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Mauritian tycoon Arnaud Lagesse’s IBL Group looks to expand in Kenya’s diverse industries

The Lagesse family owns 16.8 percent of IBL Group.

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Arnaud Lagesse.

IBL Group, a multinational conglomerate led by Mauritian multimillionaire businessman Arnaud Lagesse, is considering expanding its operations in Kenya’s construction, agrochemicals, consumer goods distribution, and reinsurance industries.

The upcoming consolidation of Arnaud Lagesse’s multinational conglomerate through its string of recent acquisitions, including picking up a significant stake in Kenya’s leading supermarket chain Naivas International in 2022, is a strategic move timed to coincide with the company’s ongoing efforts to acquire majority stakes in undisclosed solar and pharma distribution firms.

As part of the move to broaden its operation and boost both its revenue and earnings, IBL Group is mulling plans to enter the local distribution of fast-moving consumer goods through its subsidiary BrandActiv, the distributor of major brands in food and beverages, personal care, and frozen products, including Heinz, Bic, Colgate, Ajax, and Cadbury, among others.

“Building on its first inroad within the Indian Ocean Islands, (BrandActiv) is seeking to consolidate its presence in those markets through new partnerships and also penetrate the Kenyan market,” the conglomerate stated in its most recent annual report.

The group is also looking to enter Kenya’s agrochemicals sector through its subsidiary Blychem, reinsurance through Ellgeo Re, and electrical and construction through CMH, all led by Mauritian multimillionaire businessman Arnaud Lagesse.

IBL Group is a leading Mauritian conglomerate and one of the island’s largest firms, with more than 200 brands spread over 19 countries.

Led by Arnaud Lagesse and his family, which own 16.8 percent of the company, the Mauritian conglomerate has evolved over the past 190 years by anticipating market trends, investing wisely, and surrounding itself with the greatest employees.

The Lagesse family, including Arnaud, Benoit, Hugues, Jean-Pierre, Thierry, and Stephane, serve as the company’s directors and largest shareholders, with a joint holding of 114,369,469 shares.

The Port Louis-based conglomerate reported a profit of MUR1.96 billion ($43.8 million) at the end of its 2022 fiscal year, which ended on June 30 — a 1,917-percent increase over the MUR97.4 million ($2.2 million) in profit earned from its operations last year.

East Africa

James Mwangi’s Equity Group to receive $4.1 million for acquisition of Spire Bank

Equity Group is the largest financial services conglomerate in East Africa.

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James Mwangi.

Equity Group Holdings, the Kenyan financial services giant led by James Mwangi, is set to receive millions of dollars from Mwalimu Sacco’s acquisition of financially distressed Spire Bank, as the teachers-backed lender agreed to pay Equity Group Ksh510 million ($4.1 million).

The deal is structured as an asset purchase transaction, backed by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), and will see Equity Group assume control over the assets and liabilities of the troubled bank.

The $4.1-million payment by Mwalimu Sacco to Equity represents the difference between the assets and liabilities of Spire Bank, implying that the bank holds zero value and the teachers have lost millions of dollars after purchasing a majority stake in 2014.

Mwalimu Sacco CEO Kenneth Odhiambo said the key consideration was to stop the bleeding and preserve Sacco’s bottomline for its members.

Equity Group will settle all redundancy costs for the more than 100 employees who will lose their jobs following the deal. The bank’s non-performing loans stand at Ksh2.63 billion ($21.1 million), and Equity’s immediate task will be to step up collections and recoveries.

The process of exiting Spire Bank was not as seamless as the initial acquisition, with Mwalimu Sacco citing the bank’s decline as beginning after the withdrawal of Naushad Merali’s deposits worth Ksh1.7 billion ($13.7 million), which represented one-fifth of the bank’s total deposits. 

The takeover of the troubled Spire Bank may present additional challenges and opportunities for Equity Group, which under the leadership of Kenyan businessman, Mwangi reported profits in excess of $280 million in the first nine months of 2022.

As of today, Equity Group shares on the Nairobi Securities Exchange are trading at Ksh44.95 ($0.361) per share, a 0.99 percent decrease from their closing price on Fri., Jan. 27.

This values the company at Ksh170 billion ($1.36 billion) and Mwangi’s 3.38-percent stake at Ksh5.74 billion ($46.1 million).

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East Africa

Meet Mohammed Dewji, Tanzania’s ‘King of Wealth,’ with $1.5-billion net worth

Dewji showcases his philanthropic spirit through his role as the founder and financier of the Mo Dewji Foundation.

