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Society & Success

Murder probe thrusts media shy ex-corporate guru into the limelight



ILLUSTRATION | STANLAUS MANTHI
ILLUSTRATION | STANLAUS MANTHI 

Today he walks into the courtroom to await the magistrate’s decision on whether or not he will be prosecuted for murder.

It could be the end of probably one of the longest weeks of his life during which he has been locked up at the Karen police station and away from the comfort of his palatial home in the leafy suburb of the city.

It could also be the beginning of a dark chapter that may be full of turmoil if the police find sufficient evidence to charge him with murder.

When he first appeared before Kibera Resident Magistrate Charles Ondieki on Monday this week, the British national looked pale and not even the flashy blue jacket and purple shirt that he wore could bring back the warmth and full-of -life gait that was the hallmark of Richard Alden— the business executive.

The police had applied for a 14- day detention period but the court granted them five to allow for a postmortem examination, ballistic examination of the cartridges and determination of the suspect’s status in the country from the immigration department.

The former CEO at Wananchi Group had maintained a low profile during his two-year stint at the helm of the East Africa Internet and entertainment company, shying away from direct contact with the media or “unnecessary” media coverage outside his professional duties.

Last Saturday’s shooting of a female visitor identified as Ms Grace Wangechi Kinyanjui at his home in Karen has however dragged Mr Alden into local and international limelight.

The 53-year-old Briton was arrested after he told police that the woman he was with for the better part of Saturday had “shot hersel dead” in his house.

During his time at Wananchi, Mr Alden kept away from the cameras and delegated the task of communicating on his company’s strategy and new products to its internal and external media handlers. He seldom granted media interviews.

He is an equally privateperson outside of work. Most of his neighbours in Karen, some of whom also work in the ICT sector, know nothing much about him other than that he is a former CEO of Wananchi Group.

According to information on his LinkedIn, Mr Alden worked in London as a senior manager at Deloitte for 11 years from 1985.

In 1998 he relocated to Madrid where he became chief executive officer of ONO, one of Spain’s biggest cable operators and in 2010 was based in Ohio, US, as European president of TOA Technologies.

He moved to Kenya in 2013 to become CEO of Wananchi Group, the owners of Zuku brand, until November 2015. He took over from Richard Bell who has since assumed the role of a non-executive vice-chairman of the board.

His LinkedIn profile also lists him as chairman of private investment fund Sofianader Capital and as non-executive director of Spanish telecommunications firm Euskaltel up until last month.

According to his Facebook profile, which has now been taken down, Mr Alden is from Cowbridge, a Welsh town seven miles from Cardiff.According to the Telegraph of UK, electoral records show that Mr Alden and his wife Martine, with whom he has three children, lived in Wimbledon, West London, in the mid-1990s.

Martine manages property rentals in Chelsea, London and in Costa de la Luz, Spain.

His local friends say Alden’s rise from the COO position which he only held for nine months, to that of a CEO, can be attributed to his old networks of friends, especially those from France.

During his tenure at Wananchi, one of the most notable products he introduced was Kombat Sports— an all-fight sports channel, aired from France, which features action oriented games such as boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, karate, taekwondo and kungfu.

Another offering from France was MCS International that brings exclusive premium sport content, including football. It mainly features the MLS (US league), Russian League, French National league, Everton TV, Chelsea TV, Barça TV, Bayern TV, Marseille TV, Juventus Channel, basketball, volleyball, tennis and golf.

It is also during his tenure that Wananchi set up a round-the-clock security surveillance network that will facilitate community policing in conjunction with the Kenya Police Service and Runda Residents Association.

Barely three weeks after his appointment as the CEO, Wananchi Group signed a contract with Kenyacam, a subsidiary of CAMUSAT, to exclusively develop the triple play build project for Wananchi and manage all departments completely: engineering, logistics, procurement, construction, maintenance, subscriber connection, after sales service, as well as the supervision centre for various technologies.

Wananchi and Kenyacam’s objective was to build modern fibre optic networks to provide service to up to 500.000 residential homes in Kenya over the next four years.

At the time of his departure, Wananchi refused to comment on the reasons for earlier termination of Mr Alden’s contract.

Reliable sources however told Business Daily that there was a fallout between him and the board in regard to some contracts signed during his tenure.

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