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Uhuru, Kirubi drop from Forbes rich list

Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 00:00 -- BY NZAU MUSAU
Uhuru Kenyatta
Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta during a press conference on restructuring loans at treasury yesterday. Photo/Monicah Mwangi
KDN
Sameer group of companies chairman Naushad Merali addresses the media during the opening of the Kenya Data Networks headquarters at the Sameer park.HEZRON NJOROGE

DEPUTY Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has been dropped from the latest Forbes list of the 40 richest Africans. Uhuru was dropped from the list after the magazine said it had obtained fresh information regarding Uhuru's wealth which disqualifies him from the list.

The organization said Uhuru's perceived wealth—mainly in land holdings — is held up in the Kenyatta family name. The magazine says that Uhuru and the Kenyatta family own over 500,000 acres of Kenyan land worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

“But here’s the problem: The Kenyatta family is a very large one and it’s not certain at the moment that Uhuru, who aims to become president during the country’s elections next year, is the principal custodian of these assets. Hence, he’s been dropped off the list,” Forbes website explained.

Forbes said besides land holdings, the family also owns a stake in the Commercial Bank of Africa, the Brookside dairy company and a television station—K24. Uhuru's place at the top 40 appears to have been taken up by another Kenyan, businessman Naushad Merali.

Another Kenyan appearing on the list is Royal Media Services owner S.K. Macharia who the magazine names on its top 10 list of people to watch. These are the people the magazine says may make it into the top 40 list of Africa's millionaires next year.

On Merali, the magazine says: “Naushad Merali, an Asian-Kenyan tycoon, knows how to make profitable deals. In 2000 with French media giant Vivendi, he launched Kencell, a Kenyan mobile phone services provider.

"In one of Kenya's most fabled business coups, in 2004 he convinced Vivendi to sell him its 60 per cent stake for $230 million. An hour later, he flipped it to billionaire Mo Ibrahim's Africa-focused Celtel for $250 million - earning a quick $20 million profit,” the website reports.

Merali is the head of Sameer Group, a 15-company conglomerate with activities in construction, agriculture, information technology, telecom and finance.

Three of his companies are listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange. He also serves as chairman of mobile phone company Bharti Airtel's Kenya operations.

Merali was featured in last year's list of 10 African millionaires to watch. This is the same list which now features SK Macharia and which Forbes says forms a base for “strong contenders for future membership.”

Of Macharia, Forbes says: “The Kenyan media mogul is the founder and chairman of Royal Media Services, a media conglomerate that owns the country’s dominant TV station, Citizen TV, as well as 11 English and local language radio stations.”

Nine other African millionaires who appeared in last year's Top 40 list with Uhuru have also been dropped. Egyptian billionaire Mohammed Al Fayed whose son Dodi Al Fayed died alongside former Princess of Wales, Diana in 1997 was dropped because he does not live in Africa and because most of his assets are in the UK.

Amongst Fayed's business interests are ownership of the English Premiership football team Fulham Football Club, Hôtel Ritz Paris and Harrods, an upmarket department store in London which he sold to the emirate of Qatar in May 2010 and the 65,000 acre Balnagowan estate in Northern Scotland, HJW Geospatial, a US mapping company among other interests.

Al Fayed and the others were dropped because they were simply not rich enough this year. Last year's minimum net worth neeeded to make the list was $250 million. The figure grew up to $400 million this year knocking off most of those who were at the bottom of the 2011 list.

Among these is Kenya's own magnate Chris Kirubi, the owner of Capital FM. Kirubi is listed as owning significant stake in International House Limited and a 49 per cent stake in Tiger Haco Industries.

“He’s also the largest individual shareholder in Centum Limited, a Nairobi Stock Exchange-listed investment firm. His net worth last year was $300 million—not enough to make the 2012 list,” Forbes said.

Others dropped included four South Africans— banker Paul Harris, co-founder and former CEO of FirstRand Limited; Markus Jooste of Steinhoff International Holdings Ltd, a South African furniture manufacturer and retailer ceramic tile retailer Giovanni Ravazzotti; Adrian Gore CEO of Discovery Holdings Ltd, one of the largest medical aid administrator, and Capitec Bank CEO Michiel le Roux.

Also bumped off the list are Moroccan businessman Mohamed Bensalah CEO of Holding Holmarcom which has interests in finance, distribution and logistics, air service, real estate and insurance and Zimbabwean tycoon Strive Masiyiwa, founder of Econet Wireless.

Africa's richest man remains Nigeria's self made businessman Aliko Dangote owner of owner of the Dangote Group, which has interests in commodities. His wealth is estimated at US$12 billion.

"Africa is no longer big enough for Aliko Dangote, the continent's richest man. His flagship company, Dangote Cement, is Africa's largest cement manufacturer, with operations in 14 African countries," Forbes says.