Connect with us

Bt Intelligence

Former Nation CEO owed Sh56m by struggling retailer

Mr Gitahi says numerous boardroom talks with Nakumatt management have yielded little, forcing the company to move to court

Published

on

Mr Linus Gitahi is the owner and chairman of Tropikal Brands, which has been supplying Nakumatt with various products.

Former Nation Media Group CEO Linus Gitahi is among creditors and suppliers owed hundreds of billions of shillings by Nakumatt. Mr Gitahi, the owner and chairman of Tropikal Brands, is owed Ksh56.3 million by the struggling retail chain, which has lately been facing cashflow difficulties.

Mr Gitahi says numerous boardroom talks with Nakumatt management have yielded little, forcing the company to move to court.

“We have watched the company deteriorate for about a year now,” Mr Gitahi is quoted as saying by Business Daily. “Following negotiations, they started issuing us postdated cheques which at some point started bouncing.”

Even with these credible signs of financial weakness, Tropikal Brands continued supplying its products to Nakumatt, which include air fresheners and pesticides among, “because they were a major retailer.”

READ: Linus Gitahi returns to Aga Khan empire as director

Gitahi is among a number of wealthy industrialists who are trawling the retailer seeking settlement of debts worth billions of shillings. Most of them have moved to court to secure their dues.

The list of Nakumatt’s prominent creditors also includes the Kenyatta family (Brookside Dairies), Chris Kirubi (Haco Industries), Kimani Rugendo (Kevian Kenya).

Brookside, whose executive chairman is Muhoho Kenyatta, is owed Sh457 million. Mr Kirubi is claiming Sh71.8 million, Mr Rugendo (of the Pick ‘N’ Peel brand) Sh90.2 million while Mr Gitahi is seeking to recover Sh56.3 million from the retail chain.

The row between the Ndegwa family and Nakumatt over the occupancy of Nairobi’s Junction Mall exposed the intensity of bad debts wars the supermarket is fighting against wealthy industrialists.

The Ndegwas, who are successors of former Central Bank of Kenya governor Philip Ndegwa, on Saturday night ejected Nakumatt from the Junction Mall where it holds a majority stake, citing failure by the retailer to pay the tens of millions shillings it owes in rent arrears.

The contractual disputes, which have been boiling under for a year, finally burst to the surface, dragging the reclusive Ndegwa family into the limelight they have avoided for years despite having their footprints all over the national economy.

Nakumatt’s problems were complicated this week by the resignation of the chief marketing officer, Mr Andrew Dixon, barely 10 months after he was appointed.

ALSO SEE: Nakumatt exposes family-owned chains’ struggle to adapt 

Mr Dixon is the former executive of UK-based retailer Tesco. He had been appointed to be Nakukatt’s chief marketing officer help boost Nakumatt’s strategic outlook and consumer engagement. Mr Dixon confirmed his departure via his official twitter page and a text message he directed to Citizen Digital.

This is the second high profile management exit from Nakumatt following regional and strategy director Thiagarajan Ramamurthy who left in April to become the chief executive officer of Bidco Africa.

Nakumatt is involved in takeover talks with Tuskys Supermarkets for a merge as well debt restructuring negotiations with lenders.

Nakumatt has been plagued by acute stock shortage as suppliers severed ties over unpaid deliveries forcing the retailer to close as many as four of its stores in Kenya.

READ: How Kenya has turned into a beggar’s paradise

Business Today is the leading independent online business website in Kenya. Started in 2012 by a veteran business journalist, it has a huge following both in Kenya and abroad. It covers various business and related issues. Email editor at: [email protected]

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Bt Intelligence

Researchers find first-ever Android ransomware

DoubleLocker is distributed mostly as a fake Adobe Flash Player through compromised websites. Once launched, the app requests activation of the malware’s accessibility service, named ‘Google Play Service’.

Published

on

ESET researchers have discovered DoubleLocker, an innovative Android malware that combines a cunning infection mechanism with two powerful tools for extorting money from its victims.

