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Merali raises stake in Sameer to 74 percent

 Naushad Merali
Businessman Naushad Merali. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Businessman Naushad Merali has acquired an additional 1.91 percent stake in property firm Sameer Africa #ticker:SMER, raising his ownership in the company to a new high of 74.06 percent.

Two companies associated with Mr Merali, Sameer Investments and Yana Trading, bought a total of 5.3 million shares of the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm with a current market value of Sh18.6 million in the year ended December 2019.

The purchases saw the businessman’s interest in Sameer rise from 72.15 percent in 2018.

The trades by Yana Trading and Sameer Investments are among the changes in the company’s list of top shareholders, according to its latest annual report.

Global private bank BNP Paribas (Suisse) SA, which previously held 4.4 million shares, disappeared from the top owners’ list in the period when Mr Merali raised his stake.

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The businessman boosted his ownership at a time when Sameer is eyeing increased profitability after closing its loss-making tyre distribution business.

“Having closed the loss-making units of the group, the board and management will focus on the group’s real estate portfolio, which has been recording profitable growth over the years,” said chairman Erastus Mwongera in the report.

Sameer forecasts that it will make a profit Sh185 million in the current financial year ending December, reversing a net loss of Sh1 billion in 2019.

The company also disclosed that its commercial property and land holdings jumped in value last year to post a paper gain of Sh7.7 billion.

The gain, which is equivalent to about Sh27 per share, has not been reflected in Sameer’s income statements.

Sameer’s current share price on the NSE stands at Sh3.5, indicating a large undervaluation of the company’s assets.

Its property investments include land holdings and stakes in Sameer Business Park (25 percent) and Sameer Industrial Park (100 percent), which leases space to tenants.

This is the second time Mr Merali is raising his stake in the company.

He acquired a 14.9 percent equity from tyre manufacturer Bridgestone in 2013, boosting his ownership to 72.15 percent from the previous 57.25 percent.

The transaction came after Bridgestone terminated an agreement to supply Sameer with technical expertise in tyre manufacture and distribution.

Mr Merali was to sell the additional 14.9 percent stake to another technical partner but this did not materialise.

Sameer continued to produce tyres on its own and later closed its factory to source the products from contract manufacturers in Asia.

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