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Companies

Centum defies profit drop, raises payout to Sh800m

Centum Investments group CEO James Mworia. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Centum Investments group CEO James Mworia. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Centum #ticker:ICDC has increased dividend payout to shareholders by a fifth to nearly Sh800 million, braving a 16.5 per cent drop in profit for the financial year ended March.

The Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) #ticker:NSE listed firm Tuesday announced a Sh1.6 billion fall in full-year after-tax profit to Sh8.31 billion, attributing it to lower earnings from asset disposal.

The Sh1.20 per share dividend pay, which adds up to Sh798.5 million, is an increase from Sh1 per share or Sh665.44 million paid in 2016.

Group chief executive James Mworia said the company is banking on more exit deals this year to reverse the 81 per cent drop in earnings from disposal, which stood at Sh1.03 billion as at March 2017 compared to Sh5.41 billion the previous year.

“We have more exits lined up this year, but I can’t comment on them much now. As you know. It takes time to close a deal,” said Mr Mworia while announcing the results.

Centum made two disposals last year. It sold its entire 26.43 per cent stake in Kenya Wine Agencies Ltd to South African brewer Distell realising a gain of Sh1.1 billion and sold an eight per cent stake in Platinum Credit, a non-deposit taking micro-financier, booking a gain of Sh432 million.

Sidian Bank

Performance was also depressed by lower earnings from Centum’s banking subsidiary Sidian Bank, whose profit margins were cut by the interest rate cap regime.

The asset management units — GenAfrica Asset Managers and wholly-owned Nabo Capital — recorded a 27 drop in earnings due to lower income from the markets.

In the period to March 2016, Centum earned Sh3.2 billion in gains from selling a 50 per cent stake in Two Rivers mall, Sh900 million from sale of its entire 21.5 per cent stake in insurance broker Aon, and another Sh800 million in disposing of a portfolio of listed securities.

Mr Mworia said Centum is now eyeing horticulture, education, healthcare and real estate as the next growth frontiers.

The firm invested $8.4 million last year to buy a 14,000-acre farm in Masindi, Uganda, where it plans to grow maize and soya beans and venture into agro-processing such as maize flour milling and animal feed processing.

Centum declined to disclose details of a deal it has signed with a global healthcare company to build a major hospital and a chain of medical clinics and laboratories across Kenya.

The company said it had made partial impairment for the Sh650 million held by its subsidiary Two Rivers Development Ltd in collapsed Chase Bank.

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