Detected by ESET products as Android/DoubleLocker, it is based on the foundations of the banking Trojan Android.BankBot.211.origin, renowned for misusing accessibility services of the Android operating system, which is a popular trick among cybercriminals.

“DoubleLocker’s payload can change the device’s PIN, preventing the victim from accessing their device and encrypts the victim’s data. Such a combination hasn’t been seen yet in the Android ecosystem,” comments Lukáš Štefanko, ESET Malware Researcher who discovered DoubleLocker.

DoubleLocker spreads in the very same way as its banking parent does. It is distributed mostly as a fake Adobe Flash Player through compromised websites. Once launched, the app requests activation of the malware’s accessibility service, named ‘Google Play Service’.

After the malware obtains the accessibility permissions, it uses them to activate device administrator rights and set itself as the default Home application, in both cases without the user’s consent.

“Setting itself as a default home app – a launcher – is a trick that improves the malware’s persistence. Whenever the user clicks on the Home button, the ransomware gets activated and the device gets locked again. Thanks to using the accessibility service, the user doesn’t know that they launched malware by hitting Home,” explains Stefanko.

Related: Govt puts banks on high alert over cyber attacks

DoubleLocker however lacks the functions related to harvesting users’ banking credentials and wiping out their accounts, but which can be added easily.

“Given its banking malware roots, DoubleLocker may well be turned into what can be called ransom-bankers. Two-stage malware that first tries to wipe your bank or PayPal account and subsequently locks your device and data to request a ransom”, says Stefanko who adds that a test version of such a ransom-banker was spotted in the wild as long ago as May, 2017.

ALSO SEE: Firms can use the cloud to block cyber criminals

 DoubleLocker, once executed on the device, creates two reasons for the victims to pay.

First, it changes the device’s PIN, effectively blocking the victim from using it.  The new PIN is set to a random value which is neither stored on the device nor sent anywhere, so it’s impossible for the user or a security expert to recover it. After the ransom is paid, the attacker can remotely reset the PIN and unlock the device.

Second, DoubleLocker encrypts all files from the device’s primary storage directory. It utilizes the AES encryption algorithm, appending the filename extension “.cryeye”.  The ransom has been set to 0.0130 BTC (approximately USD 54 at time of writing) and the message highlights that it must be paid within 24 hours. However, if the ransom is not paid, the data will remain encrypted and will not be deleted.

Encrypted-files-169x300 Researchers find first-ever Android ransomware

Figure 1: Encrypted files on a device infected with DoubleLocker

 

Encrypted-files-169x300 Researchers find first-ever Android ransomware

Figure 2: DoubleLocker ransom messages

 

In the ransom note, the user is warned against removing or otherwise blocking DoubleLocker: To prevent unwanted removal of the “software”, the crooks even recommend disabling the user’s antivirus software.

“Such advice is irrelevant: all those with a quality security solution installed on their devices are safe from DoubleLocker,” comments Štefanko.

SEE: Ransomware: Should you pay cyber criminals?

To clean your device of the DoubleLocker for devices that are not rooted and which don’t have a mobile device management solution installed capable of resetting the PIN, the only way to remove the PIN lock screen is via a factory reset.

If the device is rooted, then the user can connect to the device by ADB and remove the file where the PIN is stored. For this to work, the device needs to have debugging enabled (Settings -> Developer options -> USB Debugging).

The PIN or password lock screen will be removed and the user can access the device. Then, working in safe mode, the user can deactivate device administrator rights for the malware and uninstall it. In some cases, a device reboot is needed.

“DoubleLocker serves as just another reason for mobile users to have a quality security solution installed, and to back up their data on a regular basis,” concludes Štefanko.

Continue Reading

Bt Intelligence

Tuskys and Nakumatt reach management deal

Published

on

The two families have engaged transaction advisers who are working on the deal before it is presented to the Competition Authority.

Nakumatt and Tuskys shares will be owned by a holding company to be formed as part of the merger deal between the two retailers.

The two, which control the retail business in the country, are currently reviewing the structure of the two businesses to facilitate the merger process, The Standard reported today, quoting an inside source. “The new company will own all the shares of the two entities. It is still too early to know who will own what stake in the new entity, whose name has also not yet been agreed on,” the source told Standard.