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Mohammed Dewji
Mohammed Dewji. ©Billionaires.Africa

With a staggering net worth of $1.5 billion, Mohammed Dewji, the CEO of Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania (MeTL) Group, stands tall as the richest man in Tanzania and one of Africa’s most prominent billionaires.

His prominence in the African business arena is further accentuated by his position as the head of MeTL Group, one of East Africa’s largest industrial conglomerates. The majority of his $1.5-billion fortune is attributed to his stake in the group.

METL Group, a highly successful conglomerate established by its founder’s father in the 1970s, has an impressive reach across a wide range of industries, including trading, agriculture, manufacturing, energy and petroleum, financial services, mobile telephony, infrastructure, real estate, transport, logistics, and distribution.

The highly diversified company has established itself as Tanzania’s largest domestically-grown corporation, with a presence in 11 African nations, including Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Tanzania.

Beyond his business ventures, Mohammed Dewji also showcases his philanthropic spirit through his role as the founder and financier of the Mo Dewji Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to providing scholarships for underprivileged children in Tanzania.

With a view to tackling the growing food security challenges faced by Sub-Saharan Africa, Mohammed Dewji announced his intentions to go public with an agriculture company in either New York or London in 2023.

He declared that the ambitious $4-billion initiative will receive robust support from top-notch development banks and will be executed via a blank check agreement, delivering a much-anticipated uplift to the agriculture industry.

The proposed investment comes at a pivotal time in the world, as food prices continue to soar due to disruptions in the global supply chain network. This has resulted in a significant hike in the cost of staple commodities, including grains, edible oils, and fertilizers. 

Dewji added that the $4-billion blank check arrangement, which will result in the launch of an agricultural venture, is a fantastic way to bring food security to Africa’s heels because it will capitalize on the continent’s potential to feed itself and the world.

He explained that the agricultural company, which may diversify into soybean and sugar plantations, could provide investors with a five- to ten-fold return over a decade, but it would necessitate “patient, impactful, long-term capital.”

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East Africa

Kenyan banker James Mwangi’s Equity Group receives approval to acquire Spire Bank

Mwangi owns 3.38 percent of the financial services group.

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James Mwangi.

Equity Group Holdings, a reputable financial services group led by Kenyan businessman James Mwangi, is set to acquire the financially distressed Spire Bank on Jan. 31, cementing its position as East Africa’s leading financial services group.

Following approval from both the National Treasury and the shareholders of both banks, the recent development marks the completion of a long-awaited merger.

“Pursuant to section 9 (1) of the Banking Act, the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury and Planning has granted approval for the acquisition of select assets and liabilities of Spire Bank Limited by Equity Group, led by James Mwangi,” Central Bank of Kenya Governor Patrick Njoroge stated in a gazette notice.

The new deal, modeled after the successful partnership between SBM and Chase Bank in August 2018, is set to be implemented on Jan. 31 and will result in the end of Mwalimu Sacco’s ownership of the bank, which they acquired for more than Ksh2.7 billion ($21.7 million) in 2014 from late Kenyan tycoon Naushad Merali.

The process of exiting the bank has not been as seamless as the initial acquisition, with Mwalimu Sacco citing the bank’s decline as beginning after the withdrawal of Naushad Merali’s deposits worth Ksh1.7 billion ($13.7 million), which represented a fifth of the bank’s total deposits.

Spire Bank’s financials for the first quarter of 2022 showed a loss of Ksh188 million ($1.51 million), bringing the total accumulated losses to Ksh9.7 billion ($77.9 million). In addition, the bank was in default on all CBK capital and liquidity ratios.

Despite a challenging macroeconomic environment that has increased the cost of living for East African teachers and other workers, Spire Bank has pursued a turnaround based on lower costs, loan recoveries, and the conversion of shareholder deposits into equity.

Equity Group, which has the financial and managerial strength to put Spire Bank back on track and pull it out of its recent financial difficulties, will get a good deal by accepting teachers’ deposits, as well as Ksh1.3 billion ($10.8 million) in liabilities and nearly Ksh900 million ($7.48 million) in assets linked to Spire Bank.

The acquisition may present additional challenges and opportunities for Equity Group, which reported profits in excess of $280 million in the first nine months of 2022 under the leadership of Kenyan multimillionaire businessman James Mwangi.

Mwangi, who has been instrumental in the growth and transformation of Kenya’s financial services industry, owns a sizable 3.38-percent stake in Equity Group.

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