Portland Boardroom war shifts to the courts, Kenya

Portland Boardroom war shifts to the courts, Kenya
Published: 05 January 2012

The battle for control of East Africa Portland Cement Company will play out in the commercial court this morning as ousted directors seek to quash their suspension by Industrialisation minister Amason Kingi.

Mr Kingi fired the cement makers’ entire board and its managing director Kephar Tande on procurement flaws, but the directors reckon that their removal was illegal and that their ouster should have happened at an extra ordinary shareholder meeting.

The directors including ousted chairman Mark ole Karbolo, Titus Naikuni (Kenya Airways CEO), and lawyer Hamish Keith (a managing partner at Dally & Figgis) are also keen to protect their reputations.

"The minister had no powers to unilaterally remove directors of a public listed company and one registered under the Companies Act and not the State Corporation Act," said Mr Keith whose firm is representing the directors.

The directors argue that Portland cement is not a state-owned firm since the government can only have a controlling stake in the cement firm if it consolidated its ownership with that of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).

At present, the fund which has a 27 per cent stake and the government (25.3 per cent) are treated as two separate entities with each having its representation in the board denying them total control of Kenya’s second largest cement grinder.