Ngugi Kiuna: The Beer Tycoon Who Was The Sole Distributor Of Heineken In Kenya

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Ngugi Kiuna: The Beer Tycoon Who Was The Sole Distributor Of Heineken In Kenya
Ngugi Kiuna Photocredit/Daily Nation

Business magnate Ngugi Kiuna is what you would term as a reclusive money man. He is the owner of Maxam Limited, one of the largest alcoholic distribution companies in Kenya which had annual revenues of over Ksh 3.5 billion. He also has a substantial stake in other sectors of the economy as highlighted in this article. 

Here is what WoK has gathered about Ngugi Kiuna and his businesses.

The Investor

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Ngugi Kiuna is a renowned businessman and investor with interests in real estate, industrial gases, agriculture and banking sectors. He is the former Chairman of BOC Kenya – a gas manufacturing company that manufactures and markets industrial and medical gases. BOC Kenya is subsidiary of British Oxygen Company which was established in 1886 by the Brin Brothers.

The company was established in Mombasa, Kenya in 1940. They spread their tentacles to Nairobi, Kisumu, Kampala and Dar-es-Salaam. The tycoon is also the founder and owner of Maxam Kenya Limited – a beer distribution company which he established in October 2006 and was been the sole distributor of Heineken beer in Kenya. The company recorded annual revenue in excess of Ksh 3.5 billion as reported by Forbes.

Investments

Having served as the Chairman of BOC Kenya, Ngugi Kiuna understands the potential of the company and has heavily invested in it becoming one of the company’s leading shareholders. In July 2022, Billionaires Africa reported that the tycoon had acquired additional 93,000 shares worth Ksh6.9 million in the company. His stake grew from 7.6 percent at the end of 2020 to 8.08 percent as of July 2022.

The acquisition came after the tycoon had publicly opposed a move by Kenyan billionaire Baloobhai Patel through his company Carbacid Investment Plc to take over BOC Kenya. Carbacid had proposed to acquire a 65.38 percent stake in BOC Kenya in a deal that was estimated to cost Ksh 1.2 billion. Kiuna filed an appeal with the Capital Markets Tribunal opposing the buyout claiming that the proposal ‘undervalues the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm.’ The case has not been heard due to lack of quorum following unoccupied vacancies at the Capital Markets Tribunal.

Termination Of Distribution Agreement By Heineken International BV 

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In August 2019, Ngugi Kiuna’s Maxam Limited moved to court to sue Heineken International BV for unfairly terminating their distribution contract. In 2013, the two companies entered into a formal agreement that gave Maxam Ltd the exclusive distributorship of its products to the Kenyan market. Following the agreement, Maxam invested significantly in developing distribution infrastructure and marketing the Heineken beer brand in Kenya.

In 2016, Heineken terminated the contract claiming that it was geared towards deleting the exclusivity clause in the agreement in order to open up distribution of its products across the region to other firms that were willing to partner with it as reported by Forbes. In the ruling, Justice James Makau said that Maxam had proved that Heineken acted in breach of their contract. He would then direct Heineken to pay Maxam Ksh 1.79 billion in special damages.

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