By Gitahi Ngunyi
Billionaire Chris Kirubi has lost rights to manufacture and distribute the BIC stationery brands.
BIC has been the flagship brand of Kirubi owned Haco Industries for close to 40 years and the loss will diminish the billionaires influence in the Kenyan economy.
The BIC stationery brands will now be manufactured and distributed by Paris Stock Exchange listed Societe BIC which owns the BIC brands.
Kirubi has taken the loss of the rights and manufacturing capacity positively saying it would provide Haco Industries with an opportunity to diversify and expand its business. .
“My success is Kenya’s success and after nearly forty years of fruitful collaboration with BIC, and having built the business to become Kenya’s number one Stationery manufacturer and distributor, this transaction is tangible proof of BIC’s confidence and belief in Kenya and the growth potential of the region,” said Kirubi.
“Until the completion of the transfer, BIC and HACO will continue to work together for the mutual benefit of all stakeholders and the respective businesses to achieve a smooth transition” he added.
But the take over by the French firm is likely to be interpreted as opportunistic and in bad faith given that it has taken place at a time when the Kirubi is recuperating from debilitating fight with cancer.
It also comes at a time when Kirubi has invested close to 40 years building a manufacturing and distribution capacity that positioned BIC products as best in their product categories in the country.
The two firms did not disclose the value of the transaction which is still subject to Kenyan competition regulator’s approval.
In a press release sent to media houses today, Haco Industries Kenya Ltd and Societe BIC said they had agreed to have the manufacturing and distribution of BIC products to BIC.
“The definitive agreement will result in the transfer of the manufacturing facilities in Kenya and the distribution of Stationery, Lighters, and Shavers in East Africa from HACO Industries to BIC. Subject to the Kenyan Competition Authority approval, the transfer is expected to be completed by 1st January 2019,” said the two firms in the release.
This transaction is in line with BIC’s continued growth strategy in Africa, and the long‐term growth plans of HACO Industries, which aims to diversify its portfolio and presence in Western & Southern Africa, according to the release.
Commenting on the move, Societe BIC Chief Executive Officer, Gonzalve Bich noted: “This is a tremendous opportunity to strengthen BIC’s position in one of the most promising markets for BIC products in the world. BIC has a strong historical presence in Africa; with a solid industrial and distribution footprint, this continent is a key asset for BIC’s development. Building on our strong brand awareness in the region, thanks to Dr. Chris Kirubi’ s and HACO Industries stewardship over the last 40 years, I am confident that this agreement will reinforce BIC’s long‐term growth prospects in the region and generate value for all our stakeholders as we fully integrate the business into the BIC Group”.