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SBS MBA Participant to Chair Alexander Forbes

  Sep 4, 2013
 

Former taxman Michael Waweru has been appointed chairman of financial services firm Alexander Forbes as part of a major shake-up engineered by its Johannesburg-based parent firm.

The appointment of Mr Waweru, who held the position of commissioner-general at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) for nearly a decade until early last year, took effect on August 26.

He replaces James Olubayi, who has relinquished his dual role as CEO and chairman to take up the position of strategy and business development manager at the company.

Sundeep Raichura, who heads the company’s actuarial consultancy business, takes over as CEO from October 1. Mr Waweru’s appointment is meant to bring in more independence and bolster governance of Alexander Forbes, which has been run for years by Mr Olubayi, also a significant shareholder in the firm.

“I was invited to join them as an independent board member and chairman. They are still preparing the requisite papers,” Mr Waweru told the Business Daily.

Alexander Forbes said the changes were part of a general governance overhaul affecting its 11 subsidiaries in Africa. Most of the subsidiaries have been managed and chaired by founding local minority shareholders, limiting independent oversight that is key in mitigating business risks.

This is what has prompted the changes in the local operation.

“The decision was also taken to replace the existing chairpersons (subsidiary MDs) with independent leadership,” Alexander Forbes said in its latest annual report.

The multinational listed some of the key risks facing its subsidiaries as poor investment performance, retirement reform, regulatory non-compliance and “key man dependency”.

The multinational’s CEO Edward Kieswetter said the appointment of Mr Waweru has helped the company achieve its desired corporate governance structure in Kenya.

“We have the pleasure and are fortunate to have secured the services of Mr Waweru who has graciously agreed to become the new chairman of AFK,” Mr Kieswetter said.

Experience

He added that Mr Waweru’s extensive corporate experience was one of the reasons the former KRA boss was picked to chair the Kenyan unit.

The former auditor’s deep networks in government and the private sector will also come in handy as Alexander Forbes plans to grow its business in the public sector besides eyeing regional expansion.

He is one of the largest investors in investment firm Transcentury — with a 7.75 per cent stake. Mr Waweru holds a Bachelor of Commerce honours degree from the University of Nairobi and is a member of the Institute of Directors and Certified Trainers on Corporate Governance.

The appointment is his third directorship in a private company since retiring from KRA. He is a director of Transcentury-owned East African Cables (EAC) and Nigerian lender UBA Kenya.

On Monday, Transcentury chairman Zeph Mbugua confirmed that Mr Waweru had consulted him on the appointment, adding that it was not unexpected. “When we decided to appoint (EAC) him we knew others would be interested. We had to make the decision fast,” he said.

Mr Waweru joins Alexander Forbes at a time when the firm is set to expand into the regional market, with Nairobi identified as the main hub for entry into more East African markets.

“We have made significant capital investment to reposition Kenya as our main hub for expansion into East Africa,” Alexander Forbes said in a statement.

Written by Victor Juma: vjuma@ke.nationmedia.com

Adapted from the Business Daily



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