Earlier this month, leading Pan African organisation, Centurion International AG (CIAG), successfully announced the listing of its shares on the open market of the Dusseldorf Stock Exchange.
Following that announcement, Dreams Talks spoke with the CEO, NJ Ayuk, for Africanian, in an exclusive interview where he shared more on the company’s vision and belief in African talents and businesses.
Dreams Talks: What does this mean for Centurion International and African organisations?
NJ Ayuk: First thing we have to give credit to is acknowledge we have arrived at a place where African companies and firms are being taken seriously, can get in with the key players and do very well. It is a tedious process to get accepted into the Dusseldorf Stock Exchange or any European Stock Exchange. So, as an African company, I give the credit to our incredible team. SMC Investment bank as well who have been incredible to work with.
What it means for African companies is that those we represent, those that we work with, have a chance to tell their stories in the biggest financial markets of the world. We have a chance to tell their business stories, their capital raising requirements, so that we can work and still be able as a firm, to raise capital. Our main job is to increase shareholder value and we are working towards doing that.
But what is a really important is that the shareholders of Centurion won’t be just a few people. It’s going to be everybody. All the employees that work here can be shareholders. It’s going to be an employee owned company. Something that is a different mindset from what we’ve always seen on the African continent where from the doorman to the CEO, they are owners. We are empowering everyone on this journey.
We are also going to be held accountable. Accountable to our actions, for the things we do, the drives we make, and this in itself says, we have just raised our game.
Dreams Talks: Is Centurion International looking to get into more Stock Exchanges globally?
NJ Ayuk: We are going to consider it. Right now we want to nurse what we have, perfect it, grow with it. You are looking at a firm that is going to triple its size. You’re looking at about three to four hundred employees within the next two to three years. We are going to have to bring in a lot of new expertise, increase and improve our portfolio, diversify and look at acquisitions we make. Those are big burdens for us but they are also exciting. It’s exciting for us because at a time when everybody counted out an African firm in a post-covid era, we are building our post-covid recovery back by having that conversation with ourselves but also understanding that it is a big global village so we are having those conversations with top European firms, investors that are going to believe in Africa and really want Africans to be part of that play. We come in being compliant, we come in with strong corporate governance, we bring in African companies that have great management teams, record making profits, and then just drive that.
It sends that message that if we at Centurion can do it, then anyone can do it. But also, that it’s going to demand more of the kind of services that we provide. We are still going to be doing a lot of work in Energy. From green to oil. We are still going to be doing that. We are going to be real and still empower our young people. Keep our tradition of hiring young Africans and training them with the best and let them grow. Promoting from within. Those things are very important as we drive up; and also bringing the big international partners and investors to come in.
Dreams Talks: How do you plan to maintain this momentum?
NJ Ayuk: I work out every morning (laughs!!!)
We are in it for a reason and not for the season. When you are purpose driven, for some, God’s gives you that energy to keep going. You look at the challenges and everything that is out there but you don’t worry about momentum because momentum is being driven by challenges and we have to be that generation that fixes things and changes them for the better. Right now, you are seeing a lot of potentials but they mean nothing if you don’t have real results. We are going to tap into lots of young Africans and get them into the boardrooms, and get them to work because there is ingenuity, success and it can be found within us. If we can continue to rekindle that belief that if you work hard, study and give it your best, then we are really talking about a new work ethic that will drive us. Our work ethic is what keeps us going. You put a challenge, and we beat it.
Dreams Talks: Can you shed a bit more light on Centurion International’s Growth as regards the next steps for your organisation?
NJ Ayuk: We are going to be in Dubai, London, Madrid, but we are also going to be in New York. I think we need to be there. If you believe that we as a people, with the skills-set that we have, and we are tapping into this big investor pool, you’ll be shocked by the number of investors that have come in and it was really important to open up. There are going to be a lot of changes and that is a good thing because now what will happen is that from Africa to the world, we are building a global firm but with an African heart. We are really going to move forward with one of the most aggressive African promotions and investments drive. There is no reason why we can’t be that voice which attracts investments into Africa to look at renewable projects, technology, real estate, and financing.
We have this platform, this vehicle, that has evolved itself over 12 years and now it is something that we ourselves are shocked by what we’ve become. The biggest mistake will be to stop now. We will not stop!
NJ Ayuk as CEO of the CIAG group has seen its portfolio diversify over time as they provide vast professional services, legal advice in all African jurisdictions and consulting, such as market entry and pan-African expansion strategies for companies in the private and public sector, with a focus on the African energy industry.