Centum Investment aims to step up real estate investing

NAIROBI, KENYA: Kenyan investment firm Centum plans to invest up to 2 billion shillings ($24 million) in real estate this year, an increase of up to 500 million shillings on last year, the firm said on Wednesday, after reporting a sharp rise in profits.

Pretax profits rose 137 percent to 3.25 billion shillings ($38 million) in the year ended March 31, it said, on a more than doubling of income for the period.

It has a portfolio of more than $190 million invested across assets in listed firms, private equity and real estate in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria and Ghana.

Centum operates a real estate and infrastructure firm - Athena Properties - that is constructing a mall in Kenya and is developing properties on the shore of Lake Victoria in Uganda.

The firm invested 1.5 billion shillings in property last year, with real estate now accounting for 26 percent of its total assets.

James Mworia, Centum's chief executive, told an investor briefing on Wednesday that the firm had created an asset management arm to handle its quoted private equity portfolio and manage third-party funds.

The firm's shares were down 2.1 percent at 23 shillings by 1033 GMT, with analysts attributing the fall to profit taking after a near doubling in the share price this year.

Eric Musau, an analyst at Standard Investment Bank, also attributed the drop to market disappointment that the firm had failed to issue bonus shares.



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