Monday January 31 2011

Centum to cross-list on USE

By Faridah Kulabako


Kenya’s equity firm, Centum, will next month cross-list on the Uganda Securities Exchange, a move expected to offer more investment choices on the local bourse.

Speaking to journalists in Kampala on Friday, Mr James Mworia, the Centum chief executive officer said the move aims to provide local investors an opportunity to access Centum’s portfolio of inaccessible, quality and diversified investments.

He said Uganda offers Centum the best opportunities in the region and that by cross-listing, the firm will be expanding its shareholder base to be more reflective of its East African identity.

Investment channel
“We want to position Centum as the premiere investment channel in East Africa and throughout Africa. Our baseline is to pool domestic capital and invest in the region,” he explained. He added that Africa’s problem is not lack of capital but structures to mobilise funds and channel them to appropriate areas.

Mr Mworia noted that the firm’s focus in the local market will be on sectors driven by domestic demand such as insurance, education publishing, beverage and real estate.

Centum will be the 7th company to cross-list on the USE from the Nairobi Stock Exchange, and the 14th to trade on the local bourse. Other cross-listed companies include: Kenya Airways, East Africa Breweries Limited, Kenya Commercial Bank, Equity Bank, Jubilee Holdings Limited and Nation Media Group that cross-listed in November last year.

On the day of cross-listing in Uganda, the shares will open at the last traded price in Nairobi and about 4 million shares worth about Shs3.37 billion ($1.5 million) are expected to be floated on the cross-listing day.
By Friday last week, Centum share price was trading at Shs672 (KShs24).

Mr Joseph Kitamirike, the USE chief executive officer told Daily Monitor last week that Centum is the only cross-listed firm that will come with shares for Ugandans to trade.

The Centum cross-listing move comes at a time when the firm is modelling itself into a private equity fund as it seeks to raise money from rich individuals and institutions to close buyout deals as it races to diversify fund raising avenues.