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Kenya Airways retains Mbuvi Ngunze to help clean books

Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer Mbuvi Ngunze. (Boniface Okendo,Standard)O

Kenya Airways’ outgoing Chief Executive Officer Mbuvi Ngunze might see his stay at the airline extended as he lends a hand in restructuring of the airline’s balance sheet.

Mr Ngunze, who last year tendered his resignation from the airline and was expected to exit in the course of the first quarter of this year, will now stay on until KQ concludes a balance sheet restructuring process that began last year, KQ Board chairman Michael Joseph told The Sunday Standard. The chief executive is leaving after a five-year stint at the airline, two of which he served as Group MD and CEO.

Mr Joseph said Ngunze would stay past the first quarter exit date as his input is necessary in the financial restructuring process.

“Mr Ngunze will stay on until we have completed the financial restructuring process. This has taken much longer than expected as there are many players, stakeholders and institutions to consult and to get agreement on the proposals. We hope to complete this shortly but I don’t want to give a firm timeline yet as there are too many moving parts,” said Joseph.

The financial restructuring process was among the priority areas that Joseph said he would focus on when he took over as the chair of the KQ’s board last October. Speaking then, Joseph said the restructuring was aimed at securing longer credit terms and address spikes in interest rates that have had a toll on the firm’s financials.

He said the airline was nearing completion of its search for a new chief executive, noting that the board will select from a shortlist of candidates and make an announcement in the course of April. “We are close to the end of the search for the new CEO. Hopefully this will be finalised soon. We need to make sure we have selected the right candidates to interview and the short list needs to go through an assessment process. All this takes time. But I am hopeful that we will complete the selection and appointment before the end of April,” he said.

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KQ’s senior management team is currently without a substantive human resource director and the chief finance officer, who are critical in implementation of Operation Pride, a turnaround strategy that aims at addressing KQ’s financial performance. Joseph said the airline is in the final phase of selecting a human resource director. The position fell vacant after Alban Mwendar’s resignation in 2016.

The airline will, however, continue operating without a substantive chief finance officer after Alex Mbugua, KQ’s former CFO, obtained a court order stopping it from recruiting a replacement. Mr Mbugua had gone to court and argued that he was unfairly dismissed.

“We are in the final stages of selecting a suitable HR Director. Unfortunately, we cannot employ a new CFO until we have resolved our legal issues with the previous CFO. This is still in the court system,” said Joseph.

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