Cen­tum bets big on AfDB for­mer boss to raise funds for its big-ticket projects

The firm has ven­tured out into re­new­able en­ergy projects with a keen eye on op­por­tu­ni­ties in ed­u­ca­tion, and has part­nered with Chi­nese com­pa­nies

The Star (Kenya) - - News - CON­STANT MUNDA @munda­con­stant

Cen­tum In­vest­ments Group is bank­ing on the ex­pe­ri­ence of for­mer African De­vel­op­ment Bank pres­i­dent Don­ald Kaberuka to drive the com­pany’s in­vest­ment strat­egy in big-ticket in­fra­struc­ture projects.

The Nairobi Se­cu­ri­ties Ex­change listed firm, the coun­try’s largest, yes­ter­day ap­pointed Kaberuka its chair­man, barely a month since he joined the board on Oc­to­ber 11.

He re­places James Mc­fie, the Strath­more Univer­sity ac­count­ing man­age­ment lec­turer, who has been serv­ing in an act­ing ca­pac­ity

“We wish to in­form you … that the board of di­rec­tors of the com­pany has ap­pointed Dr Don­ald Kaberuka to serve as chair­man of the board with im­me­di­ate ef­fect,” Cen­tum chief ex­ec­u­tive James Mwo­ria said in a note to in­vestors through the NSE on Tues­day.

The firm, con­trolled 24.05 per cent by bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man Chris Kirubi, has ven­tured out into re­new­able en­ergy projects with a keen eye on op­por­tu­ni­ties in ed­u­ca­tion.

The firm will be bank­ing on Kaberuka’s ex­pe­ri­ence in fund­ing cap­i­tal-in­ten­sive in­fra­struc­ture projects dur­ing his 10-year ten­ure at AfDB, to help raise cash for its projects.

Cen­tum has a stake in the $2 bil­lion (Sh203 bil­lion), 981.5MW coal ther­mal power plant in Lamu, which it co-owns with Gulf En­ergy and a con­sor­tium of Chi­nese firms un­der in­vest­ment ve­hi­cle Amu Power. The Chi­nese com­pa­nies in the joint-ven­ture are China Hua­dian Cor­po­ra­tion Power Op­er­a­tion Com­pany, Sichuan Elec­tric Power De­sign and Con­sult­ing Com­pany, and Sichuan Power Con­struc­tion Com­pany.

Cen­tum owns a 37.5 per cent stake in Aki­ira Geo­ther­mal Ltd, which in April signed a power pur­chase agree­ment with Kenya Power for planned gen­er­a­tion of 70 megawatts of elec­tric­ity at a cost of Sh1.4 bil­lion in the next two years.

The an­nounce­ment came on the day Cen­tum re­ported its net earn­ings for six months through Septem­ber rose by 7.86 per cent to Sh2.06 bil­lion.

The com­pany said prof­itabil­ity was driven by in­creased rev­enues from ac­qui­si­tion of Longhorn Pub­lish­ers and re­duced fi­nance costs.

Fi­nance costs fell by more than a third, de­clin­ing by 33.24 per cent to Sh945.64 mil­lion on re­duced for­eign ex­change losses on US dol­lar-de­nom­i­nated loans and cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion of in­ter­est dur­ing the con­struc­tion of the Two-Rivers mixed-use real es­tate project.

Mwo­ria said the com­pany de­ployed Sh5 bil­lion in debt and eq­uity be­tween April and Septem­ber. Cen­tum’s as­sets rose by 10.03 per cent to Sh85.88 bil­lion. “We are ac­tive in real es­tate, fi­nan­cial ser­vices, fast mov­ing con­sumer goods, en­ergy and agribusi­ness.”


For­mer African De­vel­op­ment Bank pres­i­dent Don­ald Kaberuka at a past func­tion

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