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Naikuni’s Prudential appointment raises board positions to 8

Former Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA
Former Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA 

Former Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni has been appointed chairman of Prudential Life Assurance Kenya, a subsidiary of UK’s Prudential Plc, adding yet another feather on his decorated boardroom cap.

The appointment marks Mr Naikuni’s third boardroom appointment since leaving Kenya Airways in October 2014, and at least the eighth active directorship.

The successive appointments indicate an increasing number of companies that are seeking his corporate skills and networks developed over decades in both the public and private sector.

“Titus has a wealth of experience and I am pleased that Prudential Kenya is able to attract a chairman of his calibre,” said Prudential Africa chief executive Matt Lilley in a statement.

“I look forward to working with him as we further develop Prudential Kenya and continue to put our ambitious plans into action.”

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Prudential Plc, which is headquartered in the UK, re-entered the Kenyan market in 2014 with the takeover of Shield Assurance, the life assurance arm of the collapsed Blue Shield Insurance.

The multinational had operated an insurance firm in East Africa since 1930 but was forced to leave the local market in 1990 due to what it termed as a harsh operating environment.

He was replaced at the national carrier by Mbuvi Ngunze, who was previously the airline’s chief operating officer.

Airtel Kenya and the Rift Valley Railways (RVR) both appointed Mr Naikuni as chairman in November 2014, with the 62-year-old replacing Naushad Merali at the telco and Ngugi Kiuna at the railway operator.

Mr Naikuni also holds directorship in several firms including AccessKenya, Lafarge International Advisory Board and Servair France and Tata Chemicals Magadi.

He has previously been a board member of Kenya Power, East African Portland Cement Company, Housing Finance and Heritage Insurance. He is the chancellor of Eastern Kenya University.

Mr Naikuni has held several senior positions in the current and past administrations, including that of former President Daniel arap Moi when he was appointed in 1999 as part of the “Dream Team” tasked with turning around the economy.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nairobi.

Prudential, which is expanding in Africa, is betting on Mr Naikuni to help drive its growth strategy in the local market where its main competitors in the life business include Britam, Pan Africa, Jubilee and ICEA Lion.

“I look forward to working with the leadership team to continue to develop the business and provide innovative and high-quality products for its customers,” Mr Naikuni said in a statement.

“Prudential Kenya is part of one of the oldest and most strongly capitalised insurance companies in the world.

“It has already invested over a billion shillings in Kenya and is on track to create thousands of jobs by 2020.”

Prudential had earlier announced it had set aside a war chest of Sh1.5 billion to fund the operations of its local unit. It has undertaken an aggressive marketing campaign to boost its profile.

The company, renamed Shield Assurance to Prudential Kenya, is focusing on life insurance policies that are long term in nature.

Prudential’s takeover of Shield underlines the rise of mergers and acquisitions in Kenya’s insurance sector that has witnessed more than seven major deals in the past two years.

They include UK-based financial services firm Old Mutual’s Sh23 billion buyout of a 60.7 per cent stake in UAP Holdings from a group of shareholders including NSE-listed investment firm Centum.

This story has been edited to indicate that Mr Naikuni's active board positions are eight and not nine. Mr Naikuni is no longer a board member of Precision Air Tanzania.

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