Capital Markets

Kirubi sets sights on the bourse for right time to raise stake in Centum


Mr Chris Kirubi says he is waiting for the right time at the stock market to buy more shares in Centum. FILE

Billionaire businessman Chris Kirubi is still keen on his target shareholding at Centum Investments, saying he is waiting for the right time at the stock market to buy.

Mr Kirubi began looking for shares in the investment firm last September with the intention of raising his shareholding to 29.9 per cent through buying 32.65 million shares.

His current stake stands at 24.99 per cent and he remains the single largest individual shareholder. He chairs the company’s board of directors.
“I have not yet managed to buy. I am still waiting for a favourable time,” said Mr Kirubi on the telephone.

Centum Investment has seen its price increase by 51 per cent since he made his announcement last September. In the past 12 months the price of the shares has risen by about 150 per cent, making it increasingly expensive to buy the stock.

Centum is among the companies bidding to take over agricultural firm Rea Vipingo Plantations (RVP), having quoted Sh75 per share.
Trading in RVP’s shares has been suspended, but suitors have been competing against each other.

Mr Kirubi owns large amounts of assets in various sectors of the economy including agriculture, insurance, media and real estate. Besides Centum, the companies where he holds significant stakes are UAP Insurance and a coffee plantation in Thika.

In 2012, his networth was estimated by US-based magazine Forbes to be $300 million (Sh26 billion), but he disputed this. When asked about the report, he said it was worth more.

“Well, I don’t know about the value. It is probably worth much more,” said Mr Kirubi in an interview.

The same Forbes report valued President Uhuru Kenyatta’s networth at $500 million (Sh43 billion), but the magazine later withdrew the valuation when it was pointed out that it was inaccurate and did not differentiate between family and individual wealth.

The businessman announced last September that he intended to increase his stake at Centum by buying an additional 32.65 million shares. At the current price of Sh37.50 on the Nairobi Securities Exchange the new shares would be worth Sh1.2 billion.

READ: Kirubi stake soars to Sh6.4 billion as Centum surges

In the rivalry for the ownership of RVP, Mr Kirubi has locked horns two UK-based brothers who currently hold 57 per cent of the agricultural firm’s shares.

The two, Richard and Jeremy Robinow, have offered to pay Sh70 per share in cash and top up this with an extra Sh15 per share in the event of a sale of the company’s 10,000 acres of land at the Kenyan Coast before 2018.

Though there is no certainty as to such sale before 2018, shareholders might face a hard decision between the Kirubi-backed offer and that of the two London-based brothers.