Though details of the deal remain scanty given the secrecy that has characterised the family businesses, it is also understood that the two firms will leave a number of shares to be sold to a private investor at a later date.

RELATED
Why Tuskys and Nakumatt are perfect mates
The real trouble with Nakumatt

“In the end, there will be a company whose shares will be owned by the two entities after it is determined what share each would own. This will allow the two firms to continue operating as separate entities,” said the source who is not authorised to comment on the negotiations.

He said the two families have engaged transaction advisers who are working on the deal before it is presented to the Competition Authority. Negotiations are also ongoing about the fate of the two retailers’ staff after the merger.

The retail chains issued the first joint statement last week confirming the merger talks but pointed out that the process was complex and would require some time to complete.

Cash flow crisis The merger is expected to offer Nakumatt Supermarkets a lifeline in dealing with a painful cash flow crisis and bringing back stock to its empty shelves. The deal is being described as a ‘homegrown solution’ to the retail chain’s troubles.

The entities last week formed a caretaker management team that comprises executives drawn from the two firms. Audit firm KPMG is providing transaction advisory services for the merger. In exchange, Tuskys, which still enjoys some supplier goodwill, will offer Nakumatt access to stock from its retail value chain.

READ: Business started with hotel tip grows to Sh3.5 million

The retailer’s current position is a far cry from its former stature when its ‘You Need It, We’ve Got It’ tagline promised shoppers a vast variety of goods. It had 66 branches in the region before it began closing them, weighed down by piling supplier debt and unpaid rent. According to a recent report released by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Nakumatt led in debts to suppliers, owing Sh278.9 million by December last year.

Continue Reading

Bt Intelligence

GDC CEO gets mixed up in hiring of senior manager

Johnson Ole Nchoe is embroiled in an internal cold-war with a section of management who see him favouring one candidate for communications manager position

Published

on

Johnson Ole Nchoe, CEO, Geothermal Development Corporation: Said to have contracted the communications manager after she resigned.

Tension is brewing within the Geothermal Development Corporation (GDC) boardroom as the company scouts for an in-house communications and marketing manager.

The company’s CEO, Mr Johnson Ole Nchoe, is embroiled in an internal cold-war with a section of the board and management who see him favouring a former GDC communications manager, Ruth Musembi, who left two years ago.

The post of corporate communications and marketing manager fell vacant in March 2015 after Ms Musembi resigned under unclear circumstances, claiming to have done so under duress. She even requested the human resource office to release part of her pension.

Her resignation letter dated March 16th 2015 indicated she would cease being a GDC employee on 30th April, 2015.

“I have tendered my resignation effective today,” she wrote in her resignation letter seen by Business Today, which was sent to human resources general manager Irene Onyambu and copied to the managing director and the general manager for corporate affairs.

“I will serve one and a half month notice and utilize my outstanding 30-day for the rest of the notice. Please, organize my final dues. I would like to access the portion that is permitted under the law.”

Ruth-Musembi-GDC GDC CEO gets mixed up in hiring of senior manager

Ruth Musembi: Resigned from GDC in 2005 and set to make a comeback.

SEE: CNN reports on geothermal energy in Kenya

Four months later, in August 2015, she was back at GDC after being rehired under a one-year contract without competitive interviews being conducted.

The contract was silently renewed in 2016, according to insiders at GDC, in breach of the company’s hiring policy.

Meanwhile, after returning on board on contract, Ms Musembi, who worked earlier for NEMA as communications manager, is said to have immediately hired a PR agency linked to her to manage the company’s communication needs, at a time the communications department was seen to be overstaffed yet underworked. This elicited protests from the staff who collected signatures in a petition to denounce the act.

These so-called whistle-blowers were reportedly punished by being transferred to different departments. “The then general manager Christopher Leparan and the CEO Johnson Ole Nchoe desperately invoked the transfers as a mechanism to punish the staff,” said the source. “The transfer allowances paid to the staff ran into millions of shillings.”

