KENYA – Businessman and industrialist Dr. Chris Kirubi is set to pay about KSh3 billion (US$28.2m) for an additional 19.9 per cent shareholding and own half of Centum Investment Company PLC, following a go-ahead by the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) to acquire more shares.

Mr Kirubi, who currently holds 30% shareholding in Centum, has received an exemption from the CMA to increase his shareholding at the firm to 49.9%, without having to make a mandatory takeover offer to other shareholders.

He will buy the additional shares from other shareholders selling at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) over time.

The exemption, CMA said, is in accordance to its Takeovers & Mergers Regulations, which will see Kirubi progressively raise his shareholding in Centum from the current 30 percent threshold in open market transactions.

“This intended additional acquisition is my strong vote of confidence in the prospects and long-term strategic direction of the company,” said Kirubi, who is also the chair at Centum.

He added that his target is to acquire the additional shares subject to their availability in the open market.

“Dr Kirubi is a renowned investor with many years of hands-on experience, his additional investment in Centum is an affirmation of his confidence in the company’s progressive performance,” said the Centum CEO James Mworia in a statement.

“This is also good news for our stock market, especially coming at a time when the Coronavirus pandemic has created uncertainties, it is an indicator that investors with a long term outlook need not hold back from participating in the bourse,” he added.

Kirubi sits on the board of Centum as a director and has been a key shareholder of the company for more than 20 years.

Kirubi is Centum’s single largest shareholder. Other key single shareholders include billionaires John Kibunga Kimani and Baloobhai Patel.

The exemption to acquire additional shares without triggering a mandatory takeover offer is in line with the CMA’s policy initiative of encouraging unrestricted demand for shares in publicly listed companies, which helps in price discovery of listed stocks.

The CMA also aims to enable shareholders to continue to publicly support companies that they are already invested in, while facilitating increased market liquidity.

The exemption has been granted on the condition that all trading in Centum shares shall continue to be in compliance with all regulatory requirements relating to insider trading.

Centum is East Africa’s leading investment company, listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange and Uganda Securities Exchange.

The company provides investors with access to a wide portfolio of inaccessible, quality, diversified investments.

In the year ended March 2019, the company posted a 48 percent jump in net profit to KSh4.12 billion (US$38.7m), partly boosted by capital gain and land revaluations.