Sarbjit Singh Rai is the scion of the late Tarlochan Singh Rai, whose multi-billion estate has been a subject of court cases between his family. Ranked among the wealthiest families in the region, the Rais are among the largest producers of sugar in the region. Sarbjit is the founder and Chairman of Sarrai Group of Companies – a conglomerate with tentacles in Uganda, Kenya and Malawi.
Sarrai Group was cleared to resume operations at Mumias Sugar Company after the Court of Appeal suspended a High Court decision to stop the firm from running the Kakamega-based miller.
Here is what WoK has gathered about the tycoon who is the second-largest sugar producer in Uganda
Sarbjit’s father moved from his native homeland of India to Kenya. He established himself as an astute businessman. After the patriarch passed away, his children took over and expanded the businesses which operate separately. Sarbjit relocated to Uganda where he established Sarrai Group of Companies. His cousin whom people confuse as brother stayed in Kenya where he is the Chairman of Rai group – a conglomerate with interests in sugar, oil, cement and manufacturing.
Establishing The Company
Sarrai Group of Companies was established in 2000 by Sarbjit Singh Rai. It has interests in Forestry & Wood Manufacturing, Sugar Processing & Packing, Flour Milling, Cement, Industrial Baking, Foam Mattress, Cooking Oil & Fats Refining, Laundry Soap and Toothpaste. The group which has its headquarters in Kampala Uganda operates companies in Kenya, Uganda and Malawi. In Uganda – Kinyara Sugar Works, Hoima Sugar Limited, Nile Plywoods limited, Nile Fiberboards Limited, Engano Millers Limited, Vitafoam Limited and Tasco Industries Limited. In Kenya, the company operates Comply Industries Limited in Nakuru and Rai Cement Limited in Kisumu. It is also operates Raiply Malawi Limited in Chikangawa, Malawi. The group of companies creates job opportunities to over 17,000 people across Africa.
Battle for Control of Mumias Sugar Company
In December 2021, Sarrai Group won a tender to operate Mumias Sugar Company for a period of 20 years. This was after the troubled miller was placed under receivership in 2018 by the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) which was one of its creditors. The announcement of the lease award was followed by a court case that challenged the decision. One of the bidders alleged that Sarrai won the tender through fraud which led the High court to suspend the lease on 29th December 2021. The bidder named Tumaz and Tumaz enterprises alleged that they had placed the highest bid of Ksh 27.6 billion against Ksh 11.5 billion of Sarrai group. Justice Kenneth Ndung’u suspended the lease and directed Sarrai group not to interfere with the operations of Mumias Sugar Company until the case was heard and determined. On April 14th 2022, the lease reward was canceled by the High Court of Kenya. Justice Mabeya cited that the lease process failed to consider other creditors, the Competition Authority of Kenya and failure to conduct a feasibility study.
Sarrai group however appealed the ruling and on Thursday, September 29th 2022 the Court of Appeal temporarily suspended the High Court decision to lock out the firm from operating Mumias Sugar Company. The appellate court delivered a ruling explaining that they were persuaded that the Sarrai group had demonstrated that their appeal will be rendered useless if the decision by the high court is not suspended. The Ugandan firm was cleared to resume operations until the case is determined as reported by Theeastafrican.