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Billionaire Naushad Merali, once ranked as Kenya’s third richest man, dies

NATIONAL
By Brian Okoth | July 3rd 2021

Naushad Merali grew up in Nairobi, where he attended Highway Secondary School. Little is known about his subsequent education. [File, Standard]

Businessman Naushad Merali is dead.

Merali, 70, died on Saturday morning, July 3, while undergoing treatment at the Nairobi Hospital.

According to a statement by Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat Secretariat, the billionaire died at 5am, 

The cause of his death is yet to be communicated.

Merali's burial is scheduled for today (Saturday, July 3).

Until his demise, Merali chaired Sameer Group, a Kenyan conglomerate active in agriculture, construction, information technology, property and finance.

He was formerly the chairman and largest individual shareholder of Bharti Airtel's operations in Kenya, but in 2014 he sold his shares and stepped down from the company's board.

His Zarina and Naushad Merali Foundation gives to hospitals and needy schools.

As of November 2015, Merali had a net worth of at least $370 million (Sh37 billion), Forbes estimated, placing him at Number 48 on the list of Africa’s 50 wealthiest people.

In Kenya, he was ranked the third-richest person, behind Bidco Africa Limited founder, Bhimji Depar Shah (first), who had a net worth of $700 million (Sh7 billion). Bhimji’s son, Vimal Shah, serves as the company’s CEO.

Shah, who ranked 31st in Africa, was followed by Narendra Raval of Devki Group, the largest manufacturer of steel products in East and Central Africa. Raval, as of November 2015, had a net worth of $400 million (Sh40 billion). The cement division of his business, National Cement Company, manufactures Kenya's bestselling Simba cement.

Merali is an industrialist, who has been in major business sectors, for the last 30 years.

From 1980 to 2005, he served as the director of the now-defunct Kenya Tea Company.

In 2004, he managed to purchase 60 per cent ownership of Bharti Airtel Kenya from Vivendi for $230 million (Sh18.2 billion).He would transfer ownership only an hour later to Celtel for a $20 million (Sh1.6 billion) profit while owning 5 per cent of the telecommunications company's wireless phone operations. He would, in 2014, sell all his Airtel shares.

He is best known for owning three of Kenya’s major companies: Sasini Limited, battery manufacturer Eveready East Africa, and Sameer Africa.

Housing project

In May this year, a company associated with Merali, H.Young East Africa, bid for a tender to build and operate 11,000 houses for the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), with the promise of earning rent for 15 years.

The project is being funded through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model with the KDF providing Sh1 billion for the first phase as the military targets to ease an accommodation shortfall, especially for the non-commissioned officer cadre.

Merali held positions at the Kenya Export Promotion Council, the International Who's Who of Professionals, and the National Investment Council of Kenya. He was also appointed to other positions such as membership in the Kenya Export Promotion Council, membership in The National Poverty Eradication Commission of Kenya, and membership in The Presidential Committee on Employment.

Merali grew up in Nairobi, where he attended Highway Secondary School. Little is known about his subsequent education.

He is survived by a wife, Zarina Merali, and two children, Sameer Merali and Yasmin Merali.

Zarina is an expert in interior design consultancy.

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