Category Archives: EABL

Kenya’s Money in the Past: Kenneth Matiba

“Aiming High” is an autobiography of Kenneth Matiba that covers his life as a civil servant, businessman, farmer, corporate leader, member of parliament, cabinet minister, and presidential candidate.

It’s also a good business book that’s well written and detailed.

Excerpts:

Scaling Farming Ventures

  • While exporting beans to Europe, he faced freight challenges. East African Airways (EAA) had no cargo and when BOAC planes landed in Nairobi from South Africa, they were always full. Cargo was doubled booked and often not loaded at Embakasi airport and later thrown away. He decided to start a cargo airline in 1967 and registered African international airways and invited John Michuki and Charles Njonjo to join. At the time EAA’s problem was that Uganda was not remitting revenue and it was serving uneconomic routes in Tanzania. He got the authority to operate a cargo charter flew an old Britannia plane that was on sale for £65,000 to Nairobi to inspect with Michuki and Njonjo. But unhappy EAA staff reported back and the Tanzania Standard had a headline about how Kenya was helping three capitalists to destroy EAA. Michuki and Matiba were PS’s and Njonjo was AG and they decided not to sign the purchase agreement and the plane was flown back to England.
  • Craziest venture: In 1975 during a potato shortage in England, tried to export 6,000 tons. Rounded up all potatoes in Meru and with 290 trucks got them to Mombasa. Managed to load one ship with 1,600 and later another with 1,700. The second broke down, and by the time it reached potato was rotten and the ship was diverted for special cleaning.

Making Transitions

  • Only after he resigned from the government was he able to safeguard his independence through personal business dealings.
  • Radio announcements about cabinet reshuffles were a feature as far back as 1965. He heard he had been transferred from the Ministry of Home Affairs to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives. There was no proper handover and he felt it was wrong to shuffle civil servants (PS) like happened with ministers.

Corporate Life

  • In 1968 he planned to retire as PS and gave a one-year notice. He asked Geoffrey Kariithi to wait till President Kenyatta was in a good mood before telling him. When Kenyatta realized this he asked who authorized Matiba to leave the government and Kariithi reminded him it was he. Matiba later made up – he was arranging for his son Raymond and John Michuki’s two sons to be circumcised and Kenyatta asked that he also rope in his two sons, Uhuru and Muhoho.
  • After he left the government, he had five job offers and chose Kenya Breweries.
  • He refused to become the Chairman of Anglo Kenya investments without equity, so he was offered 26% and he paid for that.

Hoteling & Real Estate

  • Acquired Brunners hotel in 1974, a hotel in the middle of town, that was listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange. The Brunner family had 65% and Marcel Brunner and his son Derek continued to run it and helped Matiba with Jadini later on. But they closed it in 1978. It had an old interior and its 120 beds could not support the needed renovations. They sold the building in June 1982 and Fedha Towers was later built on the site.
  • George Robinson bought 10 acres in Karen, improved and sold it to buy the Mackinnon Building opposite New Stanley for £50,000.
  • Matiba scouted Jadini Hotel in 1967 which was on sale in £54,000 and recommended Robinson buy it. They sold MacKinnon at a profit and bought Jadini and another 10 acres in Karen.
  • Bought Dacca Road houses in Nairobi West in 1969 and sold them in 1971.
  • They developed Golf Course housing estate but later gave up housing to concentrate on hotels and schools.
  • When Robinson died, Matiba negotiated to purchase his stake and took over Jadini. He had to rush to complete construction and open for tourists while facing down hostile old staff and management.
  • Michael Betrano, a new manager, rescued Jadini when it had 7.5% occupancy in March 1973 and put it on the world map. He later hired Christopher Mogidell who took it further.
  • In 1978, built Africana Sea Lodge in six months and in 1984 built, the 400-bed Safari Beach in 10 months that was opened in 1986.

Tourism Sector

  • Seasonal airlines: For KTDC, Matiba chaired the struggling Air Kenya which only did business from December to March and July to September when tourists visited. It was idle rest of the year and utilization was never above 50%.
  • Difficult Ministers: Tourism Minister Elijah Mwangale saw hotels as swindlers who did nothing but cheat Kenyans out of the foreign exchange. Matiba also held his tongue when Maina Wanjigi set a target of a million hotel beds which he correctly saw as unrealistic as the industry could not build 100,000 beds a year.
  • Matiba argued that tourism was the cheapest for Kenya to earn foreign exchange. To earn $100, you need to invest $40, and gets a net of $60 while to earn $100 from coffee, it costs $68.

