New Mumias CEO hopes to be fourth-time lucky

Mumias Sugarcane delivery. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Mumias Sugarcane delivery. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Newly appointed Mumias Sugar Company #ticker:MSC boss Nashon Aseka is set to face an acid test in the latest attempt to turn around the cash-strapped miller.

Mr Aseka is the fourth to take the Mumias’ corner office since the exit of Evans Kidero, who was the last chief executive of the miller to announce a profit. Peter Kebati, Coutts Otolo and Errol Johnston have all sat on the Mumias hot seat in the past five years.

The Mumias board on Friday confirmed the appointment of Mr Aseka as chief executive, marking a return to the miller where he once worked as a factory manager before moving to the Agriculture and Food Authority’s Sugar Directorate.

“This is to announce to the public that the board has appointed Mr Nashon Aseka as the CEO of Mumias Sugar Company Limited effective 15th June 2017,” read a statement signed by board chairman Kennedy Mulwa.

In April, Nzoia sugarcane farmers rejected Mr Aseka when he was appointed to head the miller. The loss-making miller has gulped Sh2 billion from the government in bail outs without any visible turnaround.

The listed firm reported a half-year net loss of Sh2.92 billion in the period to December 2016, compared to Sh1.56 billion the previous year.

The firm has also given a profit warning with earnings expected to drop by more than 25 per cent for the year ending June 2017 from its Sh4.73 billion loss reported last year.

“Mumias Sugar Company Limited hereby announces that the projected loss for the year ending June 30, 2017 will be more than 25 per cent compared to the loss reported in the same period last year,” the firm’s chairman Kennedy Mulwa said in a regulatory filing in February.

The Jubilee government has promised to give an additional Sh3.6 billion to bail out the miller.

Mr Aseka has also worked in Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology and at the defunct Sugar Board.

Mr Errol Johnston who has been at the helm of the miller went for a terminal leave before his two year renewable term ends in August.

The management transition comes shortly after a recent board overhaul which saw the entry of Mr Mulwa, replacing Dan Ameyo who opted not put himself up for reelection during Mumias annual general meeting held in December 2016.

Like other State-owned millers, the government has been protecting Mumias from cheaper imports by trade barriers but mismanagement, outdated farming methods and corruption has seen the firms sink deeper into the red over time.