William Rutoâ€™s name has featured prominently as the force behind a group of wealthy businessmen and politically correct powerbrokers from Rift Valley who are plotting to form a joint consortium that would eventually buy majority shares in state corporations already earmarked for privatisation.
Sources say Ruto has brought on board a number of his allies to raise substantial amounts of money that will see them control the sugar industry as well as venture into the banking industry. We have gathered that the company has been registered and has identified a number of parastatals that they plan to buy controlling shares.
The company will be a replica of the TransCentury Company which is an infrastructure company that came up during Mwai Kibakiâ€™s reign. It is now said the Ruto team is now plotting on how to make money ahead of 2022 elections where he eyes to succeed his boss, Uhuru Kenyatta.
The groupâ€™s main target is the cashstrapped National Bank of Kenya. Sources within the banking industry now say that at one stage, the Jubilee government had instructed the National Treasury to inject Sh1 billion to jumpstart the limping bank.
NBK which is 48pc owned by National Social Security Fund and 22pc by the Treasury is now said to be in cash flow problems following the delay of the release of Sh1 billion.
Sources say the Ruto allies are behind the delay of the release of the Sh1 billion to make the bank collapse and have it privatised and sold at a throw-away price. It is against such deals that Treasury CS Henry Rotich secretly withheld the money.
According to the plans, once Central Bank announces the privatisation, the Ruto team will buy controlling shares and thereby own the bank. Sources say Ruto has for many years wished to venture in the banking industry just as other top politicians in the country.
The Kenyatta family is linked to the Commercial Bank of Africa, Simon Nyachae is linked to Credit Bank, Daniel Moi has Trans National Bank. Ruto now wants to join the league of his political seniors and venture into the banking industry.
Back to NKB, the bank is now said to be in great financial strains and sources reveal that there has been a mass exodus of senior managers as well as low level managers. In May this year, the bank sacked 190 employees.
Sources say the bank is also planning a massive retrenchment of its bloated staff ahead of the looming privatisation. Sources say the Ruto team targets NBK because it has branches scattered throughout the country and its solid assets investments.
Already, the bankâ€™s top management is said to have fallen to the trap. The bankâ€™s CEO Munir Sheikh Ahmed is a key player in deal. He is said to have endeared himself to Ruto URP side via majority leader in parliament, Aden Duale.
The CEO style of leadership has seen top managers vacate. He is accused of being arrogant and proud. As a result, managers who cannot withstand his style of leadership have quit.
Those who left are the executive director for retail and business banking, Robert Kibaara. He followed Sam Okero who was in-charge of corporate and institution banking as executive director.
Other top level posts to have been vacated include that of human resource director, head of credit, director islamic banking, head of retail, head of SME banking, head of medium enterprises and head of corporate communication.
The management is said to be divided to an extent that they do not agree on any serious issue. They are Habil Waswani who is company secretary and director legal services and compliance, Maingi Kaumbuthu, director, internal audit, Boniface Biko, acting executive director â€“ corporate institutional and business banking, Cromwell Kedemi, director, integrated distribution channels and Mohammed Abdalla, director, information technology.
Others are Thomas Gachie, director, operations, Musa Adan, director, islamic banking, Bernadette Ngara, director, marketing and corporate communications, Yao Sandra, director, business development, George Jaba, chief risk officer, Reuben Koech, director, corporate banking and Dismas Omondi who is the acting director, human resources.
We could not establish whether some on the above are still at NBK or left to look for greener pastures.
Once done with the NBK, sources say the Ruto teamâ€™s target is in the sugar industry. Ruto is said to be having serious ambition to venture into the sugar industry which dates back to his days as Agriculture minister in the grand coalition government.
Having been the man at the helm of the Agriculture ministry, sources say some of the reforms in its sugar industry through the privatisation of the five sugar mills were his brainchild but he was kicked out of the ministry before it could be affected.
According to a report, the government intends to sell its stakes in Chemelil Sugar Company, Nzoia Sugar Company Ltd, South Nyanza Sugar Company Ltd, Muhoroni Sugar Company Ltd and Miwani Sugar Company. It is believed that privatisation of the companies will inject more capital, diversify and make the industry more competitive.
The Ruto team is said to have identified some sugar firms that they intend to buy controlling shares. As an investor, his team will have the chance to buy shares through an initial public offering. Sources say 51pc of the shares from each firm are expected to be sold to strategic investors and the proceeds will fund the recovery and upgrading of the sugar firms.
The teamâ€™s main interest is said to be the cashstrapped Mumias Sugar which is now said to be on its deathbed. We have information that in March this year, Ruto announced that the government had agreed on a Sh5 billion deal with lenders to revive Mumias Sugar that will see the board and management of the company sent home. In the deal, the government was to inject Sh1 billion but to date, the government has not honoured that pledge.
Luhya MPs allied to Jubilee have found themselves in a tight corner. Last week, they were running up and down upon learning Mumias Sugar had closed down. They want Jubilee government to step in since already; the opposition Cord has hijacked the matter.
Raila Odinga last week met Luhya MPs who petitioned him to rescue local ailing industries.
Sources say that just like the NBK deal, the Treasury has withheld the Sh1 billion so as to frustrate Mumias to close it to allow the Ruto team to buy it at a throwaway price. Already, a section of Luhya leaders are privy to the deal and have sent warnings to those behind the dirty scheme.
Initially, the gameplan was to send home more than half the board of management and sack the entire top management and replace them with receiver managers but this backfired after the Treasury failed to release the Sh1 billion. Had that succeeded, Ruto and his allies had schemed to have friendly receiver managers take up top positions who in turn were to push for the sale of the sugar mill.
Already, locals are aware of the new move and have vowed to resist it at all costs.
The group is also said to be interested in buying controlling shares at Chemelil Sugar Company, Nzoia Sugar Company Ltd, South Nyanza Sugar Company Ltd, Muhoroni Sugar Company Ltd and Miwani Sugar Company. To control the sale of Nzoia, the group had controversially renewed the term of the CEO Saul Wasilwa. Farmers moved to court to hound Wasilwa out.
Just as the Mumias stakeholders are keeping a close eye on the group, the Kisumu governor Jack Ranguma has revealed that plans are underway for the county government to buy Chemelil, Muhoroni and Miwani Sugar Companies. If that happens, then the Ruto team will only be left with Sony Sugar to scheme for.
But what has shocked many is a report that a team that oversees the privatisation of government-owned companies has opposed plans by county governments to buy the five sugar millers in western Kenya.
Sources say the Ruto team must have instructed the commission chairman, Henry Obwocha, not to allow county governments to buy the firms. Obwocha has categorically stated that it would be inappropriate to sell the millers to county governments and that it would be illogical to transfer the companies from one government to another.
Rutoâ€™s team is also said to be interested in the energy sector where, already, some of his allies have won lucrative tenders in geothermal production. The team is also said to be eyeing Webuye Pan Paper Mills.
Western leaders have been accusing the government of doing little to revive the collapsed Webuye Paper Mills. The company went into receivership in 2009 after accruing huge debts.
In April, Industrialisation secretary, Adan Mohammed, announced that the government is negotiating with two private investors to revive the factory. It is not known if the Ruto group will partner with an international investor or go it alone.
Again, Ruto is trying to play in the same league as his political seniors by venturing into the paper manufacturing business. Moi family is associated with Rai Ply while Tim Sales is owned by Kenyatta family. If the plans to buy Webuye Pan Paper