End of an era as Sri Lankan firm takes charge at Finlays

James Finlay Corporate Affairs Director Ben Woolf

James Finlay Corporate Affairs Director Ben Woolf (right) addresses journalists while flanked by Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok (left) and other officials at the county headquarters in Bomet in May 2023.

Photo credit: Vitalis Kimutai | Nation Media Group

James Finlay Kenya has completed its sale to Sri Lanka-based Browns Investments PLC.

In the deal, 15 per cent of the sale value has been reserved for the local community through the Kipsigis Highlands Multipurpose Cooperative Society (KHMCS).

The estate will now trade as Browns Plantations Kenya, the first investment by the multinational in the Kenyan tea industry.

It is the second acquisition by Browns Investment of the Finlays business, having taken over Sri Lankan Tea Estates in 2021.

Finlays Group Managing Director James Woodrow said James Finlays Kenya had played a key role in the success story of the parent company back in Scotland in the United Kingdom.

Browns Investments CEO Kamantha Amarasekara said the company was excited about its entry into Kenya, describing the sale as “an amazing business” that will “benefit not only the community but the Kenyan economy at large.”

Browns Investments is part of LOLC Holdings PLC, one of the largest and most profitable listed corporations in Sri Lanka and head-quartered in Colombo.

It owns Maturata Plantations, Hapugastenne Plantations PLC, and Udapussellawa Plantations PLC, one of the largest tea producing companies in Sri Lanka consisting of 49 individual estates covering over 30,000 hectares and employs over 10,000 workers.

James Finlays Kenya covers 10,300 hectares, including 5,200 hectares of tea plantation spread across nine estates straddling Bomet and Kericho counties.

It will retain the Saosa tea extraction facility, whose name has been changed to Finlays Extracts Kenya. The company will also continue to run its Kenyan sourcing and packaging operations in Mombasa, according to the sale agreement, which was released on Monday. James Finlay maintains business interests in the UK, US, Sri Lanka, Dubai, Kenya, Argentina and China.

KHMCS Chairman John Terer said the group has 114,337 members holding Sh527,216,995 worth of shares.

It is selling the 15 per cent shares to prospective investors with an individual allowed to buy a minimum of two shares at Sh5,000 a share.

This means that, apart from the Sh500 registration fee, an individual entry point will be priced at Sh10,000 with a maximum shareholding of Sh100 million.

“Corporate organisations will buy a minimum of 250,000 shares at Sh20 per share translating to Sh5,000,000,” Mr Terer said.

KHMCS Secretary Joshua Terer clarified that the cooperative society was only buying a stake in the multinational tea company.

KHMCS has 1,500 acres with 1,100 acres under tea plantations with a factory that processes 80,000 kilograms of green leaves daily. The society has picked two banks and six cooperative societies to sell the shares to residents of Kericho and Bomet counties.

Imarisha Sacco and Cooperative Bank of Kenya are the selling points in Ainamoi, Kenya Highlands has taken charge of Belgut, Patnas has been allocated Sotik while Ndege Chai was picked for Chepalungu.

K-Pillar and Kimbilio Daima are selling the shares in Konoin, KCB and Cooperative banks are in charge of Kipkelion, and Cooperative Bank is the outlet in Bomet and Bureti.