Bloodbath at Britam as New Owners Take Control

Britam Centre
[PHOTO/ COURTESY]

Britam has sacked several senior managers days after the CEO Benson Wairegi and the chairman Andrew Hollas were pushed out.

Business Times understands the move is aimed at doing away with Mr Wairegi’s team, even as the new owners take control.

Among those shown the door include head of finance and strategy Gladys Karuri, head of technology Jack Maina, director of legal affairs Nancy Kiruki, head of asset management Ken Kaniu, and chief investment officer Jude Anyiko.

The push outs seem to have come earlier than expected, as the company in a statement early this week announced that the retrenchments would be effected by May 2021.

Wairegi was pushed out of the management and the board and is allegedly no longer welcome at Britam Towers.

Over the past decade, Wairegi pursued a very ambitious Ksh25 billion growth strategy. He took the company public, invested Ksh7 billion to put up Britam Towers and added a spire at the top to ensure it was taller than UAP towers.

Read: Britam Announces Retrenchment In Restructuring Move

Wairegi also spent Ksh5 billion to enter hospitality business through a serviced apartment in Kileleshwa, invested Ksh3.5 billion into a technology upgrade called Jawabu, invested Ksh4 billion in purchase of HF, and bought Ksh5 billion in properties all across.

All the 25 billion worth of initiatives appeared to make sense, but Wairegi lacked a deep bench to execute these initiatives, an insider told us.

“As the initiatives continued to grow so was the need to raise capital. So over the last five years Wairegi sold shares of the company to raise capital for his empire building to IFC, Swiss Re and Africainvest and ended up selling almost 50 percent of the company to international investors. The new investors have recently came to learn things about the company that they don’t like hence the change in management,” a source told Business Times.

Britam Towers remains largely empty and rental income is way below what was expected while HF has lost 90 percent of its value since the purchase.

“The real estate strategy had failed to take off. and the performance of the company looks shaky. The new investors have decided to have a clean break with the wairegi regime and has ejected the entire leadership,” adds our source.

Our source at the company says that for years Wairegi surrounded himself with yes men who are not not able to execute his ambitious strategy.

This writer is informed that Wairegi demanded total loyalty, and dissenters were swiftly shown the door. For instance, former head of asset management Dominic Kiarie left for UAP, former head of insurance Tom Gitogo left for CIC while Ambrose Dabani briefly left for a competitor before coming back.

Edwin Dande left to join Cytonn while Edward Kirathe left to join his former employer Acorn.

The new investors are going to be focused on streamlining the company to focus on its core business with a view to restoring the share price before cashing out.

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