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HomeWealthPaul Wanderi Ndung’u: Troubled Billionaire Who Was Kicked Out Of Sportpesa 

Paul Wanderi Ndung’u: Troubled Billionaire Who Was Kicked Out Of Sportpesa 

By Kimani Kuria 

Paul Wanderi Ndung’u is a Kenyan multibillionaire who had been successful at maintaining a low profile until trouble began brewing at the betting giant firm SportPesa. Owning several businesses and a varied investment portfolio, here is the billionaire’s profile as told by WoK.

Age and Background

He was born in the late 1966 and as of 2021 he is 55 year old. Paul was born and raised in Kenya’s Central region.

Educational Background

Paul Ndung’u is an alumnus of the United States International University where he received his undergraduate degree in Finance.

Early Career

He began his first job in 1991 as an accounting clerk at Uchumi Supermarket and after a year went into Pioneer General Assurance as an accountant and investment officer. These were his earliest exposures to the finance world and he got an opportunity to hone his skills in investments.

Also Read: Ten Silent Billionaires In Kenya Who Hate The Limelight

The Making of a Business Mogul

Foreign Exchange Businesses

Paul Wanderi Ndung’u was the first Kenyan to be awarded a forex bureau license in 1995, a year after Kenya opened up its to foreign exchange. From his travels in Uganda and Egypt, he found out that forex was a profitable venture he wanted to be a part of. He has gone on to set up three forex bureaus, all of which he serves as the Group Managing Director. These are Glory Forex Bureau Limited, The Village Market Forex Bureau Limited, and Taipan Forex Bureau Limited. The billionaire has indeed made a fortune from the bureaus which are reported to make up to 15% in profit margins.

Mobicom International Limited

In 2001, he also borrowed from good practice in other African countries and ventured into telecommunications, setting up the once high-riding Mobicom International Limited. Mobicom worked as Safaricom’s dealer selling phones, accessories, and scratch cards across forty-two outlets in Kenya. The firm was grossing approximately US$50,000,000 in annual revenues and after a fallout with Safaricom over dealership terms, they ended the partnership. Afterward, Mobicom joined Orange, and later Telkom. The company’s revenues gradually but constantly dwindled now becoming only a shell of what it was before.

Also Read: Humphrey Kariuki Ndegwa Biography, Age, Education, Career And Family

Nairobi Securities Exchange Trading

Paul Ndung’u attributes most of his wealth growth to his trading on the Nairobi Securities Exchange and exploring other bourses around the world. In 2002, he said he thought the Kenya Power shares were being undervalued when each was being sold at Ksh 1. He went on to purchase 1 million shares holding them for a year and in 2003, sold each at the appreciated value of Ksh 6 per share.

In one year, he had made Ksh5 million without breaking a sweat. This was not the end of his trades as he took his earned money, added a loan, and went on to purchase 6 million Kenya Airways shares that were selling at Ksh 6 each. After three years, he began disposing of the shares at Ksh 120 each. His NSE portfolio in the 2000s was valued at Ksh 4 billion. 

Other Businesses and Investments

Paul Ndung’u holds shares in numerous companies that have contributed to his billionaire status. These include G-North & Son which is a hospitality and agricultural equipment distributor, Life Care Medics, Kenya Airways, Home Afrika, Crown Paints, Uchumi Supermarkets, Housing Finance, Taipan Properties Limited, Swift International Limited, and Safari Ting Ting Limited. 

When asked about his evaluation of companies to invest in, Mr. Ndung’u had this to say: “I invest in private companies with the potential to capture the regional market. I have invested in eight private companies. I am currently evaluating others.”

High-profile Friendships

The billionaire is known for his friendships with former president H.E Mwai Kibaki, President Uhuru Kenyatta, and 2022 presidential aspirant Raila Odinga. In the 2017 general elections, he chaired President Uhuru Kenyatta’s fundraising committee. Additionally, he is among the Kikuyu billionaires who are funding former prime minister Raila Odinga’s presidential bid come the 2022 general elections. He is however quick to note that he is in no way into politics saying, “I am a businessman not a politician. It’s sad when a legitimate business is caught up in political circus”

SportPesa Woes

The billionaire shot into the limelight when his shareholding in SportPesa Global Holdings Limited drastically dropped from 17% to 2.83% in 2020 and his eventual delisting as a director in January 2021. This resulted from a series of events that started in 2017 when Paul Ndung’u, who was then the fourth-largest shareholder, fell out with other shareholders. He accused them of leaving him and another shareholder, Asenath Maina, from decision-making and management of the firm.

Also Read: Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri: Sold His Land To Start Betting Giant

SportPesa had been operating through Pevans East Africa before it was rocked with battles with the Betting Control and Licensing Board and tax-related cases in Kenya.

The CEO Ronald Karauri and the other directors worked on a revival and comeback beginning in June 2020 under a new company named Milestone Games Limited (but retained the trade name SportPesa) leaving the two directors out.

The billionaire responded to this move saying, “My removal as a director now means that only Ivaylo Bozoukov and Kalina Karadzhova are the directors of SPGHL where they made a fraudulent and unprocedural transfer of SportPesa trade name.” SportPesa is currently operational after acquiring court orders to suspend the cancellation of its operating license albeit temporary. 

Business Controversies

Some of Paul Ndung’u’s businesses have been linked with fraudulent tender awards from the government. These include Life Care Medics which was allegedly involved in the theft of over Ksh 200,000,000 amidst the 2016 Ksh 5 billion scandal in the Ministry of Health. In the KEMSA scandal amidst Covid-19 struggles, Protteta Holdings, a company linked to the billionaire was said to have received more than Ksh 73 million from the organization.