Following weeks of speculation, and just 48 hours after an exclusive scoop by Kenyan Report on the possible involvement of the billionaire family in the heightened political activities in Western Kenya, now the company’s receiver-manager has come out to admit that indeed the Rai family is in the running to acquire the Mumias Sugar Company lease that is on offer to the best candidate.
The grapevine had been rife with speculation that the two opposing camps in Western (one led by Rashid Echesa Khalwale, Washiali and other tanga tanga leaders while the other is led by Malala) were pawns in a larger war between Jaswant Rai and the Devki Group chairman, Narendra Raval.
Mr Raval, who was planning to inject Sh5 billion to modernise the miller on winning the bid, pulled out of the race, and cited political interests after western Kenya politicians questioned the process.
The Devki Group chairman said he made the decision to protect his business name and reputation from being muddied in politics. Only Mr Raval had publicly declared his bid for Mumias.
“I have withdrawn my interest to invest in Mumias through a leasing plan because of the political interests that have emerged. I have officially informed KCB of my withdrawal,” Mr Raval said recently.
Others in the shortlist of investors eyeing Mumias are the Kisumu-based Kibos Sugar, Catalysis Group, Russia, Kruman Associates of France, Premier JV (India), Third Gate Capital Management and Godavari Enterprises of India.
The Rai group made a bid for Mumias through its Ugandan subsidiary Sarrai Group, which among other installations, owns a sugar and plywood business in Uganda and Malawi. The company also operates the Nyanza-based Rai Cement.
A successful bid by the Rai family would see it further firm its grip on the Kenyan sugar market where it already owns three millers – West Kenya, Sukari Industries, and Olepito Sugar.