Kuwait Projects Co, the country’s biggest privately owned investment firm, plans to repay KD174m ($625m) of group debt this year as it seeks regional expansion through acquisitions. “Our focus for the coming year will be to pay down debt, cut costs at subsidiary level and improve the performance of our operating companies,” vice chairman Faisal al-Ayyar told shareholders on Tuesday at the company’s headquarters in Kuwait City. Kipco, as the company is known, plans to reduce general and administrative costs by 15 percent this year, according to an investor presentation. United Gulf Bank, a unit of Kipco, will divest non-core assets, while Burgan Bank, which announced on Monday its acquisition of a 99 percent stake in Eurobank Tekfen, will seek to raise operating profit and market share, according to the presentation. Kipco, which has holdings in more than 70 companies and conducts business in 26 countries, posted a 54 percent decline in fourth-quarter profit to KD30m. The company, which sold KD80m of four-year debt in January, expects its 21st year of profitability this year, al-Ayyar said. “A lot of signs show 2012 will be better than 2011, but the real impact will show in 2013” al-Ayyar told reporters. “In 2012 there will be an easier flow within the group, a reduction in holding operations by the companies, a decline in the group’s debt by about 174 million dinars, and many acquisitions.” The company plans to expand in banking, insurance and real estate industries this year, al-Ayyar said. Kipco has KD164m in cash and doesn’t need to sell bonds this year, he said. Kipco shares were unchanged at 335 fils in Kuwait trading on Monday. The stock has gained 10 percent this year. There are 1,000 fils to the dinar.