Sameer Africa is targeting financial services and outsourcing firms in its new office park that opened officially on Friday.
The Sh2.2 billion complex along Mombasa Road marks the company’s diversification into the property market expected to shore up its struggling tyre manufacturing business.
The focus on finance and IT firms follows a government change-of-plan to become an anchor tenant at the park where it was expected to set up an information technology incubation centre.
Sameer is now seeking tenants to occupy the office park on 400,000 square feet, with a bias also for showrooms and consultancy offices.
“The office park is a showcase of ultra-modernity in the region, modelled on similar concepts found in the developed economies, which will go a long way in enhancing our competitiveness and attraction as a business destination,” said Naushad Merali, the chairman of Sameer Investments.
Sameer, which controls a 25 per cent stake in Sameer Park Limited-— the property development firm that owns the office park— diversified into real estate in 2008 with the anticipation to gain from the boom in the housing sector which began a decade ago.
Mr Merali said the office park was targeting to house players in the financial services sector and business process outsourcing from across the world.
Among the tenants that have taken up space in the expansive office park are Sameer’s sister companies Equatorial Commercial Bank, Savannah Coffee Lounge and Kenya Data Networks, KDN.
Mr Merali said most of the office spaces available incorporated broadband to attract BPOs, after the success of Kencall- the country’s first call centre based in the Sameer Industrial Park, which the company also owns.
President Mwai Kibaki, who was chief guest at the opening ceremony, said the BPO industry was emerging as a key sector in the creation of new employment opportunities and the country’s economic development.
“The industry is offering great investments with high potential for employment opportunities and we therefore intend to use this emerging industry to propel our economic growth and development,” said Mr Kibaki.
Anticipated occupancy in the office park suffered a setback after the Ministry of Information pulled out of a plan to set up an information technology incubation centre at the premises, with Treasury opting to delay the project till the Konza ICT park gets completed.
The company’s executives had projected in 2009 in a note to shareholders, that the office block would have been fully occupied by the end of last year, upon completion.
Cheap tyre imports from Asia and soaring rubber prices in the international markets have depressed Sameer’s earnings from trye manufacturing-— its core business with the company slashing its net profits by more than 60 per cent last year to Sh57 million.
The year 2006 was a worse one for the company after it booked Sh22 million in losses, before it returned to profits over the next three financial years reporting a net profit Sh158 million in 2009.
Eric Musau, an investment analyst at the Standard Investment Bank said the company’s stake in the real estate project was too small to have meaningful effect on its earnings.
“Sameer stake in the business park is minimal and we do not expect that the revenues it is expected to generate would have any significant effect on its overall earnings and profitability,” said Mr Musau.
The tyre manufacturing firm’s revenues have remained stunted at about Sh3 billion over the last five years despite increased overall consumption owing to the rising number of vehicles on Kenyan roads.