The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Bamburi Now Dragged Into Portland Cement Wrangles

BAMBURI Cement, majority owned by French giant Lafarge, has now been blamed for the control wrangles rocking East African Portland Cement that is partly owned by the Kenyan government.

Ministry of Industrialisation and Enterprise Development PS Wilson Songa has claimed that because Lafarge owns shares in both companies, it is using its dominant position to damage EAPCC.

Songa now wants the Competition Authority to investigate the conduct of Lafarge and take appropriate action against it and its appointed directors Titus Naikuni (Kenya Airways CEO) and Hamish Keith.

In a letter to the Competition Authority boss Kariuki Wangombe dated December 19, Songa argues that in light of its ownership of Bamburi, Lafarge's significant shareholding in the company is anti-competitive and contrary to public interest.

"Lafarge has a dominant position in the market for cement manufacturing in Kenya that results in market share accretion and negatively impacts other industry players," Songa alleges.

Further, the PS says that Lafarge has a financial interest in maintaining control at board and management levels of EAPCC to the detriment of its other shareholders.

"We believe that they have created the current dispute in the management of the company to negatively affect the operations of the company for the benefit of Bamburi," Songa adds.

In a separate letter to the Institute of Certified Public Secretaries of Kenya, Songa wants the institute to investigate and take appropriate action against EAPCC company secretary J.Maonga "in respect of his unethical and illegal behaviour" as far as an aborted annual general meeting last week is concerned.

Maonga is accused of lying to the Capital Markets Authority that there was no demand by the government for a poll on the resolutions during the AGM held on December 17.

"Such an assertion is unfounded, unethical and a blatant untruth," says Songa. The government had demanded for a poll on each of the resolutions including election of directors and dividend approval but this was turned down. This saw the meeting ending prematurely.

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