President William Ruto has his eyes set on acquiring shares in Standard Group Limited, the NSE-listed media company controlled by the Moi family – which is led by his political rival, KANU leader Gideon Moi – a new report indicates.

Ruto is keen on snapping up shares held by Joshua Kulei, the former private secretary to the late former President Daniel Arap Moi, the investigative report by Africa Intelligence claims. The Moi family, Kulei and other close associates own over 90% of Standard Group, Kenya’s second-largest media house.

The company’s top three shareholders are S.N.G Holdings Limited (69.03%), Trade World Kenya Limited (10.90%) and Miller Trustees Limited (10.53%) – all companies linked to the Mois and their associates. Kulei’s stake has been described in various reports as ‘substantive’. Christopher Kulei, Joshua Kulei’s son, joined the Standard Group board in 2020 as a non-executive director.

The potential transaction is reportedly part of Ruto’s plan to neutralize the influence of wealthy and powerful political families including the Mois and the Kenyattas led by former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Standard Group brands include The Standard, Kenya’s second-most circulated daily newspaper, as well as 24-hour news channel KTN News, entertainment channel KTN Home, Radio Maisha and several other radio, TV, digital and print brands. The company last posted a profit in 2018, and has been in the headlines for failing to pay salaries for three months.

An aggressive expansion that is yet to prove profitable, coupled with digital disruption of legacy media companies and the economic downturn, have combined to put the company in a tough spot.

The Africa Intelligence report also indicated that Ruto had offered a political olive branch to Gideon Moi, who supported Odinga’s bid for the Presidency in 2022. Moi, however, is said to be seeking assurances relating to his party KANU before entering into any alliance with the President.

Moi has not been spotted at Odinga’s anti-government rallies in 2023, sparking questions on his and KANU’s commitment to the Odinga-led opposition coalition Azimio.

Nick Salat, the once vocal KANU Secretary General, has also joined Ruto’s UDA after being pushed out of KANU in recent weeks over comments made questioning the party’s leadership.

By Business today