Kenyan Billionaire Shah Plans Expansion to Quadruple Sales

Bidco Africa, owned by Kenya’s wealthiest man, is targeting a quadrupling in sales by expanding regionally by the end of the decade to make the company a multibillion-dollar business.

The edible-oils manufacturer is considering building plants in Mozambique, Madagascar or Ethiopia by the end of the decade to add to existing operations in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda, Chief Executive Officer Vimal Shah said in an interview on April 21. The company trades in 16 African countries outside Kenya and posted sales of $500 million last year, half of that in its home market, he said.

“We want to grow fourfold within the next five years,” Shah said at his office in Thika, 41 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of the capital, Nairobi. “We are targeting growth of $1 billion in Kenya alone within that period.”

Bidco is the biggest producer of edible oils in eastern and central Africa, and is a marketer of goods including animal feeds, hygiene products and detergents, it says on its website. The company is tapping increasing consumer spending on the continent, which is expected to grow 6 percent annually to $1 trillion by 2020, London-based Investec Asset Management Ltd. said in a report published in August.

Kenya attained lower-middle-income status -- with a per-capita gross national income of at least $1,045 -- and became the fifth-largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa last year after the country’s statistics agency revised the method for calculating gross domestic product.

Increased Spending

The revision increased the size of the economy by a quarter. Growth is expected to accelerate to 6 percent this year from 5.4 percent last year, as it benefits from lower oil prices and increased spending on infrastructure projects, the World Bank said last month.

In November 2013, Forbes Africa ranked Shah, 54, as the 18th richest man in Africa and the wealthiest in Kenya with a personal wealth estimated at 138 billion shillings ($1.47 billion). The U.K.-based New Wealth Report last year ranked him as East Africa’s richest man with a net worth of about 144 billion shillings.

Shah said Bidco has no immediate plans to raise cash and will finance its expansion from existing resources. The company may consider a stock-market listing at a later date, he said.

“We are still seeing growth and we do not need to go public, but we could raise money using other options to expand the group’s business,” he said. In February 2014, Bidco sold $10 million of bonds in Tanzania at a yield of 7 percent.

“If it’s a loan that is required to expand the business, we shall go for it,” Shah said. “But we have completely ruled out going public for now.”

Founded in 1970 as a garment-manufacturing company, Bidco employs more than 2,000 people and its products are marketed to 350 million people across eastern and central Africa, according to the company’s website.

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