The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Centum Acquires Fund Manager, Eyes Rea

Investment company Centum has acquired a controlling stake in fund manager Genesis Kenya as it awaits results of its cash take-over proposal for listed plantations firm Rea Vipingo.

The company, cross-listed on Nairobi and Uganda Securities Exchanges, announced in a notice to the two exchanges on Friday, details of which were made public yesterday, that it has acquired 73.35 per cent stake in Genesis after getting requisite statutory and regulatory approvals.

Genesis operates in Kenya as a fund manager since 1996 while in Uganda, it serves as a fund manager and investment adviser.

It is said to be managing wealth of over Sh100 billion, mainly for institutional clients.

"Centum will be looking to grow the business of Genesis and together with experienced management team at Genesis will deliver clients by offering new products of interest to the clients and diverse investment opportunities," said chief executive James Mworia in the statement. The company already operates Centum Asset Managers as a subsidiary fund manager.

Largely owned by state-controlled Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation and entrepreneur Chris Kirubi with 22.97 and 18.60 per cent stake respectively, Centum has lately exhibited hunger for growth

It is currently in the driving seat in a competitive bidding race to buy Rea Vipingo with two other companies, British Rea Trading Company that controls 57.04 per cent stake in Rea Vipingo and Bid Investment.

The board of Rea Vipingo yesterday published details of the Centum's official cash offer on December 18 of Sh50 a piece, totalling Sh3 billion for the 60 million issued ordinary shares. British Rea Trading Company owned by two brothers has bid Sh40 per share while Bid Investment has placed a Sh55 per share offer.

In the offer, Centum says it has Sh5 billion in illiquid assets to "satisfy the cash consideration" for successful acceptance of its take-over bid.

The company that has 12 subsidiaries, mainly in Kenya and Mauritius, engaged in private and quoted securities as well as real estate portfolios, further cites a Sh800 million credit facility that it has not drawn.

It also says it has scope to tap into a debt facility for the satisfaction of consideration.

Rea Vipingo yesterday denied that any of its directors has entered into any arrangement or agreement with Centum regarding the latter's proposal.

"Centum does not propose in connection with the take-over offer to make a payment or any other benefit to any director of the offeree or of any related company as a consideration for...his retirement from office," the Rea Vipingo board said in a paid up statement in a section of the dailies. "Centum has not entered into any agreement by which shares acquired by it in pursuance of the take-over offer will or may be transfered to any other person."

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