Kenya is the largest economy in the East African region and the fifth fastest growing economy in Africa. The country has in the recent years attracted foreign investors who are keen on taking advantage of the emerging middle class. One of them is Mukesh Ambani – the richest man in India who has invested heavily in real estate and in the petroleum industry.
In this article, WoK takes a look at the billionaire business interests in Kenya.
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Mukesh Ambani is an Indian business magnate who serves as Chairman and Managing Director (MD) of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) – India’s most valuable and profitable company by market value. As of October 2020, the billionaire was ranked by Forbes as the richest man in India and 6th wealthiest person in the world. This came only two years after he surpassed Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group, to become the richest person in Asia with a net worth of USD 44.3 Billion in July 2018. He currently serves as the Director of Bank of America and was the first non-American to be on its board. He owns Mumbai Indians – a football club participating in the Indian Premier League and is the founder of Indian Super League – a football league in India. He was named as one of the wealthiest football club owners and is the only Indian Businessman on Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful individuals.
Reliance Industries Limited (RIL)
The conglomerate has interests in different sectors including energy, petrochemicals, natural gas, retail, telecommunications, mass media, software, sports, entertainment, financial services and textiles. RIL has employed over 236,000 employees making it the tenth largest employer in India. It has a market capitalization of USD 243 Billion as of 31st March 2022. The company is ranked 155th on the Fortune Global 500 list of the world’s biggest corporations as of 2021. It continues to be India’s largest exporter accounting for 8 percent of India’s total merchandise exports and access to markets in over 100 countries. It is responsible for almost 5 percent of the government of India’s total revenues from customs and excise duty. It is the highest income taxpayer in the private sector in India. The company is listed on the National Stock Exchange of India and the Luxembourg Stock Exchange. As of 31st March 2021, the company had 347 subsidiary companies and 150 associate companies across the world.
Investment activities in Kenya
In February 2017N when the Competition Authority of Kenya gave the go ahead to French oil firm – Rubis Energy to acquire Gulf African Petroleum Corporation, details of the deal brought out Mukesh Ambani as one of the top shareholders of Rubis. Rubis Petroleum is among the leading oil marketing company in Kenya with hundreds of filling stations spread across the country. The billionaire has invested in real estate through Delta Corporation East Africa, where Reliance Industries Limited owns a 60 percent stake.
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Through the company, the billionaire has acquired prime plots within Nairobi, developing them and either selling or renting them to both local and international organizations. In 2011 the company sold the Delta Center Building in Upperhill to the World Bank at Ksh2.4 billion. It then sold Delta Corner, a 21 storey twin-tower building in Westlands at Ksh4 billion. The building was bought by the University of Nairobi Pension Scheme in conjunction with PricewaterhouseCoopers – a financial consultancy firm. It was again involved in a high-valued deal of the sale of Delta Riverside at an undisclosed amount. The company also constructed the Delta Plains – a residential estate in Athi River that targets the middle and working class Kenyans. The project is estimated to have made Mr Ambani’s companies Ksh 548.8 million.
During a past interview with CNBC, the Chief Finance Officer for Delta Corporation, Hardik Dhebar, revealed that their business ventures in Kenya have earned them a fortune.
“We have done exceedingly well in Kenya and we almost doubled our money. We had invested Ksh 1.16 billion in 2007 and we reaped Ksh 2.4 billion in return,” he revealed.