- As part of the deal which the company said would be finalised in the "coming months", locals will only remain with 15 percent of the shares after Browns Investment PLC takes ownership.
- In a statement, the company has stated it will continue to run the Saosa tea extraction facility.
James Finlays Kenya, a multinational firm owning tea farms in Bomet and Kericho has announced the sale of the estates to a Sri Lankan company.
As part of the deal which the company said would be finalised in the "coming months", locals will only remain with 15 percent of the shares after Browns Investment PLC takes ownership.
In a statement, the company has stated it will continue to run the Saosa tea extraction facility.
"Finlays, a leading global supplier of tea, coffee and botanical ingredients and solutions, has reached an agreement to sell its James Finlay Kenya tea estates business to Browns Investments PLC," a statement reads.
The decision is a huge blow to the two counties.
It comes hard on the heels of a recommendation by the National lands commission (NLC) giving the two counties full powers over the lands owned by multinationals.
Bomet had in fact begun acting on the recommendations as contained in a Gazzete Notice which include resurveying the farms as it seeks to exercise its authority in its management.
Through a petition, Chepchabas ward MCA Wesly Kiprotich wants the county to fast-track the resurveying, reconsideration of the leases, and review of land rates.
The Notice by NLC early last month was a result of a perennial dispute with the local communities.
While defending the move to pick the Sri Lankan firm, James Finlay said it conducted due diligence.
"After a robust process and careful consideration of the needs of everyone connected with the company, we are confident that Browns is the right owner to guide this unique business unit towards long-term sustainable growth which will ultimately benefit the community," the statement further stated.
It pointed out that Browns company was settled through a process mooted back in 2022.
According to Finlays, Browns is one of the largest tea-producing companies in Sri Lanka consisting of 49 individual estates that stretch across an area of over 30,000 hectares and employs over 10,000 individuals.
The cost at which the farms were sold was not immediately known.
Kericho Governor Eric Mutai and his Bomet counterpart are yet to comment on the new development.
Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot has reacted harshly saying the Company has violated the rules of a lease while vowing to challenge it in court.
"As a tenant, you cannot sell a business without prior knowledge of the landlord. That is a serious violation of the standard rules of any lease," he said in a statement.
"James Finlays are quite notorious at this. It began with the flower farms & now the tea estates."
"There is an emerging trend where multinationals sell off their businesses without the consent and concurrence of the counties whose land they use on lease. That is illegal and unconstitutional."