Companies

Moi family gets Sh1.7bn for firm stake sale to Kuwaiti

siginon

Siginon Aviation warehouse. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The family of the late President Daniel Moi will receive Sh1.7 billion for selling a majority stake in logistics firm Siginon Aviation to a Kuwait-based company.
  • National Aviation Services (NAS) signed a deal to acquire a 51 percent stake in Siginon Aviation.
  • Multiple lawyers advising on the deal said the Moi family will be paid Sh1.708 billion for the stake.

The family of the late President Daniel Moi will receive Sh1.7 billion for selling a majority stake in logistics firm Siginon Aviation to a Kuwait-based company.

National Aviation Services (NAS) signed a deal to acquire a 51 percent stake in Siginon Aviation — a subsidiary of Siginon Group Limited which provides airport ground handling and cargo management services.

Multiple lawyers advising on the deal said the Moi family will be paid Sh1.708 billion for the stake, making it the second major deal involving the kin of the former President and his associates in recent months.

Close associates of Mr Moi, who died in February last year, received Sh1.4 billion for selling a majority stake in Transnational Bank to Access Bank, a top Nigerian lender.

Access Bank is owned by business mogul Herbert Wigwe.

The Moi family is reported to have had a significant direct stake in Transnational.

The Sh1.7 billion payout from the Siginon deal underlines the grand wealth associated with Mr Moi, who dominated Kenyan politics for almost a quarter of a century. The property include homes, land and dozens of major business firms in the country.

NAS does cargo handling in major airports across the world and has a presence in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. It also provides services to more than half of the world’s top 10 airlines.

Kenya is the latest market where the firm is launching its operations, having opened shop in countries like South Africa, DRC, Guinea Bissau and Zambia.

“A combination of NAS’s global presence and expertise in airport services with Siginon Aviation’s experience in Kenya will successfully strengthen the ground handling, ramp handling and cargo handling capabilities in the region, especially in East Africa,” said NAS chief executive Hassan El-Houry.

NAS portfolio of services includes ramp and passenger services, cargo handling, engineering and line maintenance, airport technologies and aviation training.

The Moi family owns Siginon Group together with his former personal assistant Joshua Kulei, who has a 12 percent stake.

Records at the Company Registry show a number of firms own Siginon Group, including Prize Holding Limited, which has a 42 percent stake, and Trade World Kenya with 10 percent.

Others are Kabarak Farm (26 percent), Sacho High School Trust (six percent), Mogotiyo Plantations (10 percent) and Moi High School Kabarak (six percent)--all of which are directly linked to the former President.

The Moi family is arguably one of the richest in Kenya, based on the business empire it has built over years, with a net worth estimated at tens of billions.

This is wealth accumulated before, during and after the former President’s 24-year rule (1978- 2002), with his children, among them Baringo Senator Gideon Moi expanding the family dynasty further.

Kenya’s second President remained powerful years after he left State House, with his businesses playing a major role in the economy.

According to official and non-official records, the family’s business empire spans real estate, transport, education, hotel industry, banking, aviation, manufacturing, media, agri-business, security and construction.

The list of property and investments owned or co-owned by the Moi family and its partners is long.

The major investment partners include the family of the late Nicholas Biwott, the former president’s political right-hand man, and Mr Kulei.

Siginon, which is headquartered at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), has three subsidiaries that run different functions.

The firm’s flagship business is Siginon Global Logistics, which provides cargo transportation by sea, air, road and rail.

It also owns Siginon Container Freight Station— which clears cargo bound for outside Kenya from the Mombasa port.

These two units are not part of the proposed NAS deal, which the Competition Authority of Kenya approved last week.

Since 2010, Siginon Aviation has been upgrading its ground handling capacity, including the launch of a new cargo terminal and the acquisition of ramp equipment to boost its operations at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

The upgrade included a 5,000 square metre general cargo warehouse, a 3,000 square metre perishables centre, a 2,000 square metre basement parking for transit vehicles and a specialised storage area for dangerous, valuable and temperature sensitive cargo.

In 2018, NAS committed to investing $50 million into the African aviation sector over a period of three years. However, this was slowed down last year following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr El-Houry said NAS experienced an 85 percent drop in revenue as a result of a slowdown in business in the logistics sector across the globe.

“Despite the challenges, we remained focused on our commitment to the sector, he said.