Bidco owners join Merali in Forbes billionaires’ list


Forbes' Africa Richest survey last year placed the wealth of Bidco CEO Vimal Shah (in foreground), his younger brother and father at $1.6 billion (Sh138 billion). This year, his father is on the list at only $700 million (Sh63 billion). PHOTO | FILE

The owners of Bidco Oil Refineries have joined Naushad Merali in this year’s list of Forbes Africa’s richest.

The survey, which is ranking African tycoons for the third consecutive year, places the wealth of Vimal Shah – the CEO of the edible oil firm -- his younger brother and father at $1.6 billion (Sh137.6 billion).

This placed them at position 18 among the 50 personalities ranked by Forbes, which places businessman Merali at position 48 with a fortune estimated to be worth $430 million (Sh36.9 billion).

“We calculated net worth using stock prices and exchange rates from the close of business on Friday, November 1,” Forbes Africa said in its report released late Wednesday evening.

“To value privately-held businesses we couple estimates of revenues or profits with prevailing price-to-sales or price-to-earnings ratios for similar public companies.”
Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote was for the third year running named the continent’s richest individual with a fortune of $20.8 billion.

Mr Shah, 53, and his family join two Kenyans in a rota dominated by South and West Africa investors.

Though businessman Manu Chandaria and the Kenyatta family have been previously ranked among the wealthiest Kenyans, Forbes left them out of this year’s survey because the US firm could not ascertain the “principal custodian” of their investments.  

“We do include wealth belonging to a member’s immediate relatives if the wealth can be traced to one living individual; in that case, you’ll see “& family” on our list as an indication.”

But Nigerian publication Ventures Africa last month picked Mr Chandaria as the richest Kenyan and Africa’s 25th with a fortune of $1.65 billion (Sh142 billion).

It also recognised Mama Ngina, the mother of Kenya’s fourth President, Uhuru Kenyatta, with a net worth of $1 billion (Sh86 billion) same as former politician Nicholas Biwott and Mr Merali, who both made their money during the era of President Moi.

READ: Mama Ngina, Biwott in Africa billionaires list

President Kenyatta, who was in 2011 ranked 26th by Forbes, and has since last year missed from the list because the wealth apportioned to him like CBA Bank, Brookside and Heritage Hotels are under the family’s name.

Some of Bidco’s products include Elianto, Golden Fry, Power Boy, and Kuku bar soap among several others which are distributed in 14 countries across Africa.

This has seen a secure a market share of 49 per cent with revenues of over $500 million (Sh43 billion), according to Forbes.

Nine places

“In 1985, Vimal Shah, his father and younger brother started manufacturing soaps and in 2002, they acquired a significant portion of Unilever’s edible oil businesses,” reads part of Forbes’ statement on Bidco.

Mr Shah and family were also singled out for his investment in Tatu City, the $3 billion (Sh258 billion) residential and commercial city satellite city to be built in Kiambu.

Mr Merali of Sameer Group saw his ranking fall nine places from last year but he still made the cut in the ranking that was for the first time increased by 10 slots to reach 50.

Mr Merali chairs a 15 subsidiary-strong conglomerate with interests in sectors like agriculture, information technology, telecom and finance.

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