National Cement Company, which has formally taken over its troubled rival Athi River Mining, says it will absorb all its employees who had been left in suspense 14 months since their employer was placed under administration.
The announcement by Nerandra Raval, chairman of Devki Group, which owns National Cement, is a major relief to the 1,100 employees of Athi River Mining Company, previously put under administration after running into financial difficulties.
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Mr Raval said the decision to retain them was anchored in Devki Group’s “resolve to protect their livelihoods and support job creation.”
He was speaking employees of the former ARM Cement (under administration) on MOnday 14th October at the Athi River Plant when ARM Cement administrators PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) handed over the operations of ARM to National Cement.
ARM operations in Kenya include clinker and cement grinding plants in Kaloleni and Athi River. ARM Cement was placed under administration on August 17, 2018.
“We are happy to inform you today that we have been able to complete the ARM acquisition and cleared all the transaction cost amounting to Ksh5 billion to the PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC),” said Mr Raval. “We want to play a pivotal role in the government’s Big Four Agenda on manufacturing and affordable housing by having enough workforce to boost manufacturing activities.”
The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) on October 4th 2019 gave National Cement Company the nod to take over the operations of ARM Cement despite a pending appeal previous owner Pradeep Paunrana and his associate Jaswant Rai against the sale. The case will be heard tomorrow 16th October 2019.
CAK in a letter signed by CAK Chairman Ambassador Nelson Ndirangu and Director-General Wang’ombe Kariuki asked National Cement to retain 95% or 1,054 of 1,100 of ARM Cement (under administration) employees. Mr Raval.
“National Cement Co. Ltd is pleased to report that we have gone a step further to retain all the employees as we work together to improve the productivity and create more employment in future,” said Mr Raval.
Mr George Weru, Joint Administrator for ARM Cement said the completion of this transaction marks a crucial step for the delivery of its mandate as joint administrators of ARM Cement to realize value for creditors and ensure continuity for the business.
“Achieving this important milestone in the administration would not have been possible without the support and cooperation of various stakeholders including the employees, creditors, regulators as well as the various financial and legal advisors that have worked tirelessly to ensure the completion,” Mr Weru said.
The additional workforce effectively makes Devki Group one of the biggest direct employers in the country with 6,000 local workers and the acquisition makes it the second-largest cement manufacturer in Kenya after Bamburi Cement.
Mr Raval said increased supply of construction materials like steel and cement in the market will significantly reduce prices and overall construction costs to make it easier for more Kenyans to own homes.
The government has committed to construct 500,000 affordable houses in the next five years to alleviate housing shortage in the country and boost the contribution of manufacturing to the economy. “Our strategic position allows us to make significant contributions in these two sectors,” he said.