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February 17, 2019

UK firm increases charm offensive against Kenyans

THE UK’s St Paul’s Property Trust has upped its charm-offensive against domestic real estate investors.

Ahead of planned Sh4 billion initial public offering on the Nairobi Securities Exchange, the firm has appointed Vincent Rague, a venture capitalist, to its board.

Rague is a co-founder and director of Catalyst Principal Partners – a private equity management firm based in Nairobi.

He also chairs FSD Africa, a programme funded by the UK’s Department for International Development to support the development of financial markets in Africa.

St Paul’s Property Trust plans to list on the NSE’s Growth Enterprise Market Segment by the year. It will become the second real estate firm to list after Home Afrika which started trading its shares on July 15, 2013.

The Home Afrika shares were valued at Sh12 per unit and shot up to Sh25 on the debut day. They have however slumped to below Sh3 because of what investors have called a “lack of a clear revenue-generating strategy”.

St Paul’s said its offer which seeks to raise as much as Sh5 billion, because of a Sh1 billion green-shoe option, will enable Kenyans to get returns from rent payment by the UK civil servants through dividends.

“He [Rague] brings extensive listed-company and corporate governance experience to the team,” St Paul’s director Richard Britten-Long said. “He buys into our focused approach to protecting value for shareholders.”

The company said it plans to buy properties, already under long-term government lease, and manage them on behalf of investors.

It has said the choice of the NSE was driven by the growing appetite for the UK property market by domestic investors.

The Nairobi bourse, Bitten-Long said, is also sophisticated in line with plans to become the financial services hub for sub-Saharan Africa.

St Paul’s said it is focusing on top-grade [AAA-rated] assets in major cities.

Birmingham and Manchester cities will be a priority in realising its expansion strategy, the firm said in an earlier statement.



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