Sports involvement

  • Matiba decided to form Kenya Breweries Football Club in 1970 and have all staff stop playing for other teams. They entered the poorly-run Kenya Football Association league that had a lot of frustration. Matiba later formed the Kenya Football Federation to run a 12-team Kenya Football League exclusively as a company that the Sports Minister could not interfere with and invited other clubs to join and though KFA refused to recognize them. But after Gor Mahia agreed to join, other teams followed. All they wanted was to play soccer and entertain fans, not represent Kenya. They were not deterred by a suspension by the KFA and went ahead to draw a league for Nairobi Mombasa Nakuru Kisumu, book and pay for the stadiums on Saturday and Sunday for a year.
  • Clubs got more from gate takings, tickets were printed by security firms which club representatives checked at gates, and complimentary tickets were abolished. While prices went up, they got more fans to come after they eliminated stone-throwing. They ensured clubs showed up ahead of time for matches for inspection and eliminated match delays sometimes caused by witchdoctors and superstitions.
  • In his first year chairing KFF and KFL, Kenya won three East African cups.
  • Matiba was an avid sportsman who climbed Mount Everest when he was a Cabinet Minister.

Giving Back.

  • Matiba worked with Bishop Sospeter Magua who wanted to make the church self-sustaining with permanent income through investments, and not be weak financially by staying dependent on unpredictable charity donations. They organized for three districts – Muranga, Kiambu and Nyeri – to contribute. President Moi chaired the first harambee in Muranga where Kshs 1 million was raised, Mwai Kibaki chaired the next one in Kiambu and Njonjo was invited for the third in Nyeri. They bought a 7-acre plot in Loresho and one acre on Kayahwe Road to build maisonettes. But Bishop Magua died in a road accident in 1982. Is Bishop Magua Centre, home of the first iHub, named after him?
  • Embori farm in Timau was put up for sale in 1977 for Kshs 34 million and Robert Wilson, the European farmer selling it, did not want it to go to a cooperative or large group, preferring it should go to individuals or a public company. Matiba persuaded him that it could remain intact and not be subdivided. The seller also wanted Kshs 20 million of the amount in foreign exchange and Matiba asked Kenyatta who authorized the Central Bank to release this sum which was, the largest amount of forex ever given to purchase a farm. Meanwhile. a cabinet minister who wanted the farm tried to scuttle the deal. Matiba did a prospectus for Kiharu residents that yielded Kshs 6 million from 10,000 shareholders. After taking over, they sold wheat to KFA and barley to Kenya Breweries to meet the interest on overdraft for seven years but the farm did not generate enough to pay back the bank loan and shareholders are not willing to pay more. So Matiba next pushed them to sell some land to local residents, with a bank offering 50% finance and keep the balance for the farm, but after a year, only a handful took the offer. The farm still runs well today.

Business and politics

  • After 3.5 years as MP, he was appointed a Minister of Culture and Social Services in September 1983. He was the Chairman of Kenya Breweries and he made a personal decision to resign and was succeeded by Bryan Hobson. At the time, Alliance had seven hotels and four schools.
  • Matiba resigned from the cabinet in December 1988. After he quit he has no passport and went about his businesses quietly, but Moi never forgot. When he got his passport back in 1989, he made a trip to Rwanda for the wedding of the daughter of President Habyarimana in July 1989. Then in February 1990, he was invited back to Rwanda to explain how that country could expand its tourism and he took five experts from the Alliance group with him. But as soon as he came back, special branch officers started looking for him for interrogation after the death of Minister Robert Ouko.
  • Concern about leadership. The Kenya majority has lost the concept of servanthood. Leaders aspire not to serve citizens but themselves. Many spend only two hours in their offices making personal telephone calls and the rest of their time on their business.

Business Advice

  • The biggest problem African businesses face is a lack of accounting.
  • Africans also treated businesses as hobbies and entrust them to ignorant family members.
  • Business people try to do too much – being butchers, curio sellers and textile dealers all at the same time instead of concentrating on one line.


