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Billionaire John Kibunga Kimani: From A Squatter To The Second Largest Safaricom Individual Shareholder

  • John Kibunga stake at Safaricom PLC now stands 27.7 million units after raising his shares by an additional 8.64 million.
  • The added shares are valued at Ksh113.12 million. His stake is valued at Ksh362.4 million at current price.

John Kibunga Kimani is a billionaire investor who preferred to remain low key until recently when human rights violations were levelled against Nairobi Stock Exchange listed Kakuzi, an agriculture firm where he is the second largest shareholder with a 32.2 percent stake.

Even after being appointed by Kakuzi as a non-executive director, he maintained a low profile and his picture wasn’t alongside his name in the company’s website.

In this article, WoK brings you all you need to know about this camera-shy investor billionaire.

Background

Kimani hailed from a humble background-they having been born into a squatter family at the Kakuzi farms neighbourhood.

He attended his primary and secondary education in Murang’a County before joining Makerere University in Uganda for his undergraduate degree.

He later attended Reading University in the United Kingdom where he pursued a Master’s of Science degree in agricultural economics. He later undertook a PhD in development studies, economics and socio-anthropology at the University of Sussex which is also in the United Kingdom.

“He has extensive experience in the agricultural sector (public and private), including planning, development and administration of smallholder agricultural extension programs at county level, developing and managing smallholder irrigation projects, and preparing long-range plans for land and water resources across Kenya,” reveals his bio-data on the Kakuzi plc website.

Buying Shares at Kakuzi farm

In a letter to Business Daily in 2018, Kibunga revealed that he started buying Kakuzi shares when the original colonial settlers were the majority shareholders.

Since then he continued building his stake and has taken him decades to get to where he is currently. Kakuzi PLC is a Kenyan agricultural cultivation and manufacturing company.

It mainly produces avocados (the company is Kenya’s largest exporter of avocados), blueberries, macadamia, tea, livestock and commercial forestry. 

The company, with over 39,000 acres of land, is based in Makuyu, Murang’a County and trades both at London Stock Exchange and Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).

The biggest shareholder of the company is Camellia limited – a London based plantation company which has 50.7 percent of stake followed by Dr. John Kibunga Kimani with a 32.2 percent stake.

Records show that Kibunga has been upping his stake in Kakuzi over the years. In 2019, he bought an additional 263,526 shares which were then valued at Ksh 101 million and increased his stake in the company to its current percentage.

Shares in other Companies

Dr. John Kibunga Kimani is also one of the single-largest investors in most blue-chip stocks at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), with his shares in different companies amounting up to Ksh5 billion.

The billionaire holds 16.2 million shares in Safaricom PLC worth Ksh 631 million making him the second largest individual shareholder after billionaire Ramaben Patel. He is the largest individual shareholder at Nation Media Group with a Ksh 348 million stake.

He was the second largest shareholder at Total Energies Kenya but sold his over 3 million shares in December 2018, a process he started in early 2017. 

The shares made him a total of Ksh80 million which he used to invest in Kakuzi plc therein exiting the petroleum sector. He also owns shares at East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL), Centum limited, Isuzu East Africa, Longhorn publishers, NAS Servair, Two Rivers mall, Platinum credit and the over 30 airlines in Kenya.

He is also behind the Kakuzi Neighborhoods Development Foundation which has since 2018 risen to be in the top 10 shareholders of Kakuzi farm. The charity organization had 0.79 percent stake with 155,500 ordinary shares by the end of 2019.