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Uhuru Man John Ngumi Quits Kenya Airways Board

Ngumi first joined the board in 2019

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National carrier Kenya Airways has confirmed the resignation of investment banker John Ngumi from its board. He first joined the board in 2019.

“Mr. Ngumi has been associated with KQ since the airline’s inception in 1977, always a loyal and frequent passenger, and severally serving as KQ’s banker and financial advisor,” the airline noted in a statement.

The KQ exit comes only five months since Ngumi resigned as chair of the board of directors of Safaricom, East Africa’s most profitable firm, after less than six months in the role.

Ngumi, considered an ally of former President Uhuru Kenyatta, has been in the eye of the storm in recent weeks over his role in the controversial Ksh6.2 billion government acquisition of Helios’ stake in Telkom Kenya in 2022. Between April 2022 when the acquisition was initiated and September 2022 when it was concluded, Ngumi was paid Ksh415 million.

Discussing his exit from KQ, Ngumi stated: “My departure is motivated by my belief that now the tough work of stabilizing KQ is starting to bear fruit, it is the right time for others to come in and build on the transformational platform  that the board and management of KQ have created.”

Ngumi sought to justify government bailouts for the airline which last posted a profit in 2012, stating: “I remain a firm believer in KQ’s strategic and economic importance to Kenya, and I am confident that before long Kenyans will also recognize that KQ is worthy and deserving of the critical and invaluable support it has received, and continues receiving, from the Kenya government.”

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Parliament had probed Ngumi’s involment in the Telkom deal as the acquisition was done without National Assembly approval. Ngumi was paid Ksh415 million by Jamhuri Holdings Limited (JHL), the government’s special purpose vehicle for the Ksh6.2 billion acquisition.

Seeking to justify his fee, Ngumi stated that he offered valuable advice to the State, citing his experience as an investment banker and boardroom operator.

“I was paid the money because I was the best in the business. They valued the advice I gave them and it was a willing buyer willing seller transaction,” Ngumi.

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