Companies

Kirubi crosses 25pc Centum ownership mark

kirubi

Businessman Chris Kirubi. FILE

Summary

Mr Kirubi holds Centum shares under his name and indirectly through his shareholding in UAP Holdings and investment vehicles Kiruma International and International House.

Billionaire businessman Chris Kirubi has raised his shareholding in investment company Centum to slightly more than 25 per cent, edging towards his declared target of owning nearly 30 per cent of the listed firm.

Mr Kirubi disclosed in September last year an intention to acquire 29.9 per cent shares of Centum, but said he did not intend to take over the company after reaching this threshold in line with regulatory requirements.

The latest regulatory filings show that the businessman had made net purchases of 784,400 Centum shares as at May currently worth Sh37.4 million, raising his stake to 25.1 per cent from 24.99 when he announced plans to raise his ownership. Mr Kirubi, however, said it would take him a bit longer to reach his targeted stake, depending on the availability of the shares in the market.

“I will buy when I have the time and money; there was no timeline to the share purchases,” said Mr Kirubi in a telephone interview from the US. The shares he has bought so far represent 2.4 per cent of the 32.65 million units he said he would need to acquire. Centum’s share price has more than doubled in the past year.

Mr Kirubi would need to spend double what it would have cost him at the time of making the announcement last year to achieve his objective after the announcement sparked a rally of Centum’s share price.

The 32.65 million shares he is yet to buy would now cost Sh1.5 billion based on Centum’s current share price of Sh47.7. This is nearly double the Sh832 million they would have been worth in mid-September last year, when the stock traded at Sh25.

Mr Kirubi’s Centum stake is now valued at Sh8 billion, up from Sh4 billion in September. The capital gains have been critical for Centum’s shareholders who have had to forego dividends in line with the company’s policy of re-investing its entire earnings.

READ: Centum sticks to zero-dividend policy in shift to new growth plan

The businessman says he has no intention of taking over Centum and that his move is an expression of confidence in future prospects of the company, besides helping to ensure that local investors retain majority ownership in the investment firm.

Mr Kirubi’s current 25.1 per cent stake makes him the single-largest investor in Centum ahead of ICDC whose ownership stands at 22.97 per cent. Financial services firm UAP Holdings has a 4.77 per cent stake, having cut from the previous 5.52 per cent ownership in March last year.

Mr Kirubi holds Centum shares under his name and indirectly through his shareholding in UAP Holdings and investment vehicles Kiruma International and International House. His purchase of Centum shares is a shift from his divestitures in publicly traded firms in the past one year including KCB and Safaricom, where he previously held significant stakes.

READ: Kenya’s ageless dealmakers

[email protected]