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Norway fund picks Centum unit Nabo as assets manager

Pius Muchiri, the Nabo Capital’s managing director. PHOTO | FILE
Pius Muchiri, the Nabo Capital’s managing director. PHOTO | FILE 

Nabo Capital, a subsidiary of investment firm Centum, has been appointed one of the asset managers of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest at $818 billion (Sh83 trillion).

Nabo, which was established three years ago, was among 11 fund managers picked by the oil revenue-funded Government Pension Fund Global late last year while eight others were dropped.

The inclusion of Nabo in the list of the fund’s 73 external managers will see the company earn fees as it invests the undisclosed sums in the continent’s equities and fixed income securities.

Norway’s wealth fund invests in some 75 countries and owns about 1.3 per cent of all global equities, including stakes in Apple, HSBC, Norvatis, Nestle and Microsoft and thousands more.

Nabo says it invests in African countries except South Africa.

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“The Norwegian fund conducted an extensive due diligence exercise on us for over a year beginning sometime in 2014,” Pius Muchiri, Nabo Capital’s managing director, told the Business Daily.

“We cannot disclose how much funds they will allocate us and where it will be invested. Nabo Capital will, however, fulfil the confidential investment mandate which the Fund has given us across the continent.”

Centum ventured into the fund management business in 2013 upon receiving a licence to open a new subsidiary called Centum Asset Managers Limited (CAM).

The investment firm, which is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange, had at the time acquired a majority stake in Genesis Kenya Investment Management, which was the second largest pension fund manager in the country.

CAM, which was later rebranded to Nabo Capital, invests in equity and fixed income portfolios on behalf of clients such as insurance firms, institutional and high-net-worth investors, including Kenyan pension funds.

Nabo had assets under management of $140 million (Sh14.3 billion) before the entry of Norway’s wealth fund which is expected to have raised the total investable sums significantly.

“We receive third party funds from across the world and invest it in Africa, except in South Africa. We are currently following around 700 stocks and we move our clients’ money around looking for the highest returns,” said Mr Muchiri.

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund was set up in 1990 to manage the country’s oil wealth, investing its assets abroad to save money for future generations and avoid creating asset bubbles at home.

According to the fund’s website, it invests about 60 per cent of its assets in stocks, about 35 per cent in fixed income with another five per cent going into real estate projects.

By the end of last year, the fund which now holds $157,000 (Sh16 million) for every man, woman and child living in Norway, had approximately $35 billion (Sh3.6 trillion) allocated to external asset managers.

The fund, which has grown more than six-fold in the past decade on the back of an oil boom, routinely amends its roster of external managers who presently number 73.

Nabo Capital was among the 11 asset administrators included on the list in a revision that saw others dropped including California-based Pimco, one of the largest investment management firms in the world.

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