John Kibunga Kimani is one of the largest individual investors at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE). He holds major stakes in many of Kenya’s biggest companies – across sectors including media, communications, agriculture and financial services. His listed equities portfolio as of 2017 had an estimated mark-to-market value of Ksh2.8 billion, having hit Ksh4 billion during the peak of the NSE bull run in 2015.
The reclusive billionaire rose from growing up with his family as squatters in Makuyu, Murang’a County to becoming one of the largest shareholders of Kakuzi Plc – the agricultural giant that owns 39,000 acres of land in Makuyu.
He has been in the headlines this week after regulatory filings showed that he had purchased additional shares in Centum Investment worth Ksh219 million. Kimani increased his stake to 4.7 per cent or 31.2 million shares in the first week of August 2022, up from 1.24 per cent or 8.2 million shares on March 31, 2021. Centum is only one of several companies in his portfolio.
The move makes Kimani, who has been described as a ‘buy-and-hold’ investor, Centum’s third-largest shareholder after the estate of the late mogul Chris Kirubi, which owns 30.94% of the company, and State-owned Kenya Development Corporation which holds a 22.97 per cent stake in the company. Centum is an investment company with interests in private equity, real estate, e*******n and financial services.
Centum’s share price at the NSE has fallen 41.2% over the past year. The company has maintained that its stock at NSE is undervalued considering the strength of Centum’s assets. The sustained bear run at the bourse, analysts opine, has also contributed to the decline in stock price.
Among Centum’s assets are stakes in firms such as Longhorn Publishers, SABIS® International School – Runda, Nabo Capital, Two Rivers Mall and several apartment projects. Centum in June sold off its 83.4% stake in Sidian Bank to Nigerian lender Access Bank in a Ksh4.3 billion deal.
Other companies Kimani holds a stake in include Safaricom, East Africa’s most profitable company. He holds 18.1 million shares worth Ksh486 million in the telco, according to records from July 2022. Safaricom’s net profit fell 1.7 percent drop to Ksh67.49 billion in the year to March 2022, the first results since its expansion into Ethiopia.
He also has a 1.73% stake in Nation Media Group (NMG). The investor bought 297,400 additional NMG shares in 2016, increasing his shareholding to 1.73 per cent from 1.57 per cent in 2015.
NMG reported a tenfold increase in its net profits which hit Ksh493.1 million for the year ended December 2021, up from Ksh47.9 million in 2020. Total revenues rose 12 percent to hit Ksh7.6 billion. The group resumed dividend payments with a proposal to pay Ksh1.50 per share – making Kimani one of the big beneficiaries.
In 2019, he bought an additional 263,526 shares in Kakuzi raising his stake to 32 percent. Kakuzi reported a net profit of Ksh319.7 million for the financial year ended 31st December 2021 – a a 49% decline compared to net earnings of Ksh622 million the previous year. The Kakuzi Board of Directors recommended an increase in the dividend per share to Ksh22.00 compared to Ksh18.00 per share in 2020.
In 2019, in a rare share-sale, Kimani sold three million Total Kenya shares worth Ksh80 million, exiting the list of the oil marketer’s top shareholders. He previously ranked as the second-largest investor in Total Kenya after French conglomerate Total SA which is the controlling shareholder with a 93.96 percent equity.
“I sold my Total shares. This was to raise funds to buy more shares in Kakuzi,” he explained at the time.