Benson Wairegi’s stay in office was extended beyond the Britam CEO’s retirement date of December 31, 2020.
The move is reportedly meant to allow the company more time to recruit a suitable successor. Wairegi has worked at the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm for 40 years.
Having previously spoken of his retirement plans, news of his contract extension came as a surprise to many.
The extension is expected to ensure a smooth transition as Wairegi hands over the mantle. The company may also be leveraging his expertise and track record as it looks to create value for shareholders.
Wairegi played a central role in Britam’s growth from a home service insurance company to a financial services giant with operations in 7 countries – Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Sudan, Mozambique and Malawi.
Details including the duration of Wairegi’s contract extension remained unclear, with the insurer promising to name a new CEO in due course.
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Britam has interests in asset management, life insurance, general insurance, health insurance, property and retirement planning.
Wairegi joined Britam in 1980 as a Chief Accountant, three years after starting out at PriceWaterhouseCoopers as an audit trainee.
A story is often told of how a Ksh600,000 set him on the path to financial success.
He was among Kenyans who capitalized when, in 1984, regulators directed that all foreign-owned insurance companies sell at least 33.3% shareholding to Kenyan nationals.
Wairegi took out a KSh600,000 personal mortgage against his house and bought a 3.3% stake in Britam.
When Britam’s share price hit highs of Ksh40 in 2014, Wairegi’s stake was worth Ksh1.7 billion.