5 billion in private equity for Centum.

The MD said Centum still hoped to grow its assets before the 2014 deadline given the firms strategy of focusing on blue chip companies.

Mr Mworia said there would be a bias in growing the real estate and infrastructure portfolios given the level of development activities in the country.

He said their real estate arm would control 20 percent of the increased assets bringing it to Sh20 billion from the current Sh100 million.

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“This is an area we feel supply outstrips demand and our position as a master developer is something that has not really been exploited and we don’t have any of the major developers looking at that space,” he said.

“Our focus is to give investors access to inaccessible investments,” he added.

The increased financial base is expected to give the firm the muscle to continue outperforming the NSE as one of its core strategies to give shareholders higher returns.

In its 2008-2009 year, Centum outperformed the NSE by 13 percent generating a return of 56 percent to the shareholders.

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