Posted November 3, 2020 5:28 am by

Wealthy and influential investors behind SportPesa have fallen out over allegations of transfer of $278 million (Sh29.1 billion) from the company’s coffers to overseas accounts and sale of shares in the firm’s holding company.

The shareholder fight in the sports betting platform is pitting local majority shareholders against its foreign owners from Bulgaria in a row that erupted when SportPesa announced its return under Milestone, a business licensed last month.

Businessman Paul Wanderi Ndung’u and Asenath Wacera Maina, who have a combined stake of 38 percent, reckon they were not informed of the Milestone deal, which was made public by SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri on Friday.

Mr Ndung’u reckons that local top shareholders of Pevans East Africa, the entity behind SportPesa in Kenya, were excluded from buying shares in the holding company — SportPesa Global Holding Limited (SGHL) — leading to dilution of their ownership in the UK-based firm.

SportPesa Global owns the European and Tanzania gaming businesses and recently claimed to also own the SportPesa brand, sparking protests from local shareholders led by Mr Ndung’u who claims that Pevans East Africa owns that betting platform and trade name.

The deal with Milestone was arranged on the strength that the brand belonged to SGHL and not Pevans East Africa, which was last year blocked from operating in Kenyan market seemingly due to a tax row.

Local shareholders are fretful that the deal, which was on Saturday blocked by the regulators, could have left Pevans East Africa a shell.

Foreign owners led by Bulgarians owned 80 percent of SGHL in January while they had a 47 percent interest in Pevans.

Mr Ndung’u, who holds a 17 percent stake in Pevans and 2.8 percent of SGHL, blew the lid on the shareholder wars that have been simmering since 2017.

In a statement issued yesterday, he accused Mr Karauri of having allied himself with the firm’s foreign investors to run the sport betting platform without consulting the board, notably local shareholders.

Ms Maina, another shareholder with a 21 percent stake in Pevans, demanded a forensic audit on the company starting from 2015, a push that has been resisted.

“After persistent push, the management report indicated that within three years Pevans has transferred over $250 million (Sh27.1 billion) to various offshore accounts in Isle of Man, Dubai and Las Palmas/Canary Islands,” Mr Ndung’u said.

“Shareholders have also come to learn that subsequent to ceasing operations, $500,000 (Sh54.3 million) has been transferred from Pevans to SportPesa South Read More…SportPesa owners in bitter fallout over Sh29 billion transfer, shares  SportPesa owners in bitter fallout over Sh29 billion transfer, shares  SportPesa owners in bitter fallout over Sh29 billion transfer, shares  SportPesa owners in bitter fallout over Sh29 billion transfer, shares