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'UHURU IS RICHEST KENYAN'

Friday, November 18, 2011 - 00:00 -- BY FRANCIS MUREITHI

FORBES Magazine has listed Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta as worth US$500 million (Sh47.5 billion) making him the 26th richest person in Africa and the richest Kenyan in their line-up. Forbes released its list of the 40 richest Africans yesterday. The next Kenyan on the list is businessman Chris Kirubi at number 31 worth $300 million.

Forbes is famous for its annual global Rich List which reports the 1,000 richest people in the world. "Kenya's Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta is the son of Kenya's first President Jomo Kenyatta, and heir to some of the largest land holdings
in Kenya," Forbes stated.

The magazine claimed that Uhuru and the family own vast amounts of prime land across
the country. "The land was acquired by his father in the 1960s and 1970s
when the British colonial government and the World Bank funded a
settlement transfer fund scheme that enabled government officials and
wealthy Kenyans to acquire land from the British at very low prices," Forbes explains.

However the Kenyatta family has always insisted that its landholdings are not that extensive. Few, if any, land titles are likely to bear Uhuru Kenyatta's name. "Uhuru and his family also own Brookside Dairies, Kenya's largest dairy
company, as well as stakes in popular television station K24 and a
commercial bank in Nairobi, among other interests," Forbes states in its short section on Uhuru. 

Uhuru, the Kanu chairman,
has declared that he will be standing in the 2012 presidential election even if the ICC confirms that he should go for a full trial
on charges of crimes against humanity. "Even if the assessment of his personal wealth is exaggerated, the Forbes report can only help Uhuru at election time. His biggest selling point will be that he does not need to be corrupt because he is already wealthy," said a political analyst yesterday.

The Forbes list may not be completely accurate. Various families and individuals including former President Moi and his son Gideon are believed to be wealthier that the Kenyattas. The richest man in Africa is Nigerian Aliko Dangote, with a $10.1 billion
fortune based on his stake in publicly-traded Dangote Cement as well as his interests in flour milling,
sugar refining and salt processing.  The second richest man is South
African diamond magnate Nicky Oppenheimer with a $6.5 billion fortune.

Forbes focused on African citizens excluding
potential members like Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim who is a
UK citizen; South African-born Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of commodities
trader Glencore, who is Australian citizen; and former South African
billionaire Donald Gordon, now a British citizen and who lives
in the UK. "We calculated the fortunes using stock prices and currency
exchange rates from close of business Wednesday, November 2.

To value privately-held businesses we couple estimates of revenues or
profits with prevailing price-to-sales or price-to-earnings ratios for
similar public companies. "We have purposely excluded dispersed
family fortunes such as the Chandaria family of Kenya and the Madhvanis
of Uganda, because the wealth is believed to be held by dozens of family
members. We do include wealth belonging to a member’s immediate
relatives if the wealth can be traced to one living individual; in that
case, you’ll see “& family” on our list as an indication," said Forbes. 

In
September at the International
Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno
Ocampo asked if Uhuru was indeed a rich man. He replied that he
did not consider himself a poor person but did
not elaborate further.

Kirubi, 70, has built
an empire spanning real estate, manufacturing and investments. His real estate holdings include Nairobi’s International House
building. He is said to own residential and commercial
properties across the city, valued at more than $200 million.
“People say I
am one of the richest people in Kenya, but that’s not my concern,” he is
quoted by Forbes.

 

 

“When
I look around at my companies and see the number of people we have
employed, it gives me joy. It is more satisfying than having all the
money in the world,” he adds.

Kirubi started building his fortune in the early 1970s. After working for several
years at Kenatco, he began acquiring run-down residential and commercial
properties in Nairobi. He renovated them and flipped them for a
profit. Kirubi then acquired land in Nairobi’s choicest areas and erected commercial and residential
structures there.

In
1998 Kirubi acquired 100 per cent of Haco Industries, the Kenyan subsidiary of a Dutch trading house,
for an undisclosed sum. It became a
leading indigenous manufacturer of consumer products, including TCB
and Palmers.

In 2008 Haco formed a joint venture with Tiger Brands, one
of South Africa’s largest food manufacturers. Revenues of Haco
Tiger Industries were in excess of $33 million (Sh2.475 billion) in 2010. It employs
close to 700 people.

In 1998 Kirubi purchased
Capital FM. Kirubi
holds the largest individual stake in Centum Investments, a private
equity firm listed both on the Nairobi and Uganda stock exchanges
with a recent market capitalisation of $92 million. Centum holds
substantial stakes in Coca-Cola, Safaricom and Kenya Commercial Bank. Kirubi is the
largest individual shareholder in UAP Insurance, East Africa’s
third largest insurance company.