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Kenyan, Tanzanian businessmen named among wealthiest in Africa

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Bidco’s Vimal Shah (R) with Gerald Ssendaula at the East African

Bidco’s Vimal Shah (R) with Gerald Ssendaula at the East African Business Council, annual general meeting in Arusha, Tanzania recently. Shah has been named among Africa’s richest. Photo by agencies 

By  WANGUI MAINA & PETER MUGAMBI

Posted  Sunday, December 15  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

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.

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Nairobi- 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 $17.3 million 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 chairperson.

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.

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.

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 $69.4 million, making him one of the country’s wealthiest CEOs.
Flamboyant businessman Chris Kirubi increased his wealth by $17.3 million following the rise in Centum shares a few months ago. He is the largest shareholder.

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 $87.5 million, as at this week.

Africa’s richest
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.

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.

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

Mr Merali has made his fortune of $430 million from diversifying into different sectors of the economy, including agriculture, tyre manufacturing, construction and finance. He was ranked 48th this year, a drop from last year.
This is the third consecutive year that the list has been released since the launch of the regional publication in 2011.
And for the third year running, Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote was named Africa’s richest man with a fortune of $20.8 billion. Globally he is ranked 43rd.

Youngest billionaire
The youngest billionaire on the list this year, at 38, is Tanzanian Mohammed Dewji with a net worth of $500 million from real estate, diversified interests and inherited money.

The oldest is self-made Moroccan billionaire Miloud Chaabi, 84, whose worth is $1.9 billion.
There were two women on this year’s list including Angola’s Isabel dos Santos and Nigeria’s Folorunsho Alakija, 62. Ms Santos, Africa’s richest woman and ranked 7th, is worth $3.5 billion from investments and inheritance. She also features in the top 1,000 global billionaire list, released by Forbes earlier in the year.
Ms Alakija is a self-made billionaire worth $2.5 billion.

The researchers mainly compile the net worth, value of individual assets including stocks in private and public companies, real estate, art and cash, as well as account for debt.

The numbers are vetted with the individuals though some do not cooperate.
The lists do not include those in power as they do not reflect individual, entrepreneurial wealth, thereby cutting out many Africans who have amassed wealth from their political connections.

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