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Kenyan banking tycoon James Mwangi to remain with Equity Group until 2032; stake in group is worth $58.37 million

Equity Group Holdings Limited is Kenya’s leading financial services holding.

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Kenyan banking tycoon James Mwangi.

Kenyan banking tycoon and Equity Group Holdings CEO James Mwangi is on course to become one of the longest-serving executives in the country after he disclosed that he will retire as CEO of the Nairobi-based group in 2032. 

Mwangi, who has been the CEO for the past 17 years, said it will be easy to retire when the time comes as he is still under 60.

His decision to remain at the helm of the leading financial services group aligns with the 70-year age limit set by the Kenya Capital Markets Authority (CMA) for executives, as Mwangi is now 59.

During an interview, the Kenyan banking tycoon said: “I have served only 17 years. I am inspired by that. Equity retirement age is 70. Peter Munga retired as chairman at age of 75, just like David Ansell.”

Equity Group Holdings Limited is Kenya’s leading financial services holding. The group ranks among the largest financial services groups in East Africa despite its humble beginnings as a building society founded by businessman Peter Munga in 1984.

Mwangi joined Equity as the finance and operations director when the group was still Equity Building Society. In 2004, he took over the role of CEO. In this position, Mwangi teamed up with Munga, the chairman, and they worked together closely to transform the group. 

Over the past 31 years, his milestones while heading the group include successfully transforming its core operations.

Since 2004 when he became CEO, the value of the group’s assets has grown from Ksh6.71 billion ($87.1 million) to Ksh1.18 trillion ($10.56 billion) as of Sept. 30, 2021, while its profit has risen from Ksh136.14 million ($1.77 million) in 2004 to Ksh20.1 billion ($179.9 million) in 2020.

In the first nine months of 2021, Equity Group Holdings posted Ksh26.9 billion in profit in the first nine months of 2021, as operational efficiency coupled with improvements to its core business boosted earnings above the Ksh25-billion ($223.82 million) mark.

In an effort to be an active executive in the group, Mwangi converted his Ksh7-million deposit at the time with Equity Building Society to ordinary shares, making him one of its key shareholders.

Today, the Kenyan multimillionaire holds a 3.38-percent stake in the group worth KSh6.52 billion ($58.37 million), making him one of the wealthiest investors on the Nairobi Stock Exchange.

East Africa

Ugandan tycoon Charles Mbire to pocket $1.15-million interim dividend from MTN Uganda

Mbire owns a significant 3.98-percent stake in the Ugandan telecom outfit.

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Charles Mbire.

Ugandan multimillionaire businessman Charles Mbire is on track to receive an interim dividend of Ush4.48 billion ($1.155 million) from his stake in MTN Uganda after the telecom group reported a double-digit percent increase in earnings in the first half of 2022.

MTN Uganda is Uganda’s leading telecom service operator.

Mbire, the chairman of MTN Uganda and one of Uganda’s wealthiest businessmen, owns a significant 3.98-percent stake in the Ugandan telecom outfit, which operates as the fourth operating subsidiary of the South African multinational mobile telecom company, MTN Group.

The interim dividend will be paid electronically into his bank account at a later date from the group’s retained earnings of Ush902 billion ($232.4 million) at the end of its 2022 fiscal year. It is his first dividend from the telecom company since its shares were listed more than eight months ago.

The dividend payment follows a significant rise in the group’s earnings in the first half of 2022 despite a 4.9-percent decline in voice revenue, as it looks set to replicate its stellar performance in 2021.

As a result of the company’s strong financial performance, the board of directors approved the payment of an interim dividend of Ush5 ($0.00128) per share for the six months ending June 30, totaling Ush11.95 billion ($28.9 million), which is subject to withholding taxes.

According to data retrieved from the company’s earnings report for the first six months of 2022, its profit increased by 48.1 percent to Ush193.6 billion ($50.2 million) in the first half of 2022, compared to Ush130.7 billion ($33.7 million) in the first half of 2021.

