Markets & Finance

Delameres divide Sh5bn estate in succession plan


The main entrance to Lord Delamere’s Soysambu Ranch in Naivasha, Nakuru County. The family is planning to divide the vast Sh5 billion estate among heirs. FILE

The Delamere family is for first time in more than 100 years subdividing its Sh5 billion Naivasha-based estate as part of a succession plan involving grandsons of the settler farmer.

The aristocrats have registered a new company, Ngombe Limited, to inherit some 1,680 steers and 792 cows in their stable and a separate entity to hold the real estate property.

Each steer is estimated to cost Sh65,000 while a cow is priced at Sh140,000, meaning the company is starting with an asset base of about Sh215 million.

The Delameres have also registered Land Limited to hold its real estate property among them the over 50,000 acres Soysambu Ranch in Naivasha, which is estimated to be worth more than Sh5 billion.

News of the succession plan came from documents the family has filed with the Competition Authority and a subsequent notice in the Kenya Gazette authorising the transaction.

“The Competition Authority authorises the acquisition of 1,680 heads of steers and 792 heads of cows from Delamere Estates Limited by Ngombe Limited,” reads a statement from the authority.

The family was not mandated to file the information with the authority but did so to avoid future succession conflicts.

Attempts to get a comment from Tom Cholmondeley, a grandson of Lord Delamere, were unsuccessful and the estates managing director, Nelson Rotich declined to respond to our questions insisting that it was a purely private matter.

Sources, however, informed the Business Daily that the sale is meant to free the hands of Delamere’s descendants to take ownership of and make use of their inheritance as they wished.

The Delamere properties have been under the care of Lord Hugh Cholmondeley, the Fifth Baron Delamere, since 1979. The 79-year old is father of Tom Cholmondeley, better known for twice killing trespassers at the Soysambu Ranch.

Mr Cholmodeley was in 2009 found guilty of manslaughter after the death of a mason, Robert Njoya, who he accused of poaching in the Soysambu Ranch.

He got an eight- month imprisonment sentence for the killing, having been held in custody since the shooting incident in 2006. He served only five months and was released early for good conduct.

In the second case, Mr Cholmondeley was once again arrested for shooting game ranger Samson ole Sisina in 2005 following what was termed as a distress call from his staff.

The two killings caused a publicity crisis in the Delamere empire as activists called on consumers to boycott Delamere dairy products, claiming that Mr Cholmondeley had used his influence to escape full responsibility for his crimes.

The boycotts forced the aristocrats to lease out their dairy business to Brookeside and to move some of their stock to Njoro. The Delamere Milk Shop, on the Nakuru-Nairobi Highway has remained a favourite rest spot for many travellers.

Mr Cholmondeley’s actions have been the only reason that the older Delameres, who according to locals treasure their privacy, have come out in the public.  

The huge tracts of land that the family owns were acquired by the third baron Delamere, Hugh Cholmondeley, from the British Crown colony in 1901.

Lord Delamere was considered the unofficial leader of the European community in Kenya during the colonial era and had central Nairobi’s main road thoroughfare Kenyatta Avenue named after him.

An eight-foot bronze statue was erected on the street opposite the Stanley Hotel to commemorate the man famed for his wild living. The statue now stands in the Soysambu Ranch facing Lake Elementaita, where one of the surrounding hills - Delamere’s Nose- also bears his name.

Until now, management of the property has flowed down the Delamare family tree without subdivision.

Mr Cholmondeley is the only child of the current baron. He has two sons, Hugh and Henry, with his first wife, Dr Sally. Tom is said to be more interested in conservancy efforts and tourism and has served as the chairman of Nakuru Wildlife Conservancy for three terms.

The Delameres have in the recent past leased out part of the land to hoteliers with Tom as the main deal maker. Top leisure and recreation facilities located in the Delamere property include Serena Hotel, Mawe Mbili Camp, Mbweha Camp and the proposed Delamere Camp.

The family also manages the Soysambu Conservancy, which hosts a wide variety of wild animals including buffaloes, giraffes, antelopes and warthogs.

The Delameres have donated part of their vast land holdings to a local school named after the estate matriarch, Lady Ann Delamere, a local Sacco and sold 5,000 acres to its retiring staff at discounted prices.

They family recently sold of 300 acres near Nakuru town to the government to host an airstrip and a school, Delamere Girls.

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