Mary Anne Musangi, heiress to the late Kenyan mogul Chris Kirubi’s multi-billion shilling empire, achieved a new milestone in her quest to put Centum – one of the Kirubi’s largest investments – on solid footing after a loss-making streak, as the government moved to gazette the Centum-backed Two Rivers International Finance and Innovation Centre as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
Chris Kirubi, who passed away in 2021 aged 80, owned a 31-percent stake in Centum Investments. The stake is today held by his son, Robert Kirubi, and daughter, Mary-Ann who inherited 80 percent of his fortune – including stakes in KCB Group, Haco Industries and Bendor Estate Limited among several other businesses.
Maryanne has been at the helm of the family’s business and sits on several boards. “It’s not like he passed away and then I came and took over. I was running them [businesses] already. I sat on the boards of the companies as a director before he fell sick,” she noted following her father’s passing.
“I will do everything possible to make sure that the businesses continue running well; continue thriving; that we can continue employing the people that we have within the different organisations.”
The gazettement of Two Rivers Financial Centre as a special economic zone is expected to boost the prospects of the Two Rivers Development, which in recent times has been posting losses. SEZ status will allow Two Rivers to woo businesses with the promise of benefits including tax breaks, unrestricted profit repatriation and exemptions on various levies.
Two Rivers Financial Centre is eyeing global, regional and Kenyan service-oriented businesses. Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria described the gazettement of the SEZ AS “a giant milestone in the development of Kenya’s Economic Landscape and a major boost for Africa’s global investment profile.”
The SEZ will sit on 64 acres, part of the larger Two Rivers Development which includes a mall, residential buildings and commercial spaces. Two Rivers Financial Centre touts itself as the only service sector-focused SEZ in Nairobi.
Two Rivers Development Limited posted an operating loss of Ksh2 billion in FY 2022 compared to Ksh1.9 billion in FY 2021, attributed primarily to finance costs. Centum posted a loss after tax for the year ended 31 March 2022 of Ksh21 million down from a loss after tax of Ksh607 million in FY 2021.
The performance was attributed to an increase in investment income as the company sought to rebalance its portfolio in line with its capital preservation and liquidity enhancement objectives, as well as reduction in impairment provisions and increased operational efficiencies. Operating and administration expenses reduced by 21%.