Bid to oust Kirubi flops

Businessman Chris Kirubi. Mr Kirubi has an ongoing case where he is charged with conspiracy to defraud Uchumi Supermarkets of Sh147 million by selling the retail chain’s property. Photo/FILE

Efforts to oust Centum Investment chairman, James Muguiyi and director Chris Kirubi- the single majority shareholder, from the company’s boardroom only earned the shareholders a say but not their way.

The effort were hutched in a letter suspected to have led to the postponement of the listed investment company’s Annual General Meeting from October 8, 2008 to January 14, 2009, some shareholders wanted the two removed from the board.

Mr Kirubi has an ongoing case where he is charged with conspiracy to defraud Uchumi Supermarkets of Sh147 million by selling the retail chain’s property located at its Aga Khan Walk branch in Nairobi.

But a vote count on the resolution to kick the two out shows the motion failed by 99 per cent with only one per cent in its favour.

“The motion to remove the two directors therefore failed and consequently they retain their positions on the company’s board of directors,” firm auditors and presiding officers, Deloitte & Touche said.

Earlier in November, Mr Kirubi, had pleaded ignorance of the letter calling for their removal from the board saying, “I am not aware of the letter or such a move.”

During the meeting, the shareholders hounded out former Nairobi Stock Exchange chief executive, Kibuga Kariithi, in favour of Robert Bunyi.

Both have had their careers in the capital markets, with Mr Bunyi having an advantage of working outside the country.

Mr Kariithi who was picked to the board in September last year seem to have lost favour with the majority shareholders garnering less than one per cent of the vote against 99.4 per cent who voted him out. He served the Centum board for about four months.

Originally, a government-owned parastatal, the former ICDC Investment Company was listed at NSE in 2001.

Mr Kirubi has since consolidated his interest to become one of the single largest shareholder.

Centum was set up in 1967 as an investment arm of the ICDC- itself a government-owned parastatal- “to help Africanise companies that were previously owned by the white settler community.”

Together with his International House Limited, Mr Kirubi owns a fifth of Centum- about 117 million shares or slightly over 21 per cent of the total issued shares giving him an equal weight in voting power.

Kiruma International Limited, a company closely associated with him and where he is the board chairman, holds a 5.15 per cent stake bringing under his control over 26 per cent of the voting power at Centum.

Of the 38,000 shareholders, 260 control over 85 per cent of the company shareholding base and effectively the voting power.

The majority, about 17,000, hold less than 1,000 shares, translating to a miniscule 0.3 per cent of the firm’s voting power.