Matiba was detained in July 1990. The book dwells on his medical treatment after he was poisoned in detention and his preparation to run for the Presidency in 1992 where he came second. It does not go into his later tribulations with banks and businesses that halted the corporate empire he had built. Kenneth Matiba died in April 2018.

Knight Frank on High Net Worth Kenyans – HNWIs

Knight Frank has released its report on wealthy Kenyans or HNWIs (high-net-worth individuals)  whose number and wealth grew in 2018, which was considered a difficult year for the country with the increased cost of living, credit shortage, and post-election economic slowdown.

According to the Knight Frank Wealth Report, the number of Kenyan HNWIs, with net worths, excluding their primary homes, of over $1 million (Kshs 100 million) grew by 306 to reach 9,482 individual. It noted that there were also 82 “ultra-wealthy” individuals, with net worths of Kshs 3 billion, residing in Nairobi.

Some characteristics of the group of dollar millionaires (which also draws from an Attitudes Survey by Knight Frank, among other reports):

  • Home ownership: First and second homes make up 45% of their wealth. Kenyan HNWI’s own an average of 2.7 homes, while those in South Africa own an average of four homes.
  • 18% of HNWI’s bought new homes in 2018 in the country, and 8% bought homes abroad,. 22% plan to buy new homes in the country this year with the drop in luxury home prices and unfavourable economy in Kenya last year considered a good opportunity for property investments. 39% own investment properties in Kenya and 22% have investment properties overseas. 
  • Investment Portfolios: 25% of HNWI investments are in equities (company shares), 22% for properties that earn income, 22% in cash and 20% in bonds. Just 3% goes to private equity – and this has been a sore point for upcoming young companies who have to turn overseas to get equity funding.  
  • Local Preferences:  The report notes that governments around the world are targeting global wealth, and 24% of the ultra-wealthy Kenyans have second passports or dual nationalities but only 9% are considering emigrating with an indicated preference for the UK, Canada and the USA. Half of them educate their children overseas for primary and secondary school and 65% of them send their children overseas for university education. 

  • HNWI’s allocated 3% of their wealth to luxury investments such as arts, wine and classic cars, among other collectables, with the majority collecting cars and jewellery followed by art and furniture. Whiskey and Chinese ceramics also feature, while gold gets 1%.  The Report mentions that EABL has a mini mentorship program to woo more Kenyans to invest in collectible whiskies. 
  • Generational Wealth: Transferring wealth is still a delicate matter among Kenya’s rich, with only 43% of respondents to the Attitudes Survey saying their clients have robust succession plans in place to pass their wealth to the next generation. 

EABL: Beer, Taxes, Innovations, Tanzania.

EABL released their financial results for their 2018 year to June this week. It was a tale of two halves with flat growth in the first half of the year which coincided with Kenya ’s prolonged electioneering period and which affected sales of its products such as Senator lager, an affordable beer brand.  But the second half of the year (January to June 2018) saw a more business-friendly environment and more money in consumers pockets.

EABL ended the year with 5% revenue growth to Kshs 73.5 billion and the star of the show for the company in 2017 was Tanzania which saw 41% growth, mainly driven by Serengeti Lite beer. Also, special innovations that contributed 22% to the results is one of the best performances in the world. At EABL, Tanzania’ grew to account for 11% of revenue while Kenya’s was 73%, and Uganda was at 16%.  Capital expenditure was Kshs 13 billion, up from the 5 billion the year before and Kshs 7.8 billion was due to the Kisumu plant which is expected to be opened later in 2018. While overall profit before tax for EABL was Kshs 11.7 billion, a decline of 12% from the year, the company will pay out the same Kshs 7.50 per share dividend to shareholders.

The EABL managers spoke of innovating to reach the 1 million consumers who attain the legal drinking age (18) every year in Kenya – and investment in existing brands, and rolling out new brands to win over changing customers tastes. They also made some excise tax savings in Uganda by moving some  Tusker and Guinness production there while in Kenya, EABL’s profit was weighed down by a Kshs 2 billion one-off provision for taxes that significantly reduced their final result. They said a stable tax environment would enable the company to generate more taxes for governments without causing consumers to pay more.  

Also that by doing more local production of beer and spirits at Ruaraka in Nairobi, at Tanzania, Uganda and soon at the new line at Kisumu has allowed them to bring global brands into countries and produce and offer them at local prices. In the 2019 financial year, they will commercialise the Kisumu brewery which will also benefit 15,000 farmers and generate over 100,000 direct and indirect jobs in the production and distribution chain of Senator beer from Kisumu.

