News that one Paul Ndung’u had been ejected from all the Sportpesa boards may not have come as a surprise to many.
Ndung’u who had fallen out with the rest of shareholders at the biggest betting firm in Africa is a man prone to controversy.
The move marks the latest escalation of the fallout between Mr Ndung’u and his fellow shareholders at the SportPesa Global Holdings Limited (SPGHL), which owns SportPesa’s businesses outside Kenya.
The SPGHL filed a notice in the United Kingdom on January 7, 2021 announcing the termination of Mr Ndung’u as a director.
SPS Sportsoft Limited, a fully-owned subsidiary of SPGHL and which provides gaming technology, also filed a similar notice on the same day communicating the removal of Mr Ndung’u as a director.
Mr Ndung’u and Asenath Maina, who own a combined 38 percent stake in Pevans, ahd on their part accused the company’s chief executive Ronald Karauri and the foreign investors of ignoring them in key management decisions.
But for those who know him, Mr Ndung’u is no stranger to controversy if his dealings in the corporate world is anything to go by.
Back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s as an accountant, Paul Ndung’u started investing in the Nairobi stock exchange quietly. He was later to be one of the most prominent investors on the NSE.
The question nobody asked was where did the seed capital to grow such an impressive portfolio come from in the first place? How does one make such exponential returns in a relatively indolent stock market?
Some of the companies that Paul Ndung’u invested in heavily are; Kenya Airways, K.P.L.C, Olympia, Express Kenya, Uchumi and CMC. It’s in the public domain how the named companies are performing
His woes in the corporate world started at CMC where he fell out with fellow board member and shareholder Peter Muthoka.
A fight that nearly crippled the company and ultimately led to selling off the company to UEA based Al-Futtaim at a discount. On Express Kenya, Hector Diniz, the majority shareholder, could write a book on the run-ins with Paul.
Back to the early 2000’s as the Telco industry got liberalized, Paul Ndung’u became a Safaricom dealer through a company called Mobicom. Within 10 years of operations, Paul started making what Safaricom termed as unreasonable demands.
One of which was that Safaricom should not appoint any more dealers into its distribution network. A situation which according to insiders led to ugly exchanges with the Telco’s former CEO Michael Joseph. The relationship was untenable and Mobicom left Safaricom and joined Orange, now Telkom. A decision that proved to be disastrous and which also led to internal boardroom fights at the company. Today, Mobicom remains a shell of what it once was.
In October 2016, Paul’s name and a company associated with him, Life Care Medics were severally mentioned in the 5 billion Ministry of Health scandal for alleged theft of over 200 million shillings. Most recently another company linked to Mr. Paul Wanderi Ndung’u, Protteta Holdings, was caught up in the KEMSA ‘COVID-19 Millionaires’ scandal where it is reported to have allegedly received over 73 million shillings.
At SportsPesa, there has been growin tension among shareholders after two casinos perceived to be associated with some shareholders of SportPesa were raided by BCLB officials and police. These were Phoenix casino in Hurlingham and Pink Apple in Westlands.
An attempt to raid SportPesa failed after the staff challenged the officers to produce warrants. Sources close to the operation claim the two casinos were raided, closed and an employee deported after Paul schemed with some rogue officers.
This war may however be significantly different considering a legal battle front has ensued with his former partners taking him head on. As they say, ultimately, every bully meets their match