Billionaire investor Baloobhai Patel has bought an additional 6.5 million shares in Co-op Bank with a current market value of Sh75.5 million.
His ownership rose to 40.4 million shares equivalent to a 0.69 percent stake as of March, according to disclosures by the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm. Mr Patel held 33.9 million shares of the bank amounting to a 0.58 percent stake in December 2021.
The purchases have entrenched his position as the second-largest individual investor in the lender. Co-op Bank’s chief executive Gideon Muriuki is the top individual shareholder with a 1.75 percent equity.
Mr Patel’s additional investment came at a time when the bank’s share price traded at a range of between Sh12.55 and Sh13.3, according to market data. The lender’s share price dropped to close at Sh11.55 on Tuesday. Co-op Bank will close its books for the Sh1 per share dividend payout on May 30.
The bank’s stock is among those of blue-chip firms trading on the NSE which have declined despite higher earnings, with the trend attributed to foreign investors fleeing frontier and emerging markets in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war and rising interest rates in developed economies.
Major local investors like Mr Patel and the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) have been buying more shares in blue-chip firms, positioning themselves for long-term gains.
Co-op Bank grew its net income 53 percent in the year ended December, helped by higher interest income from lending and investment in government fixed-income securities.
The lender’s net profit in the review period stood at Sh16.5 billion, up from Sh10.8 billion a year earlier. Co-op Bank’s dividend of Sh1 per share will be paid on June 17.
The payout is the same as for the previous two years when other listed banks suspended or slashed dividends, citing increased economic uncertainty brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most of the lenders have reinstated or raised dividends in the review period, with Standard Chartered Bank Kenya making its highest-ever payout of Sh19 per share or an aggregate of Sh7.1 billion.
Co-op Bank’s earnings growth rode on a 14 percent increase in total interest income to Sh55.6 billion as the loan book and investment in government securities expanded 8.2 percent and 13.6 percent to Sh310.1 billion and Sh184 billion respectively.
Non-interest income, including fees and commissions, increased by Sh1.9 billion to Sh19.3 billion, contributing to the bottom-line.