Visiting the Home of Tusker Beer and KBL

Last Friday, the management of Kenya Breweries (KBL) offered a media tour of their plant at Ruaraka, Nairobi. One of the oldest companies in Kenya, KBL is now part of East African Breweries (EABL) that is controlled by Diageo. The tour was a chance to walk see their production lines for different products like Tusker beers, Senator, and spirits like Kenya Cane. It was also a chance to meet and hear the top management of including Managing Director of Kenya Breweries, Jane Karuku, and heads of some divisions including bottled beer (Janice Kemoli), Spirits (Annjoy Muhoro) Sustainability (Jean Kiarie), and Innovations (Fred Otieno)

EABL has 2017 net sales of Kshs 70 billion (~$700 million) and Kshs 8.5 billion ($85 million) profit. Their financial year ended just before the election season in Kenya which saw nationwide general elections held on August 8 and a surprise repeat Presidential one on October 26. and the KBL Managing Director said that the prolonged elections period had resulted in a slow first half of their new year, including the Christmas season which is usually a peak. EABL gets 72% of its revenue from Kenya, 17% from Uganda, and 11% from Tanzania, and they also serve South Sudan, Rwanda, and Burundi.

Beer is still the cornerstone of the company, accounting for 80% of their revenue. This is led by Tusker, then Guinness (second by volume). Premium and lite beers are growing around the world and KBL has Tusker malt and Tusker Lite. There is also Senator Lager that was introduced in Kenya to combat the illicit alcohol trade. Senator is distributed by kegs and sold by pitcher or glass, And as part of a Kshs 15 billion Senator investments, a  new Senator line was commissioned in Kisumu, and MD Karuku said that the old plant has a great location to serve Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, is next to Lake Victoria, and it is modular in design which will allow more product lines to be added on in future. She said beer would continue to be the main part of their future as beer keeps up with GDP (growing at about 5% a year) and grows as young people reach the legal drinking age.

They also have spirits which contribute about 20% of the revenue of the company, and they control half the spirits market in Kenya. They have three segments of spirits; Reserve (luxury) in which they have  Singleton whiskey, Ciroc, and Tanqueray gin. Then they have a Premium segment that includes Johnnie Walker (Kenya was the fastest growing Scotch market for Diageo in 2017) & liquours (Baileys which is marketed for ladies). Finally, they have a Mainstream segment, which is 80% of their spirits business in Kenya. Their main products here are Kenya Cane, a forty-year-old sugar cane blend, and also Chrome vodka. The company invested Kshs 900 million in a line that will double their spirits production capability, and they aim to grow spirits contribution from 20% to 30% of revenue. They also invested in tamper-proof plastic seals to combat a wave of counterfeiting of popular alcohol brand products in Kenya and 50% of the alcohol purchased is illicit.

In life, tastes and consumer preferences are constantly shifting, and the company has an innovation division that tries to anticipate what consumers will like in the future.  New products rolled out include a citrus fusion variant of Kenya Cane, non-alcoholic Álvaro (which is being revamped), a craft premium beer called Hop House 13, Tusker Cider, Tusker draft beer )that is predominantly at all-inclusive hotels at the Kenya coast), and Zinga a new beer brand being piloted that is priced between Senator and their other bottled beers. With the new citrus fusion introduction, sales of Kenya Cane grew 46% last year, and overall innovation contributed 18% to turnover in Kenya and 33% in Tanzania.

Last year EABL contributed Kshs 52 billion in taxes (it was the third largest taxpayer after Safaricom and the Teachers Service Commission) equivalent to  4% of government revenue.   Besides with the Senator beer, KBL also works with the government to explain that importance of a stable tax regime and business environment, and have pushed a caution that alcohol is not price-sensitive to the sin-taxes that seem to be a favourite add-on in the national budget every year. Already, while a Tusker bottler has a recommended retail price of Kshs 140, Kshs 84 shillings will go out as tax, Kshs 23 goes to the distribution chain and the company gets Kshs 33.

