EA Cables picks ex-Safaricom manager as CEO in revival bid


East African Cables new chief executive Peter Arina. PHOTO | FILE

East African Cables has hired a former Safaricom manager, Peter Arina, as its chief executive.

Mr Arina will be expected to revive the flagging fortunes of the cables manufacturer.

The East African Cables reported 14 per cent decline in its net profit to Sh341 million in the year ended December 2014, from Sh398 million a year earlier. Revenue grew by a tenth to Sh5.09 billion.

The new chief executive also takes office ahead of an impending entry into the cables market of a Sri Lankan company, Sierra Cables, which has announced plans to set up a manufacturing plant in Kenya.

The Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm is banking on Mr Arina’s decade-long stint at Safaricom where he was general manager in charge of the consumer business unit, to turn around its fortunes.

He replaces George Chege Mwangi who announced in July his intention to quit the company after being at the firm’s helm since 2008.

Mr Arina will take office on October 1, about two months after EA Cable’s completion of a Sh1 billion expansion of its Kitui Road factory.

“With this appointment, the company has both the leadership and the staff to build on its existing strengths and develop in the new directions that will ensure future sustainability and growth,” chairman Zeph Mbugua said in a statement.

Mr Arina joined Safaricom in November 2004 as chief commercial officer and rose through the ranks. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing) degree from the University of Nairobi.

Mr Mbugua, also chairman of TransCentury, owns 16.2 million shares of EA Cables, a stake that is presently valued at Sh187 million. EA Cables is owned 68.3 per cent by investment firm TransCentury.

Sierra Cables, a company listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, made the decision to open shop in Kenya after it completed a study on the feasibility of setting up a cable plant in Nairobi.

A steady pipeline of electricity generation and transmission projects, and the booming housing industry in Kenya and the region creates a ready market for its industrial wire and cables.

Treasury secretary Henry Rotich in 2013 amended the Public Procurement Act to include producers of electrical cables among the firms to be given priority in public spending, wooing cable makers into the Kenyan market.

Mr Arina left Safaricom in March, where he was in charge of the telco’s retail sales including airtime dealers, the M-Pesa agency network, Internet and data content. He was succeeded by Sylvia Mulinge.

Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore said the ‘restructuring’ which also saw Pauline Warui, director of consumer services, exit the company, was “necessitated by an appreciation that we as a business have become disconnected from our customers’ needs at various levels.”