Chris Kirubi Biography


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  • Chris Kirubi is a Kenyan businessman, entrepreneur, industrialist and philanthropist. He is a Director at Centum Investment Company Limited, a business conglomerate, in which he is the largest individual shareholder. He was born in 1941.

    Chris Kirubi is the chairman and a shareholder of Haco Tiger Brands (a joint venture with Tiger Brands SA, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange). He is also CEO of Capital FM and holds large equity stakes in Nairobi Stock Exchange listed investment firm Centum, UAP Insurance and the Kenyan franchise of DHL. Furthermore, he is a shareholder in Nairobi Bottlers, a bottling franchise for Coca-Cola.

    Chris Kirubi Early Life

    Chris Kirubi was born poor, lost both parents very early, and had to start working during school holidays to supplement the needs of his brothers and himself. Upon graduation, he worked for Shell, as a salesman, selling and repairing gas cylinders.  According to him, the pennies he earned from this job could not have bought anyone dinner.

    During the 1960s and early 1970s, Kirubi worked as an Administrator at Kenatco, a government-owned transportation company. Starting around 1971, he began buying run-down buildings in the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa, renovating them and either selling the renovated structures or renting them out. He also began acquiring strategic pieces of land in and around Nairobi, and proceeded to erect rental residential and commercial properties on them, using loans from Kenyan financial institutions.

    His foray into real estate property development was timely and strategic, and he made a killing. He is one of Kenya’s wealthiest businessmen with a fortune estimated at $300 million, and also one of the richest men in Africa. His property management company, International House Limited (IHL), owns and manages various residential and commercial buildings in Nairobi and he owns Nairobi’s landmark International House building, one of the city’s longest standing and most prestigious commercial properties.

    Chris Kirubi Wealth

    Chris Kirubi has learned much since he acquired his first dilapidated property in the early 1970s. He now counts among his real estate holding Nairobi’s iconic International House building (home to his office) and, through his property holding company

    House Limited, 40 other residential and commercial properties across the city, valued at more than $200 million. Add his other assets and Kirubi is worth a conservative $300 million, placing him at number 31 on Forbes’ inaugural list of Africa’s 40 Richest.

    Yet he is somewhat modest about his success. “People say I am one of the richest people in Kenya, but that’s not my concern. I mean, they say I am a god of sorts, but I don’t agree,” he says with a smile. “When I look around at my companies and see the number of people we have employed, it gives me joy. It is more satisfying than having all the money in the world.” Through his various enterprises, including International House, Tiger Haco Industries, Capital FM and DHL Kenya, he employs close to 1,000 people.

    Chris Kirubi – Haco Industries

    In 1998 Chris Kirubi acquired for an undisclosed sum 100% of Haco Industries, a Kenyan subsidiary of a Dutch trading house. Kirubi expanded the company from a distributor of American and British brands to a leading indigenous manufacturer of consumer products, including TCB and Palmers, the bestselling hair and skin care products in the country. In 2008 Haco formed a joint venture with Tiger Brands, one of South Africa’s largest food manufacturers. Revenues of Haco Tiger Industries were in excess of $33 million in 2010. It employs close to 700 people.

    “In a way, I feel like I am a part of every Kenyan’s life. 95% of all Kenyans or anyone who comes to Kenya has at one time or the other used a product that is manufactured by me.”

    The company does make everyday items like the Bic pen I bought to take notes, as well as razors, lighters, baby food, stationery and bleach.

    Chris Kirubi – Capital FM

    In 1998 he purchased Capital FM, a floundering local radio station. “I didn’t just want to acquire the station solely for the financial dividends it was eventually going to give me; I wanted to love the business,I wanted to understand the business from the very basics. So I approached the managers and told them that I wanted to host a rock radio show. I asked them to teach me how to become a Disc Jockey.”

    Kirubi not only learned how to disc jockey, he also began hosting a weekly rock show on the station. The public went wild. Ratings shot through the roof. The station is now the largest in Kenya in terms of listenership – over three million people tune in every day, and it has outshone the competition for several years running.

    Chris Kirubi – Centum Investment

    Chris Kirubi holds the largest individual stake in Centum Investments, a private equity firm listed both on the Nairobi and Uganda stock exchanges with a recent market capitalization of $92 million. Centum has one of the most attractive investment portfolios in the region, including substantial stakes in Coca-Cola, Safaricom (Kenya’s leading telecoms company) and Kenyan Commercial Bank.

    Chris Kirubi – UAP Insurance

    Chris Kirubi is also the largest individual shareholder in UAP Insurance, east Africa’s third largest insurance company.

    Chris Kirubi Two Rivers Mall

    Until it announced recently that it was going to cede some shares to Old Mutual, Centum Investment had a 58.3 per cent stake in Two Rivers Mall. The mall, said to be the biggest by size (62,000 square metres) in Kenya, sits on a 100 acres on Limuru Road, not far from the leafy suburbs of Nyari, Gigiri, Muthaiga and Runda.

    The first phase is set to cost an over Sh25.2 billion. Two Rivers is being developed by Athena Properties Limited, a subsidiary of Centum. It will host a five-star hotel, residential apartments, an office park and house international anchor stores.

    Billionaire businessman Chris Kirubi is the majority shareholder in Centum, headed by James Mworia as the CEO. The Capital FM owner and deejay is also a director at Centum.

    One of Kenya’s wealthiest businessmen, Kirubi has a fortune estimated at $220 million (Sh22 billion) as of January 2016, according to Forbes. Forbes put his stake in centum at 27 per cent, 49 per cent stake in Haco Tiger Brands, the DHL franchise in Kenya and extensive commercial and residential real estate in Nairobi.

    “This project proves that we have the capacity to tackle our own challenges such as unemployment and rapid urbanisation. We all have an opportunity to be part of something great,” said Kirubi, Two Rivers’ board chairman, during the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Vision 2030 recently.

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