Inside billionaires fight for Mumias Sugar deal

Controversial businessman Julius Mwale has placed the highest bid of Sh27.6 billion for the leasing of Mumias Sugar, trouncing billionaire Rai family and steel tycoon Narendra Raval.

Tumaz and Tumaz enterprises, the company associated with the Mwale City investor topped the bids in its offer to run the troubled miller for 20 years.

Mr Raval, through his Devki Group, offered Sh8.4 billion while Rai under his West Kenya Sugar offered Sh3.5 billion.

According to the receiver-manager, Ponangipali Rao, a total of eight bidders submitted their bids to lease the troubled sugar factory.

The disclosure underlines months of the behind-the-scenes fight for the control of the once top miller by wealthy investors.

Under the leasing deal, the successful firm will run the plant and pay monthly fees to KCB —which is owed Sh545 million — for up to 15 years.

Mr Rao said the offers will be subjected to technical and financial evaluation ahead of picking the firm to lease Mumias Sugar.

“We opened the bids but technical and financial evaluation is pending before we declare the winner,” said the receiver in a phone interview.

Mumias, which used to be Kenya’s leading producer at more than 250,000 tonnes a year, was beset by poor management, heavy debts and years of mounting losses, prompting its closure.

The miller was in September 2019 placed under receivership by KCB Group to protect its assets and maintain its operations.

Its shares were then suspended from the Nairobi bourse, and the leasing deal will be keenly watched by shareholders, including the State with a 20 percent stake, and creditors who are owed over Sh11 billion.Mr Mwale has unveiled a multi-billion shilling package that will lead to the upgrade of the rundown production plant and attract farmers back to cane production.A former air force engineer, he is behind the so-called Mwale City that seeks to transform Lunza, a sleepy village in Kakamega County, into a ‘Silicon Valley’ worth at least Sh200 billion.The viability, financing and progress of the investment have been questioned by many analysts amid court fights over unpaid contractor dues and regulatory approvals for the project.Mr Mwale, 45, first rose to the public limelight in 2010 while describing himself as the President and Head of Strategy of US-based SBA Technologies Inc.He tells the story of having fled to the US in 2000 seeking asylum after differing with some unnamed people in the air force over intellectual property rights.A total of eight investors submitted their […]

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