, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 11 – British-American Investments Company (Britak) has rebranded to Britam ahead of its accelerated regional expansion plans and other strategic initiatives in the East African region.
The company, which has been known as Britak in Kenya for close to 30 years will retain its legal name of British American Investments Company (Kenya) Limited as listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange.
Britam Group Managing Director Benson Wairegi noted that the rebranding will help the company communicate in one language without losing the company values, as well as create a unified and cohesive culture across all business unites and countries of operation.
“We have decided to adopt what you’d call a monolithic brand; meaning a single brand which embraces one culture and one set of values,” he said.
“This is so that when you meet each of these companies as represented by the various members of staff and directors, they’ll espouse one culture. They’ll embrace and project the same values of respect, innovation and integrity,” he explained.
Wairegi revealed that the Sh3.6 billion the company raised last year in an Initial Public Offer will help launch subsidiaries in Rwanda, which will help accelerate the expansion efforts that have already resulted in operations in Uganda and South Sudan.
“The entire 3.6 billion shillings will be invested in the expansion program because that’s why we raised that money. In Uganda we put in Sh250 million and in South Sudan we’ve put in Sh200 million,” he revealed.
“There are huge investments in IT in excess of Sh1billion and we’re in the middle of implementing an IT strategy that will increase our operation efficiency,” he added.
The aggressive branch expansion is part of Britam’s efforts to take insurance and asset management closer to the public, by refurbishing and expanding eight branches and opening an additional four in the country.
The refurbishment process has begun in branches such as Westlands, AmBank House and Phoenix house in Nairobi, Eldoret, Kisumu, Embu, Nyeri, and Timau.
Britam will open an additional four branches in Bungoma, Machakos, Muranga and Nairobi as well as utilise industry advances such as bancassurance and micro insurance.
Wairegi expressed confidence that this branch expansion will help deepen the uptake of insurance and asset management services to the people of Kenya where the product penetration stands at two percent.
Britam is also planning a $100 million (Sh8.4 billion) private equity fund targeting investments in the East African region.
According to Managing Director of British American Asset Managers Edwin Dande, the firm’s investment management division will act as an investment advisor to the new fund, which will have a traditional private equity fund structure focusing exclusively on the property asset class.
Dande added that the fund would be focusing on providing affordable housing to the mid-income segment of the population in a bid to bridge the gap between supply and demand in the real estate sector.
“It targets taking advantage of the dynamics of the region. In Kenya’s move towards a devolved government, for instance, the planned fund sees opportunity through investment in three-star hotels in each of the country’s major counties,” he said.
He added that the fund would also be considering investments in commercial retail businesses, riding on the middle class in the region to meet increased demand in facilities such as malls and shopping centres closer to residential areas.
The launch of Britam comes at a time when the company has recovered from a turbulent economic environment, recording a profit before tax of Sh1.8 billion for the half year ending June 2012, as compared to a loss of Sh109.6 million reported during the same period last year.
The insurance business grew by 29 percent to Sh3.3 billion from Sh2.6 billion registered in the same period last year while investment income grew Sh2.6 billion compared to a Sh54.9 million loss in the first half of 2011.
British-American group has grown tremendously since its inception in Kenya in 1965, evolving over the years from a home service life insurance company to a diversified financial services group with insurance and asset management businesses.
The group now offers a wide range of products to individuals, small businesses, corporations and government entities.
The range of products includes life insurance, pensions, health insurance and general insurance through its insurance arm of the business, while financial solutions include unit trusts, investment planning, wealth management, off-shore investments, retirement planning and discretionary portfolio management.