The double-digit increase in profit can be attributed to a 10-percent surge in the company’s service revenue, which was driven by a significant increase in data and fintech revenue, which were more than sufficient to offset the 4.9-percent decline in voice revenue.

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East Africa

Led by Kenyan founder Owen Sakawa, AI-powered startup Elloe acquires Flo by Saada

Elloe was founded in 2021 by Sakawa, Abhijay Rao, and Aaron Madolora.

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Owen Sakawa.

Elloe, a U.S.-based conversational commerce startup led by Kenyan tech entrepreneur Owen Sakawa, has acquired Flo by Saada nearly three months after raising more than $1 million in a pre-seed funding round led by institutional investors.

Flo by Saada is a Kenyan social commerce startup founded by Gerishon Mwaniki.

The acquisition of the startup, which launched in 2019 to enable small and medium enterprises to build solutions and process payments through USSD and programmable SMS, was completed for an undisclosed fee.

Through the acquisition, Elloe will be able to accelerate its next phase of growth by scaling operations for its corporate clients and expanding its footprint beyond its current operations in Kenya and the Philippines.

Commenting on the transaction in a press release obtained by Billionaires.Africa, Elloe CEO and Founder Owen Sakawa said: “The addition of Flo by Saada technology is a natural extension of Elloe’s offerings and fits perfectly into Elloe’s strategy. It transforms customer interactions from simple communications to conversations across the entire spectrum of customer engagement points.”

He added that Elloe will be better positioned to meet customers’ evolving needs in the future as it continues to provide businesses with embedded commerce capabilities to simplify the way that they serve, connect with, and sell to their own customers from anywhere, on any channel.

Elloe was founded in 2021 by Sakawa, Abhijay Rao, and Aaron Madolora as a first-of-its-kind AI-powered, conversational commerce platform that allows small and medium enterprises to buy and sell products online across messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram.

With its proprietary technology that assists small businesses in managing their digital sales and customer service through an omnichannel platform that runs on messaging apps, the startup hopes to capitalize on opportunities in the $35-billion conversational commerce market, which has the potential to reach $130 billion by 2025 in emerging markets.

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East Africa

Controlled by Kenyan tycoons, Britam Holdings hints at sale of HF Group stake

Britam has classified its 48.2-percent stake in HF Group as held for sale.

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Peter Munga.

Britam Holdings has announced that it is reviewing a transaction that could result in the sale of all or a portion of its stake in HF Group, a Nairobi-based financial services group with interests in mortgage lending, corporate, and retail banking.

Britam is a diversified investment group and a leading insurer in East Africa.

Kenyan business leaders like Jimnah Mbaru, Peter Munga, James Mwangi, and Jane Wanjiru Michuki have significant shareholdings in the group.

In its 2021 annual report, the group classified its 48.2-percent stake in HF Group as held for sale, stating that it has hired a transaction advisor to engage potential buyers and other viable options within the current fiscal period.

“The directors approved the appointment of a transaction advisor to engage various interested parties with a viable option expected to be realized within the next twelve months,” the group stated.

The move represents a strategic turning point for the group, which is reorganizing its executive structure and reviewing its investments in financial services providers to diversify its portfolio and comply with regulatory guidelines limiting investments in a bank to 10 percent of an insurer’s total assets.

Britam’s latest disclosure comes four months after it completed the sale of a 6.7-percent stake in Kenya’s largest commercial bank Equity Group to the International Finance Corporation for Ksh14 billion ($121 million).

The management also stated that options for its stake in HF Group include reaching out to strategic partners who have the capacity to accelerate and support the process of turning HF Group around as it prepares to transition into mainstream banking.

These other options may assist Britam Group in realizing optimal value from its investment when compared to a full or partial divestment as it prepares to reduce its exposure to publicly traded companies. The position aligns with the group’s new strategy to minimize investment earnings volatility to the point where it has no impact on the group’s overall financial performance.

Since the start of the year, Britam’s shares have decreased in value by more than 20 percent, from Ksh7.5 ($0.063) to Ksh5.94 ($0.0498), resulting in losses of millions of dollars for Mbaru, Munga, Mwangi, and Michuki.

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