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CfC Bank puts Naivasha flower grower Karuturi up for sale

Employees of Karuturi Limited spray flowers in the past. PHOTO | FILE |
Employees of Karuturi Limited spray flowers in the past. PHOTO | FILE |   NATION MEDIA GROUP

A CfC Stanbic Bank-appointed receiver manager has put flower grower Karuturi Limited up for sale, putting on the line the fate of workers who are owed millions in salary arrears by the company.

PSJ Advisory Group Monday gave interested buyers up to the end of February to submit bids for the Naivasha-based flower firm.

Karuturi Ltd is one of the world’s top growers of roses, exporting more than one million stems annually. It was put under receivership early last year after failing to service a Sh383 million loan borrowed from CfC Stanbic.

“A detailed sales information memorandum regarding the business and assets will be made available to the interested parties on terms approved by receiver and manager,” PSJ Advisory said in a notice Monday.

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A trade union for plantation workers expressed concern over employees’ salary arrears following the announcement.

The Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) said it was yet to agree with receiver managers on the fate of pending union fees, salary arrears and unremitted National Social Security Fund contributions.

“We were surprised to see that an advertisement has been placed offering assets of Karuturi for sale yet we have not reached agreement on the fate of money owned to us as well as debts to outgrowers,” KPAWU deputy secretary general Thomas Kemboi told the Business Daily on phone.

“We thought the receivers had come in to turn the firm around and settle our debt but this is unlikely now. We are organising a meeting of all the agricultural employees association to take a firm position on this.”

Mr Kemboi, however, said the union would support a sale to new owners who promise to prioritise the workers’ plight.

The Karuturi workers had previously held several protests in a bid to force the firm’s managers – and later receiver managers – to pay up the salary arrears, to no avail.

The receiver managers list assets of the Naivasha-based firm as including more than 126 hectares of flower under greenhouse cover, eight hectares of open air rose cultivation and housing units for more than 2,000 workers.

This is the first time the receiver managers are offering assets of the cash-strapped firm for sale, after a string of lawsuits by suppliers seeking compensation for unsettled deliveries.

Apart from CfC Stanbic Bank’s loan, the Kenya Revenue Authority has also been demanding Sh962 million from the firm over alleged tax evasion through transfer pricing. All Pack Industries Limited has also been pushing for recovery of debts of undisclosed value.

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