Nashaud Merali was the founder and chairman of the Sameer Group.
On Saturday, July 3, 2021, his family announced that the billionaire passed away at around 4:00 AM in the morning.
Meralli was also the founder of mobile service provider Kencell (now Airtel).
The industrialist is known as one of the most shrewd businessmen in the country for his ability to rake in huge profits from short deals.
Sameer Group expanded into the East Africa region, with major interests in agriculture, construction, information technology, property and finance.
Merali was born in Mombasa County on January 2, 1951. As at the time of his passing, Merali was 70 years old.
Merali attended Highway Secondary School along Mombasa Road.
Career and businesses
Merali made a name for himself buying troubled companies, turning their fortunes around and selling them for a profit.
He began his career as a finance clerk in a Nairobi garage. He worked in the finance department of Ryce Motors, a company he later owned.
The owner, Frank Ryce was getting old and wanted to go back to Germany. Merali, who was 24 at the time, bought the company. He took a loan of Ksh200,000 from Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) formerly Bank of America, and bought the company. The money was a third of what he needed, but Ryce agreed to take the money as a down payment.
“The company had a lot of potential and never once did I doubt the decision I had made,” Merali was quoted by Forbes Africa as saying.
In 1985, Merali bought CBA.
“You see, I signed a deal of $600,000 but believe me, I only had $6 in my pocket and had 90 days to complete it,” he revealed.
He formed a consortium that included the Kenyatta Family, to buyout Bank of America.
That marked his first buyout and largest ever by a Kenyan. He then proceeded to make a series of buyouts to build his business empire.
These included: First National Bank of Chicago, Firestone East Africa, Eveready East Africa and Sasini.
“Our specialty is buyouts. The company has grown from zero to the current state, where we employ over 24,000 people in Kenya alone. Turnover for the group is over a billion dollars,” Merali told Forbes in 2012.
He formed a holding company and named it after his son, Sameer. The Sameer Group has major interests in agriculture, construction, information technology, property and finance.
Some of the companies owned by Sameer Gropu include: Agriculture: Sasini, and Savanna Coffee Lounge. In manufacturing, Eveready and Ryce Engineering.
Finance sector: shares in Equatorial Commercial Bank. The company also owns Kenya Data Networks in the information technology sector.
Sameer Industrial Park (along Mombasa Road) is a premier export processing zone. Sameer Group also owns Yana Tyres and Yansam East Africa Motors.
Merali also has properties in London, Dubai and across Africa.
Forbes reported that outside Kenya, he owns 33 per cent of Farmsecure, a South African agricultural company.
He also has dairy operations in Uganda. Merali in conjunction with India’s RJ Corporation revived Uganda’s ailing dairy sector. They increased daily production from 25,000 liters to 450,000, across 39 processing plants.
Due to the high productivity, they ventured into the production of powdered milk and began exporting milk products from Uganda.
Sameer Agriculture and Livestock in Uganda exports products to Yemen, Egypt, South Sudan, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and parts of Rwanda. His exploitations in Uganda prompted him to found a milk plant in Kenya, Daima.
Merali is the largest shareholder at Sasini. It is one of the largest tea and coffee producing and processing companies in Kenya with 12,000 acres of tea and coffee plantations.
Forbes ranks Merali at a net worth of $370 million (Ksh40 billion), making him one of the richest men in Kenya and Africa.
He is married to Zarin Merali, an interior design consultant. She is also the director at Kenyan Paraplegic Organisation.
They have a son, Sameer.
He is a member of the Kenya Export Promotion Council, the International Who’s Who of Professionals, and the National Investment Council of Kenya.
He also holds membership at the National Poverty Eradication Commission of Kenya, and the Presidential Committee on Employment.
His Zarina and Naushad Merali Foundation supports operations across various hospitals and shelters for needy children.
For his contributions to the Kenyan economy and philanthropic efforts, Merali was awarded the highly coveted Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear (CBS).