Kibaki’s little-known multibillion-shilling business empire

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Kenya’s third President Emilio Stanley Mwai Kibaki was a quiet man, so was his business empire that he chose to steer behind the scenes. 

According to official and non-official records, the soft-spoken leader, who in 2002 joined forces with other opposition leaders to end the 24-year rule of Independence party Kanu, had interests in real estate, hospitality, banking and ranching. 

His private investments were top-secret so much so that the public only heard of them when being offloaded.

A case in point is the sale of the iconic Union Towers—a 14-floor building at the heart of Nairobi’s central business district—to Mount Kenya University in October 2014.

Although details of the transaction are scant, the former head of state is said to have earned Sh800 million from the sale. 

The partial sale of a ranch in Nakuru in 2016 is yet another notable transaction that blew the lid off Kibaki’s wealth.

According to media reports, Kibaki placed a notice to sell 700 acres of his vast land in the Bahati area of Nakuru county for about Sh11 billion. 

He acquired the majority of the land empire when he was the Minister for Finance from the 1970s to the mid-1980s.

The property includes large-scale landholdings acquired from one-time Cabinet minister and spy Bruce McKenzie, who died in a plane crash in 1978.  

McKenzie sold Kibaki the 1,000 acres in Bahati, 10,000 acres at Igwamiti in Laikipia county and another 10,000 acres in Rumuruti, also in Laikipia.

A fire in 2002 exposed another of Kibaki’s hidden land in Naro Moru measuring 1,600 acres.

There is also another 1,200-acre Gingalili Farm nestled along the Nakuru-Nyahururu road, where the Kibaki family is developing a gated community worth Sh8 billion under Gingalili Farm (1968) Limited.

Gingalili is part of Lucia & Company, Kibaki’s holding company that manages interests in hospitality comprising Nairobi’s Silver Springs. There is also Green Hills Hotel, which Kibaki opened in Nyeri in 1979, and Kentrout Grill and Campsite in Timau.

Kibaki’s family is also associated with Deacon East Africa whose fortunes plummeted after losing Mr Price franchise to MRP Kenya in April 2017. 

Mr Price Group, which is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, has 962 stores in southern Africa and 29 franchise stores in Africa, including Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana, dealing in clothing, footwear, sportswear, sporting goods and homewares.

The heavy losses saw the firm appoint Kibaki’s daughter, Judy, as its director after the resignation of Betty Mwangi. Deacon’s fashion brands include 4u2, Angelo, Truworths, Babyshop, Bossini and F&F.

The former President’s family, via his son Jimmy, is said to have also ventured out into sports betting via OdiBets. 

As the country mourns the former President, who is credited with a host of ongoing infrastructural projects and sound fiscal policies during his 10-year tenure, his family has the duty to trace his investment worth billions of shillings and avert inheritance disputes that have torn apart many a prominent family. 

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