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
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