In Summary
  • They may not all have made it to the Forbes’ list of the richest men and women in Africa, but these Kenyan businessmen have made their billions by knowing where to invest and when to do so.

It has been a good year for the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), and the biggest winners have been top shareholders whose wealth has been on the up and up.

In just three months to December 2013, Peter Kahara Munga saw his wealth increase by Sh1.5 billion from his stake in Britam, whose share price has risen by 84 per cent in the last three months. He made his first billion at Equity Bank, where he is chairman.

Mr Munga is only one of the many Kenyans who are reaping millions of shillings from the NSE and in the process increasing their net worth by several million shillings. In this group, you will count Jimnah Mbaru, Baloobhai Patel and James Mwangi.

Gains from this market in the recent past have seen both Kenyan and foreign investors record major financial gains. Most of the top gainers have diversified businesses ranging from real estate, industries and owning stocks in some of the thriving public and private companies in the country.

James Mwangi

Equity Bank’s chief executive James Mwangi has a stake of 4.88 per cent in the bank, both directly and indirectly, according to the bank’s financial report for December 2012.

This puts his stake in the bank at about Sh6 billion, making him one of the country’s wealthiest CEOs.

Equity Bank’s chief executive James Mwangi.

Chris Kirubi

Flamboyant businessman Chris Kirubi increased his wealth by Sh1.5 billion following the rise in Centum shares a few months ago. He is the largest shareholder.

Businessman Chris Kirubi.

Last year, Pradeep Paunrana, the managing director of Athi River Mining, became the largest shareholder of the cement firm following the distribution of shares by the company among family members. His 18 per cent stake is currently worth about Sh7.57 billion, as at this week.

But despite Kenya’s rich getting richer, one wonders how come very few of them have been mentioned, leave alone appeared on the top African billionaire lists. These lists are mainly dominated by South Africans, Nigerians and Egyptians.

In this year’s Forbes Africa’s richest, released in November, only two Kenyans featured - new entrant Vimal Shah, 53 and Naushad Merali, 62.

Mr Shah, the chief executive of edible oil firm Bidco Oil Refinery, along with his younger brother and father were ranked 18th with a net worth of $1.6 billion (Sh137.6 billion).

The three started manufacturing soaps in 1985 and in 2002, they acquired a significant portion of Unilever’s edible oil business thereby growing their market share.

“Forbes did the research and valuation on their own and did not involve me in any way,” said Mr Shah in a phone interview with BDLife.

“I think this is speculation because the figures they have published are not accurate. I think there are more people who should be in that list, including you (in reference to the journalist doing the interview.)”

He said when he followed up with Forbes about this, it was explained to him that since Unilever in Nigeria has an annual turnover of $340 million and a market capitalisation of $1.4 billion, then Bidco, with a turnover of $500 million was estimated to be worth $1.6 billion.

Some of Bidco’s products include Elianto, Golden Fry, Power Boy, and Kuku bar soap among several others which are distributed in 14 countries across Africa bringing in revenue of over $500 million (Sh43 billion), according to Forbes.

Mr Shah and family were also singled out for his investment in Tatu City, the $3 billion (Sh258 billion) residential and commercial city satellite city to be built in Kiambu County.

Page 1 of 2