Steel tycoon Narendra Raval in race to rescue ailing Mumias Sugar


Narendra Raval, chairman, Devki Group of Companies during an interview at his Ruiru office on April 19, 2021. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Steel tycoon Narendra Raval is seeking to revive Mumias Sugar through a leasing deal that seeks to save the once top miller.

Mr Raval, who founded Kenyan steel and cement manufacturer Devki Group, confirmed his bid in leasing tender that attracted eight firms.

Loss-making Mumias Sugar Company was in September 2019 placed under receivership by KCB Group to protect its assets and maintain its operations.

Under the leasing deal, the successful firm will run the plant on behalf of KCB after it defaulted on loans amounting to Sh545 million owed to the lender, which successfully pushed the process through the courts.

“I am among the eight individuals who have been shortlisted over the taking over of Mumias through leasing. I would be very happy if I emerge the best as my main objective will be to revive the factory and give back the livelihood to over a million people who relied on the firm,” said Mr Raval.

Mr Raval said he is ready to pump in the required cash to return the giant miller to productivity after years of inactivity resulting from financial woes.

Sources at the factory told the Business Daily that Mr Raval is likely to be picked basing on his success in running steel and cement factories coupled with his financial muscle.

The firm requires hundreds of millions to get back into operations. The funds are to be used in buying worn out spare parts.

Mumias has been relying on ethanol as the main source of income after other revenue streams such as production of water, cogeneration and sugar production were closed.

The Devki Group of Companies that he founded have manufacturing revenue in excess of $650 million annually. Forbes has estimated his personal net worth to be in excess of $500 million.

Last year, National Cement Company, which is owned by Mr Raval, paid Sh5 billion to complete its purchase of ARM Cement assets in Kenya.

Mr Raval, who made his initial fortune in the steel industry, has been expanding his cement empire over the last two years.

In preparation for the likely takeover of the company, most employees at the factory have not been reporting to work for the last one month as currently there are no activities going on with management changes expected to happen with the change of guard.

The potential investors have over the last couple of weeks been conducting surveys at the firm including carrying out cane census to establish the availability of raw material.

Mumias, majority-owned by the government and for a long time Kenya’s largest miller, struggled to remain afloat even after the government pumped in about Sh3 billion.