Politics and policy
New twist in KenolKobil’s tussle with workers over takeover
Posted Sunday, July 8 2012 at 17:06
Oil marketer KenolKobil has obtained a court order overturning an earlier one stopping the firm’s takeover by Switzerland-based Puma Energy.
The workers had moved to the Industrial Court and successfully blocked the deal, albeit temporarily.
Last week, however, the fuel marketer stayed the orders pending an inter-parties hearing on Wednesday.
The company’s managing director, Mr Jacob Segman, said in a statement on Friday that the board and management appreciated the contribution of KenolKobil workers and would continue to engage them through dialogue.
Mr Segman said that the firm’s board had instructed management to listen to employee concerns.
The more than 1,000 workers had restrained the company from signing the transaction until the dispute over their fate is heard and concluded.
They had asked Mr Justice Isaac Mukunya to issue an injunction arguing that the new owners could restructure the firm and send them packing.
“New owners will not be liable for contractual commitments made by the present employer,” workers, led by Philip Otenyo, Vincent Njoroge, and Ronald Lugaba, had told the court through their lawyer.
The judge allowed them to institute a representative suit on behalf of all the workers when he was told that unless the court intervened, they risked termination of employment once the restructuring was realised.
The employees were apprehensive that the proposed restructuring was likely to lead to loss of salaries, accrued benefits, and terminal dues.
Cede their shares
Sources privy to the transaction revealed that the majority shareholders, estimated to own about 70 per cent of the firm, had agreed to cede their shares to Puma Energy while minority shareholders would have no option but to sell their stakes at an agreed price.
Mr Segman said that the Swiss firm would complete its due diligence — investigation of a business prior to signing a contract — this month paving the way for negotiations.
“If the due diligence and subsequent negotiations are satisfactory, then Puma Energy may proceed with the transaction subject to applicable regulations,’’ said the CEO in a statement.