Laila Macharia steps out as the new boardroom queen


Laila Macharia, CEO Scion Real Estate Ltd, is now a director at Barclays Kenya in addition to her July appointment to the Capital Markets Authority tribunal. PHOTO | FILE

Real estate consultant Laila Macharia has bagged four directorship positions in slightly more than one year, emerging as a boardroom favourite for organisations seeking to tap her skills in the vibrant property sector.

Ms Macharia was last week appointed a non-executive director of Barclays Bank of Kenya, adding to her July appointment as a member of the Capital Markets Authority tribunal.

Last year, she was appointed to the boards of investment firm Centum in October and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) in April.

The quick succession of appointments reflects a desire by different organisations to tap her extensive contacts and experience in the legal and real estate sectors.

Ms Macharia is the founder and CEO of Scion Real Estate Ltd, an advisory firm covering financial services, infrastructure and property investment.

The company’s clients are drawn from private companies, pension funds and governments in East Africa. They include PE firm Actis, mortgage firm Housing Finance, Safaricom, UAP Holdings and the government of Kenya.

Centum and Barclays, in particular, expect to benefit from Ms Macharia’s expertise in the real estate sector where they are making significant investments.

Ms Macharia, 42, associates herself with Centum’s two major real estate ventures: Two Rivers in Nairobi and Pearl Marina in Entebbe.

Centum has been engaged in multi-billion-shilling fundraisers for the projects, including through the sale of shares and structuring of debt finance and joint ventures deals.

READ: Centum cedes 42pc of Two Rivers venture to investors at Sh6bn

Barclays Kenya is looking to tap Ms Macharia’s skills in real estate where it is set to lend substantial sums as part of plans to expand its mortgage loans book.

“We want to work with high quality professionals in our mortgage business,” Barclays Kenya CEO Jeremy Awori told the Business Daily.

The bank is setting up a mortgage centre where an agglomeration of professionals, including lawyers and valuers, will guide its real estate financing.

Besides real estate, Ms Macharia has extensive experience in the legal profession. She is a corporate lawyer allowed to practice in Kenya and the US (New York and Maryland).

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Planning from the University of Oregon, a Juris Doctor and Master of Laws from Cornell University and a doctorate in Law from Stanford University.

The non-profit organisations that have appointed her to their boardrooms are also seeking to leverage on her extensive contacts and legal skills.

CMA’s tribunal, for instance, is a quasi-judicial body mandated to resolve disputes in the capital markets. It is not yet clear whether Ms Macharia will opt to sit on the tribunal expected to hear a dispute involving Centum, where she is a director.

Centum, which has put up a Sh75 per share bid for Rea Vipingo, wants CMA to disqualify a competing offer by two British bothers, the Robinows, saying it is illegal.

The brothers are currently majority shareholders of the agricultural firm.

The Business Daily’s attempts to reach Ms Macharia for comment were not successful.

Besides the corporate world, Ms Macharia is believed to have significant contacts in the public sector, making her valuable to Kepsa whose main goal is to influence public policy.

She is married to Mugo Kibati, a former senior bureaucrat who headed the Vision 2030 Secretariat before leaving the agency to take up private sector roles such as a directorship in I&M Bank.