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Centum raises board profile with Uganda AG pick

Centum Investment chief executive James Mworia. PHOTO | FILE
Centum Investment chief executive James Mworia. PHOTO | FILE 

Centum Investment has appointed high-profile directors including Uganda’s Attorney-General William Byaruhanga and former African Development Bank president Donald Kaberuka (Rwandan) to its board, signalling an intention to use cross-country networks to grow its business.

The other new directors in the expanded 11-member board include former CMC Holdings acting CEO Mary Ngige and AIG Kenya Insurance managing director Catherine Igathe who were elected to fill vacancies created by retirement of former chairman James Muguiyi and the Industrialisation PS.

The Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm voted to add two new board positions, a move that led to the entry of Dr Kaberuka and Mr Byaruhanga.

“The board at its next meeting will pick the chairperson,” chief executive James Mworia told the Business Daily in an interview.

Centum’s board is currently led by the deputy chairman, Dr James McFie, awaiting the appointment of Mr Muguiyi’s replacement.

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Centum said it has picked the foreign directors to reflect its pan-African expansion plans.

Besides their corporate skills, the foreign directors are expected to benefit Centum from their local market knowledge and connections in their respective countries.

Dr Kaberuka, who also served as Rwanda’s Finance minister, is currently the African Union High representative for the Peace Fund and board member of World Economic Forum board of trustees among other international organisations. He holds a PhD in economics from University of Glasgow, Scotland.

Mr Byaruhanga was appointed the Attorney-General of Uganda in June, having previously served as the principal partner at Kasirye, Byaruhanga and Company Advocates where he focused on investments and corporate finance law.

Centum currently operates in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The company in a joint venture with Sabis education network and Investbridge Capital is set to build a chain of schools in several African countries including Egypt in the medium term. Its asset management units buy marketable securities including equities in more African countries including Nigeria.

The new independent Kenyan directors will also help to drive Centum’s growth strategy drawing from their corporate experience, with Ms Ngige having held the position of senior manager at Deloitte Touche, among others. She holds a Masters of Business Administration from Strathmore Business School.

Ms Igathe, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from United States International University-Africa, previously served as general manager at AIG Kenya.

Besides strengthening the board’s skill set, the new appointments have also led to compliance with corporate governance rules including the requirement that independent non-executive directors form at least a third of the boardroom.

“The appointment of the new directors was effected in compliance with the Capital Markets Authority Code of Corporate Governance Practices for issuers of Securities to the Public, 2015,” Centum said in a statement.

Mr Muguiyi, who joined the board in 2003, ceased to be an independent director according to the rules which say that an independent board member is one who has not served for more than nine years.

The changes have reduced the influence of the government in the company, with the state-owned fund Industrial & Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC) now only represented by Kennedy Wanderi after the Industrialisation PS stepped down.

The ICDC owns a 22.97 per cent stake in the investment company.

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