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Aly-Khan Satchu battles to clear name in Kenol share row

 Aly-Khan Satchu
Rich management CEO Aly-Khan Satchu. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

Aly-Khan Satchu is no stranger to the limelight in Kenya, having spent the last 12 years as one of the most active commentators on all things markets, economy and geopolitics.

Since last October, however, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) has sought to shine a different light on him, accusing the University of Durham law graduate of insider trading on the KenolKobil #ticker:KENO stock ahead of a takeover bid by French firm Rubis Energie.

In response, he has gone to court in a bid to clear his name.

Looking back, there have been few players in the financial markets in Kenya who have invested as much time and effort to build a personal brand like Mr Satchu.

It is this image of a successful, sleek investor with a background in the City of London investment banks that is at risk due to the KenolKobil insider trading allegations that have captured the imagination of players in the market, due to the huge sums of money involved.

The British passport holder, who was born in Mombasa, arrived back on the local scene in 2006 after spending a decade-and-a-half in the world of high finance in London.

Quite simply, the local market scene had not hosted someone with his stat line for a long time — a City of London trader boasting of a CV listing some of the biggest names in global finance.

He had practised his craft at Credit Suisse First Boston, Sumitomo Finance International, ANZ Investment Bank and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein where he rose to head various trading desks.

And he could not have timed his entry into the Kenyan market better, coming in during the halcyon days of a booming Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) when everyone with a shilling in their pocket was looking to invest in initial public offerings of companies such as Kenya Electricity Generating Company, ScanGroup and Eveready.

The self-confessed risk-taker immediately hit the market with a book titled Anyone Can be Rich: All You Need to Know About the NSE, which offered advice to investors on a wide range of topics — from selecting a stockbroker to picking stocks, avoiding investment euphoria to knowing when to exit a stock.

This introduction set the stage for him to launch his Rich Management platform, on which he is now an NSE data vendor — although he says the platform transmits the data on the website for free — and investment adviser targeting high-net-worth individuals.

He has also become well known for hosting the Mindspeak business club, where an array of industry captains regularly show up to share their wisdom, further marketing Satchu’s brand among the business community in the city.

It has also helped that he has perfected the language of the market, always ready with a neat turn of phrase that signals he is a polished player in the global markets.

More than any other stocks agent in the country, Mr Satchu has latched on to the reach and power of social media to grow his brand and network, something he has not relented on even in the face of the allegations against him.

The court filings have thus revealed a man who is now part of the fabric in the local business and social scene.

For instance, he is a member of the Muthaiga Golf Club, Kenya’s premier club, which counts among its membership the cream of the business and political elite.

He is also a board member of Base Resources, the firm mining titanium in Kwale.

The father of three, the elder two in UK universities and the youngest in a high-end private school in Nairobi, now faces a stiff battle to clear his name of the allegations made against him by the markets regulator.

Perhaps the identity of the company at the centre of the allegations has also added to the intrigue.

For long KenolKobil has been associated with secrecy, allied to the nature of its long-time owner, the late Kanu era powerful minister Nicholas Biwott.

It is, therefore, hard to tell how this one will end, but there will certainly be no shortage of interest in the matter.

Long used to seeing him on screens and print pages commenting on the economy and markets, Kenyans are now keenly awaiting the conclusion of the investigation on the man who says his career is built on taking risks.

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