Boardroom Wars That Led To Sacking Of Portland Cement MD Stephen Nthei

Stephen Nthei
Stephen Nthei. [PHOTO/ COURTESY]

On Wednesday, the East Africa Portland Cement Company (EAPCC) board announced change of guard, sacking Stephen Nthei who was the acting managing director and in his place appointing Daniel Kiprono.

Unknown to many, Nthei was on his third day of a 40-day annual leave, when Kiprono’s appointment was made public.

Behind the scenes, Kiprono had started working as the acting MD, effective Monday, February 8 when Mr Nthei started his leave.

Business Times understands that Nthei’s removal followed boardroom wars between directors over the sale of a 2,000-acre-land in Mavoko, Machakos County.

Read: East African Portland Cement Appoints Edwin Kinyua Chairman

The company in 2019 had agreed with the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) to sell the land (valued at Ksh10 billion), to try and offset its debts, including Ksh6.2 billion owed to KCB.

Nthei, who was appointed to lead the loss-making company in May 2019, favoured the sale of the land by KCB, to fetch over Ksh10 billion.

On the other hand, a section of directors wanted the land sold to a Chinese investor and a Somalia national for Ksh8 billion.

This writer understands that the disagreement has led to extreme boardroom wars, with the wing led by Nthei feeling that the land was undervalued.

Read: Daniel Kiprono Appointed East Africa Portland Cement’s Acting MD

The company, which has a number of idle but prime lands (over 12,000 acres) across the country is seeking to sell the pieces to raise capital, in a bid to upgrade its aging plant and repay loans.

In 2018, EAPCC sold 900 acres at Sh5.2 billion to Kenya Railway Corporation for construction of an inland port currently under way.

The company is also set to lose 4,256 acres to the government for free because it has failed to use it for agricultural use in line with the terms of an allocation deal of 1960.

Read: East Africa Portland Cement To Lay Off All Employees In Restructuring Program

EAPCC is 52 percent owned by the government (National Social Security Fund (27 percent)), LafargeHolcim (41.7 percent) and six percent by investors at Nairobi Securities Exchange.

EAPCC has had 11 managing directors in the past 18 years, with 10 exiting due to boardroom wars.

Among the most recent MD’s include John Nyambok, Zakayo ole Mapelu, Titus Barmasai, Emmanuel Biria, Simon Ole Nkeri and Kephar Tande.

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