Creating Tangible Wealth

With a vision to be Africa’s foremost investment channel, Centum has been investing in Kenya for the last 46 years and is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange and cross-listed on the Uganda Securities Exchange. The firm is Kenya’s largest publicly traded investment group. In the last four years alone, Centum has grown its total assets by 234 per cent from 6.4 to 21.4 billion Kenyan shillings. The group’s strategy is organized across three divisions; Private Equity, Quoted Private equity and Real Estate and Infrastructure.

“In each of these business lines, Centum is structured to manage its own funds as well as third party funds,” says Fred Murimi, Director of Corporate Affairs at Centum. “With attracting these third party funds, Centum will be able to grow its investments which are all primarily in sectors that are consumer focused and driven by consumer demand.”

Making History with Two Rivers

Centum is helming one of the biggest real estate ventures on the continent. The Two Rivers development is 100 acres of prime real estate in Kenya located within the highly sought after diplomatic blue zone in Nairobi. This complex is set to become an essential destination in East Africa in which to work, play, and relax, all in one place.

“Centum is looking to create a premium commercial destination in Nairobi,” says Murimi. “Centum acquired bare agricultural land three years ago and has in that period succeeded in developing a master plan and obtaining all necessary approvals for the development of 850,000 square metres of land. Centum will be putting in the entire infrastructure to make Two Rivers a world-class environment and will be partnering with other investors for the development of this bulk.

The project has already broken ground and the infrastructure component is expected to be completed by June 2015.”

This multi-use complex will include a mall, a large water front, residential apartments, two hotels and a hospital. The development of the site will be conducted in an environmentally sustainable manner and assurances will be made to protect the riparian reserve. Plans have allocated around 30 per cent of the total area to remain preserved for green spaces.

A project the size of Two Rivers has the potential to change the landscape of Kenya for generations to come. Centum is working with several partners, leaders in their respective fields that will play a key role in facilitating the development. Knight Frank will be letting the retail mall and Boogertman + Partners are the retail and infrastructure architects.

Chapman BDSP is the mechanical, electrical and service engineer for the infrastructure and retail arm of Two Rivers. The civil and structural consultant for retail is Howard Humphreys and Gath Consulting Engineers are the civil and structural consultants for the infrastructure.  Also involved is YMR Partnership, an independent construction cost consultancy practice and ITEC Traffic Consultants. Another company that will be letting the completed space is Kolman Retail & Marketing Consultancy. Maiteri and Associates are the mechanical and electrical sub-consultants of the Two Rivers infrastructure and retail project.

Growing Assets

It’s evident that Centum has played a key role in developing Kenya and in facilitating investments within the country.

“Through its various investments, Centum has been able to create opportunities for other investors,” explains Murimi. “For instance, in real estate, Centum is attracting other investors to partner with it in the realization of the Two Rivers development after Centum has significantly reduced the risks of investing in such projects.

“The realization of the Two Rivers development will create a solution for Nairobi’s growing population by offering a master planned environment of residential, commercial, office and retail space. The Pearl Marina project in Uganda will be offering a similar solution to the growing needs of Kampala and Entebbe residents.”

Centum has invested in Pearl Marina a new development that will sit on 345 acres on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda. It’s anticipated that it will become a top attraction in Uganda for both local and foreign tourists. The location of the Marina will allow for quick access to Entebbe International Airport and to Kampala the capital city, by either lake or road.

The property will be an integrated golfing estate on the Garuga Peninsula and will consist of holiday apartments, a resort, an international school, hospital, various facilities and a ferry service. Pearl Marina will enable Uganda to become a premium waterfront tourism and commercial destination.

With assets in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria and Ghana, Centum’s portfolio continues to grow. The firm’s Private Equity business line includes: UAP Insurance Group which operates in 6 countries across Eastern Africa; Platinum Credit, an emergency micro-lender operating in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania; AON Kenya Insurance Brokers; General Motors East Africa, Almasi Beverages Limited and Nairobi Bottlers Limited (both Coca-Cola bottling companies); and Kenya Wine Agencies Limited. The Real Estate business line includes the aforementioned Two Rivers Development Limited and Pearl Marina Estates Limited.

“Centum has been active in driving the growth of the companies it has invested in to achieve this growth in total assets,” says Murimi. “On the private equity front, Centum was involved in a US$60 million capital raising in UAP Group and in consolidating three of the Coca-Cola bottling companies into one entity, Almasi Beverages Limited…the consolidation is expected to achieve economies of scale for the bottling companies that Centum has invested in.”

In the last four years of the current strategy period, Centum has grown its shareholder wealth by 10.25 billion Kenyan shillings; an average growth rate of 28 per cent annually. According to company records released in March 2013, the value of Centum’s portfolio of investments made outside of Kenya has also increased to 19 per cent, from less than one per cent in 2009.

Community Matters

For Centum, along with fulfilling its obligations to the client, the community is paramount. The firm ensures to fulfill its corporate social responsibility and is involved in numerous projects especially ones that provide education to young girls. Centum has partnered with the Kianda Foundation, a non-profit that educates girls in Kenya at both the primary and secondary levels. Centum has also connected with the Zawadi Africa Foundation which provides funding so that girls can pursue an overseas university education, usually in the USA.

Recently, Centum was a big winner at the coveted FiRe awards and walked away with several prizes including the Overall Winner 2013. The annual awards celebrate organisations that achieve the highest standards of financial reporting across various sectors in East Africa. Additionally, Centum was the winner in the Industrial, Commercial and Services Category; and the winner for the Listed Companies Category. The awards were an indication of a culture of excellence which the Centum team abides by.

“Our staff has been a critical component to Centum’s success,” says Murimi. “Without the staff, Centum would not have been able to identify and close the various investment opportunities it has come across and thereafter to grow the investments and attract third party funds.”