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Kenyatta business empire goes into expansion drive

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President Uhuru Kenyatta. The business empire that is associated with Kenya’s founding president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta has in recent months made fresh bets in the hospitality, dairy, media and banking sectors – and in foreign markets where it is seeking to buy existing players or launch green-shoe operations. Photo/FILE

President Uhuru Kenyatta. The business empire that is associated with Kenya’s founding president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta has in recent months made fresh bets in the hospitality, dairy, media and banking sectors – and in foreign markets where it is seeking to buy existing players or launch green-shoe operations. Photo/FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By Victor Juma

Posted  Monday, November 11   2013 at  21:06

In Summary

  • The business empire that is associated with Kenya’s founding president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta has in recent months made fresh bets in the hospitality, dairy, media and banking sectors – and in foreign markets where it is seeking to buy existing players or launch green-shoe operations
  • Brookside Dairy, Heritage Hotels, Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) and Mediamax Group top the list of Kenyatta business units on the charge – having either recently acquired rival firms, announced plans to expand or opened subsidiaries across the border
  • Brookside Dairy just completed a Sh1.1 billion acquisition of rival Buzeki Dairy – the maker of the popular Molo Milk brand and topped it up with the establishment of a 1,500-litre capacity milk cooling plant in Narok

Uhuru Kenyatta’s assumption of the presidency has injected fresh energy into his family’s commercial empire, putting a number of its units on an expansion mode that is expected to consolidate its position as one of the largest business dynasties in Kenya.

The business empire that is associated with Kenya’s founding president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta has in recent months made fresh bets in the hospitality, dairy, media and banking sectors – and in foreign markets where it is seeking to buy existing players or launch green-field operations.

The investments come at a time when the second generation of the Kenyattas has taken full charge of the family business and the country’s politics, attracting attention with every single move.

Brookside Dairy, Heritage Hotels, Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) and Mediamax Group top the list of Kenyatta business units on the charge – having either recently acquired rival firms, announced plans to expand or opened subsidiaries across the border. Brookside, a milk processor and one of the family’s flagship companies, is leading the new investments charge with mega acquisitions and expansion to areas it has to date not covered.

The dairy firm has just completed a Sh1.1 billion acquisition of rival Buzeki Dairy – the maker of the popular Molo Milk brand and topped it up with the establishment of a 1,500-litre capacity milk cooling plant in Narok.

Buzeki is Brookside’s latest takeover of a rival firm in a series that has seen it take control of Ilara, Delamere and SpinKnit (makers of Tuzo milk brand).

The acquisitions have pushed Brookside’s share of the processed milk market to 44 per cent, cementing its position as the Kenya’s largest dairy firm. Brookside has also cast its eye across the border into neighbouring Ethiopia where it is seeking to acquire a 20 per cent stake in a local milk processor, Elemtu Dairy.

If successful, this will be Brookside’s first investment outside Kenya and a learning point for its declared interest in entering Nigeria—Africa’s most populous country.

Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), a mid-tier lender that is controlled by the Kenyatta family, has also recently been on the charge with the launch of an even more ambitious cross-border expansion plan that would see it establish a presence in 10 markets including Malawi, Botswana and Rwanda in the next decade.

CBA, which is Kenya’s largest non-listed lender with a total asset base of Sh100 billion, already has operations in Uganda and Tanzania.

The bank has grown to become the second largest in the retail market with its new mobile-banking product M-Shwari brand – developed jointly with Safaricom – and which has helped raise the number of the bank’s deposit accounts to more than five million from 34,884 in 2011.

The bank has shaken up its board and appointed President Kenyatta’s lawyer Desterio Oyatsi as chairman following the death of former chairman Mirabeau Da Gama Rose.

Mr Oyatsi took over from the President’s younger brother, Muhoho Kenyatta, who doubled as acting chairman and deputy chairman following the demise of Mr Da Gama Rose.

In recent months, the Kenyattas have also awakened their hospitality giant Heritage Hotels East Africa with the appointment of seasoned hotelier Mohammed Hersi as chief executive and the announcement of an expansion plan that aims at giving it a presence in the Kenyan capital Nairobi for the first time.

Until it tapped Mr Hersi from Sarova Hotels, Heritage has been without a substantive CEO in the past four years following the exit of David Stogdale and has been under the care of Muhoho.

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