SEE ALSO: Disabled man losses his Sh3 million bus to auctioneers

Two and a half years after resigning, Ruth Musembi is set to make a comeback as to GDC’s payroll, if the CEO has his way.  Her contract ended on 31st August 2017, in a move that is likely to cause uneasiness in the board as well.

In June 2017, GDC advertised the post internally. The advert, which read as if crafted to suit Ms Musembi, a former teacher, required a minimum of 12 years of experience as a manager among others, in what was seen as a ploy to lock out younger managers in the department who would be interested in the job.

Ironically, when GDC advertised for the post of General Managers, a more senior position, it asked for only five years’ experience. The staff union protested against the internal advert, and it was silently pulled down.  The company then advertised externally in the newspapers but reduced the number of years of experience from 12 to 10, with 5 as a manager.

Continue Reading

Bt Intelligence

Machine that lets you make your own beer at home

The company has agreed on delivery of Sh13 million portable breweries to Russia and it is in negotiations in Thailand, Tanzania and other countries

Published

on

By

Workers of Smart Brewery Well Service move a brew kattle into a standard shipping container. Credit: Reuters

For beer lovers who dream of brewing their own pint, a portable brewery from the Czech Republic may be just the thing — if they have Ksh13 million (US$124,000) to spare.

Fitting into a standard shipping container, the “Smart Brewery” made in Prague by the Well Service company can produce up to 525 hectolitres of beer, or 2,000 pints a week.

“We wanted to make a brewery that would be mobile, possible to deliver anywhere in the world, with a simple use and not space-demanding,” Pavel Pozivil from the Well Service said.

“You can put it anywhere on a solid surface, link to water and electricity sources and you can start brewing,” he said.

Related: Diageo investment hits Sh30b with launch of Kisumu plant

Well Service has already agreed on delivery to Russia and it is in negotiations in Thailand, Tanzania and other countries.

By capacity, the Smart Brewery ranks far below even the mini-breweries that have sprung up in dozens of Czech towns in recent years. But it could suffice as an additional offer on tap, as it does for the owner of the Gourmeta pub in Prague.

“When you follow the procedure and you have a good recipe, then it is no problem to brew an excellent beer,” said Radek Spacil, a co-owner of Gourmeta, which completed its first brew with the Smart Brewery on September 2.

Winery that uses condoms to produce fruit wines

Continue Reading

News Updates

Politics9 hours ago

Police find guns at Jimmy Wanjigi’s home

The raid on the well-appointed Muthaiga address happened after police raided another house in Malindi and recovered five guns and...

Politics18 hours ago

Court lifts ban on Nasa protests

Justice John Mativo said the suspension would be in effect until NASA chief executive officer Norman Magaya’s case is heard...

Economy18 hours ago

Drawn-out vote increases risks for investors, IMF says

Bretton Woods institution avers prolonged election period has increased risks for investors and traders, in turn leading to a slowdown...

Politics1 day ago

UN experts decry rights clampdown in Kenya

They aver a pattern of police brutality, excessive use of force, consistent harassment of judges and threats to civil society...

Politics1 day ago

NASA chief financier under siege

Wanjigi has been associated with NASA since the Supreme Court ordered repeat a presidential election but has not attended the...

Opinion2 days ago

Withdrawal: Is Raila conceding defeat?

While Raila Odinga has been losing all his party’s key point men, Uhuru Kenyatta has been gaining, which translates to...

Politics4 days ago

Raila’s speech: We need the help of our friends

He says there are hugely pragmatic reasons to help preserve the democracy that has given Kenya the stability to become...

Politics4 days ago

Raila reveals those who pushed him out of the race

Speaking at Chatham House in London, Nasa leader says he is not retiring, accuses Jubilee of changing the rules mid...

Politics5 days ago

You didn’t follow the law, police tell Nasa

Nairobi Police County Commander Japhet Koome says Opposition alliance was supposed to have written to the police at least three...

Person of Interest5 days ago

Elizabeth Marami: Kenya’s ONLY female marine pilot

Purely because of her gender, she says she has been rejected by various companies in her quest to meet the...

Advertisement

Trending