For the long-term, EABL which contributes 0.8% to Kenya’s GDP plans to source 100% of their inputs locally by 2020 (up from the current 80%). They work with 31,000 farmers through their East Africa Maltings and pay Barley farmers Kshs 1.7 billion and sorghum ones Kshs 660 million every year, with the new Senator line expected to see 15,000 more farmers contracted, and 5,000 new Senator outlets. The company has 102 distributors (57 main ones, 45 senator ones) and 22,000 main outlets and 19,000 senator ones and they handle distribution to get products to customers at the lowest price possible.  The outlets have benefitted through getting access to management systems and electronic tax receipt (ETR) systems, and the next step is to harness all the data they have collected to enable better decision-making. Other initiatives of KBL include ‘Utado’ (which encourages responsible enjoyment of their products by advising consumers to take taxis, drink water, eat food) and Heshima (through which the recruited illicit alcohol sellers and trained and turned them into entrepreneurs and sellers of a legal affordable product).

A Tusker Beer remains part of the urban inflation index for tracking changes in the cost of living in Nairobi over time.

EAVCA: East Africa Private Equity Snapshot

Ahead of the 3rd Annual Private Equity in East Africa Conference, (taking place on June 15 in Nairobi) the East Africa Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (EAVCA) and KPMG East Africa released their second private equity survey showing increased funding and activity, and with a lot more opportunity for deals to be done.

They estimated that of the $4.8 trillion raised between by P/E funds globally between 2007 and 2016, about $28 billion was raised by Africa-focused funds and $2.7 (including $1.1 billion in 2015-2016) had been earmarked for investment activity in East Africa.

This private equity had funded over 115 deals in the period that were included in the survey. Out of these  the 115 deals, 23 were agri-business, 20 were financial services, 13 manufacturing, and 12 FMGC representing 59% of deal volume. The average deal size had also grown to the $10-15 million range, while in the initial survey it was below $5 million.

East Africa Private Equity Survey

Of the 115 deals, Kenya had 72 deals (63% of the total), Tanzania 19, Ethiopia 8, Uganda 12, and Rwanda at 4. Some of the large deals in the survey, by country, include:

Rwanda: Cimerwa – PPC ($69M), Cogebanque ($41M), BPR-Atlas Mara ($20M), Pfunda Tea ($20M)
Uganda: topped by oil deals CNOOC and Total SA (both $1,467 million), Tullow $1,350M, Total $900M, CSquared-Mitsui $100M, Sadolin-Kansai $88M
Ethiopia: National Tobacco – Japan ($510M), Meta Abo-Johnnie Walker ($255M), Dashen-Duet ($90M), Bedele-Heineken ($85M) and Harar-Heineken ($78M), Tullow-Marathon ($50M)
Tanzania: Africa Barrick Gold ($4,781 million), Tanzania – Pavilion ($1,250M), Vodacom ($243M), Export Trading Co ($210M), Millicom-SREI ($86M), Zanzibar Telecom-Millicom ($74M)
Kenya: Safaricom-Vodacom ($2,600 million), Africa Oil-Maersk ($845M), I&M-City Trust ($335M), Ardan-Africa Oil ($329M), Kenya Breweries-EABL $224M, UAP-Old Mutual ($155M), ARM Cement-CDC ($140M), Wananchi ($130M), CMC-AlFuttaim ($127M), Essar ($120M)

P/E operations: There are about 72 funds operating/focused in East Africa (up from 36 in the first survey) with over 300 employees. 89% of the survey respondents have a local presence in East Africa.

Some of the fund companies that responded to the survey include Acumen, Abraaj, AfricInvest, AHL, Ascent, , Catalyst, Centum, CrossBoundary, Grofin, Emerging Capital Partners, Kuramo, Metier, Mkoba, NorFund, Novastar, Phatisa, Pearl Proparco, Swedfund, and TBL Mirror

Returns:  Of  the deals done, survey responders had an average IRR target was 22% while the actual IRR achieved was 19%.  There were 34 exits between 2007 and 2016, with increased recent activity; 2014 (had 7), 2015 (7) and 2016 (6). The preferred mode of exit is sale to a strategic investor (preferred by 78% while this mode accounts for 38% of exits) followed by share buy backs (32%), then sales to another P/E (21%).

Many of the funds in the region are still in early stages, and 54% have made nil returns to their investors. They surveyors estimate there are more opportunities for Africa private equity in health, education, retail, and manufacturing sectors.