President William Ruto is plotting on purchasing shares at Standard Group Limited, the listed media company controlled by the Moi Family and billionaire Joshua Kulei.
According to a report published by Africa Intelligence, Ruto is thinking of buying out Joshua Kulei who is a joint majority shareholder with the Moi Family.
“William Ruto is uneasy about the financial and symbolic weight that the families of Kenya’s former leaders carry, and is keen to diminish their power. Numerous political heirs and leaders feature on his list of targets, including Uhuru Kenyatta but especially, Gideon Moi,” says Africa Intelligence.
The Moi family, Kulei and other close associates own over 90 percent stake in the Standard Group, Kenya’s second-biggest media house. The company’s top three shareholders are S.N.G Holdings Limited (69.03 percent), Trade World Kenya Limited (10.90 percent) and Miller Trustees Limited (10.53 percent). These are believed to be companies associated with Moi family and associates.
The Standard has a presence in broadcast through KTN, KTN News, KTN Burudani, KTN Farmers, Radio Maisha, Spice FM and Vybes Radio. In print, it owns Standard newspapers and The Nairobian weekly; as well as Standard Digital which runs online versions of the two divisions. It also owns the advertising firm Think Outdoor.
The company is however facing a serious financial crisis that has made it go for months without paying its staff. It is said that those holding the controlling shareholding at the company have refused to pump in more money at the loss-making media house and have asked management to sort out the mess.
Kulei has decided to cut his losses making him an easy target for Ruto who wants to reduce the financial influence of Kenya’s royal families. Furthermore owning a media house has been considered by politicians as one of the ways of wielding political influence like the Kenyattas who own Media Max.
Other politicians who own media houses include Meru governor Kawira Mwangaza (Baite TV), Hajji family (Radio Saalam), Charity Ngilu (Mbaitu FM), John Mututho (Mururi FM), Kitonny family (Radio Africa and Chirau Ali Makwere (Radio Kaya)
By purchasing a controlling stake at Standard Group, Ruto will catapult himself into one of the biggest media owners in the country, giving him a huge say in the public discourse.
During last year’s elections, Ruto accused the media of being hugely biased against his presidential ambitions. He named Royal Media Services and Nation Media Group for giving unfair coverage against Kenya Kwanza.
Incase he becomes a media owner, Ruto may be the saving grace for the employees at Standard Group who have had to endure working without pay under bad management which has made many journalists quit due to frustrations.