Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is the largest and busiest airport in East Africa. The airport handles 126 passenger flights on daily basis making it the fourth busiest in Africa. As of 2019, JKIA was servicing flights to 63 destination with 32 scheduled passenger traffic airlines. This explains why businesses operating at the airport premises make millions (if not billions) in profits.
In this article, WoK brings you the story of the Nyeri tycoons making billions from operating Catering Units at the airport.
The making of the JKIA Catering Company
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In 2014, German owned Airline Company Deutsche Lufthansa AG won a tender advertised by the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA). The company in partnership with a group of local shareholders was tasked to build an in-flight catering kitchen on 1,200 square feet within the JKIA grounds. The deal consequently ended Nas Servair monopoly-who had been running the business since 194. But with the Kenyan system being complicated, the German company needed a local partner to be able to withstand the country’s commercial system that is mostly influenced by politics and bureaucracy. That is where Apatana Investments came in handy – a company that brings together a group of influential businessmen and investors. Together, the two companies established the JV Partners Consortium which was tasked to operate the JKIA in-flight kitchen.
The company successfully secured a 25 year deal to build and operate the in-flight kitchen at the airport. The deal was operationalized in 2015 when the construction of the facility was brought to completion which basically entails that they will operate the business up to 2040. The in-flight kitchen is fitted with state-of-the-art culinary equipment and highly qualified chefs who prepare meals for millions of passengers. In the deal, JV Partners would pay Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) up to Ksh 48 billion in concession fee alone in the 25 year period.
Apatana Investments Tycoons
Apatana Investments, the company that entered into a joint venture with the German firm, is made up of wealthy and influential individuals who mostly come from Nyeri County. According to an article published by Nation, Former Mathira Member of Parliament Eliud Matu Wamae and the Chairman of Stockbroking firm Francis Drummond & Company Limited, Ndung’u Githinji are the face of the company. Other members of the company come from Nyeri according to the records from Business Registration Service (BRS) include Nyeri county senator Ephraim Mwangi Maina, former Kenya Defense Force (KDF) Chief of General Staff Julius Karangi, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) Chancellor Peter Wanyaga Muthoka, Kenya’s former ambassador to the United Kingdom Joseph Muchemi, former KAA Board member Isaac Gathungu Wanjohi, prominent engineer Isiah Wambugu Mutonyi, the alleged widow to the late President Kibaki Ms Mary Wambui Mwai, businessman Isaac Samson Githuthu, businessman Gabriel Gatheru Rwamba, former International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda judge Lee Gacuiga Muthoga and Former Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) Chairperson Peter Kanyago. Other members who are not from Nyeri county but other parts of central province include former Tana Water Services Board Chairman Kabuyah Muito, Anne Wakonyo Muchiri, George Muito King’ori, Joseph Kiboi Waituru, Leopold Prusensio Mureithi and Leonard Njoroge Gichuhi.
Apatana Investments Shareholders
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If the shareholding percentage is anything to go by then Mr. Ndung’u Gathinji has the last say at Apatana Investments. According to the Nation, Gathinji is the largest shareholder with 1,271,395 individual shares and another 1,013,026 shares through a company – Nairobi Nominees Limited. He owns 50 percent shares at Nairobi Nominees Limited while the remaining 50 percent is owned by Francis Drummond & Company Limited. Mr. Gathinji also chairs the board at Development Bank of Kenya. The second largest shareholders are Former KAA Board member Isaac Samson Githuthu and former MP Mr. Wamae each owning 1,271,395 shares. The Former MP’s brother, Mwangi Wamae, closes the list of shareholders with over 1 million shares owning 1,062,807 shares. Other notable shareholders include the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) board Chairperson Mr Karangi and his wife Mary Njeri with 497,051 shares.