Why Uhuru rejected Moi’s Sh3.5bn price to sell Standard

Sources say talks with former president Moi collapsed when his son, Gideon, asked for a premium price to for the family’s stake

A consortium of investors from Central Kenya led by President Uhuru Kenyatta unsuccessfully tried to buy the Standard Group last year, before shifting their focus to Nation Media Group. The President reportedly approached key shareholders in the company, former President Daniel arap Moi and Joshua Kulei, but talks collapsed when Moi’s son, Gideon Moi, who is the Baringo Senator, asked for a premium price to for their shares.

The Moi family, Kulei and other close associates own over 90% stake in the Standard Group, Kenya’s second biggest media house. The company’s top three shareholders are S.N.G Holdings Limited (69.03%), Trade World Kenya Limited (10.90%) and Miller Trustees Limited (10.53%). These are believed to be companies associated with Moi family and associates.

The Standard has a presence in broadcast through KTN and KTN News and Radio Maisha; in print it owns Standard newspapers and The Nairobian weekly; as well as Standard Digital which runs online versions of the two divisions. It also owns advertising firm Think Outdoor.

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It is this stable of media platforms that the Kenyatta family was hoping to access and own – very crucial in setting public agenda and ensuring positive press. But sources indicate Gideon Moi may have deliberately blocked Uhuru from buying Standard, which he would want to use to grow and protect his political ambitions.

According to sources familiar with the negotiations, Gideon demanded for Ksh 3.5 billion

After Uhuru ascended to State House, 35 years after his father, Gideon has been working to keep the Moi dynasty in politics alive and very few can fault him for nurturing presidential ambitions.

According to sources familiar with the negotiations, Gideon demanded for Ksh 3.5 billion, but when the Kenyatta family, through Muhoho Kenyatta, and Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi, who was also part of the consortium, delved into the accounts, they discovered that they had been ‘massaged’ for about three years.

“There was a hefty bank loan that had not been declared. The money was used to offset the 2016 staff rationalisation programme and then, there was a long list of litigation cases filed by employees who thought they had been let off wrongly,” one source told Business Today.

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According to the source, it was after this discovery that then CEO Sam Shollei’s woes at the Mombasa Road-based company started leading to his eventual departure in September last year.

It is also said Gideon has requested his father to keep the media business as part of the family vast empire. “Gideon told Moi he can sell any other business but not Standard,” said another source close to the Baringo Senator. “He’s keen on controlling the media house for political reasons.”

From Standard, Uhuru and his corterie of investors, mainly comprising of rich guys from Kiambu and Murang’a counties, started strategising on how to attack NMG, Kenya’s biggest media house principally owned by His Highness the Aga Khan. Here, they seem to have already set one foot inside Nation Centre.

The Standard was established as the African Standard in 1902 as a weekly by Alibhai Mulla Jeevanjee, an immigrant businessman from India. Jeevanjee sold the paper to two British businessmen in 1905. The British-based Lonrho Group bought the newspaper in 1963, sold to Kenyan investors (including Moi who was then serving as president) in 1995.

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