Hong Kong company buys major stake in Nairobi-based airline

A master plan of sorts seems to be unfolding in Kenya, where within the space of 5 weeks, DVN Holdings, a Hong Kong-listed company, acquired a major stake in a second locally registered aviation company. News broke yesterday in Nairobi that DVN had apparently acquired a 49 percent stake in Phoenix Aviation which is based at Wilson Airport in Nairobi and engages in aircraft charters and aircraft maintenance, among other aviation services.

First it was Kijipwa Aviation, based in Kilifi, a relatively small aviation company, in which DVN acquired a 49 percent stake in late February, then announcing that they were to bring on line as many as two dozen additional aircraft to boost the operational capacity of the firm. However, the acquisition of a similar share in Phoenix may change those plans as suggestions have been floated already among the aviation fraternity at Wilson Airport that the operations of the two local airlines may be consolidated or aligned under one umbrella or at least they will be working under one central command.

While DVN reportedly dished out some 1.2 billion Kenya shillings to acquire the 49 percent stake in Phoenix, no confirmed value could be obtained for the acquisition of the Kijipwa shares.

Both investments have been linked to the discovery of significant oil deposits in Kenya and the apparent need of international oil exploration companies to contract a range of services from local Kenyan companies, including aviation. It is noteworthy that the Chairman of DVN, one Erik Prince, is also the founder of Blackwater, a US defense contractor, which gained notoriety during the Iraq war. He, according to information available on the web, sold some of his business interests to Hong Kong based DNV where he is now Chairman of the Board of Directors and as such in a very influential position to shape the direction of the company such as acquisitions.

The fact that such individuals and companies are now not just eyeing Kenya but investing heavily may be a harbinger of things yet to come, all linked of course to Kenya’s newfound oil wealth but surely also reflecting on the security situation in the country, which may well have prompted the international oil companies already prospecting for oil to seek those additional services Blackwater once provided in Iraq.