Blow for Kenya as popular car manufacturer exits the market

The US-owned auto dealer calls it a day after 42-year presence in the country

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The country’s automotive industry has been dealt a big blow following the decision by a popular vehicle manufacturer to finally call it quits in Kenya.

General Motors East Africa is ready to exit Kenya after regulatory authorities approved the February 28 sale of its stake to Isuzu of Japan.

The auto dealer, whose exit was earlier scheduled for April, said yesterday it has received all necessary approvals from the Competition Authority of Kenya and the 19-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

“The Comesa approval just came in on Tuesday and now we have all the regulatory approvals from CAK and Comesa, and are soon going to start the process of name change and launch,” said the GM East Africa managing director Rita Kavashe.

The firm’s exit will now set the stage for rebranding of the Mombasa Road-based firm to Isuzu East Africa which acquired GM East Africa’s 57.7 per cent stake for an undisclosed value.

Isuzu will now take over the US-owned auto dealer, which was launched 42 years ago through a partnership with the government.

The new ownership structure will place Isuzu as the majority stakeholder alongside state-owned Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation with a 20 per cent holding, Centum Investments at 17.8 per cent while Japanese trading company Itochu Corporation will have a 4.5 per cent stake.

GM East Africa’s exit comes on the backdrop of a decline in new car sales during the month at 20.83 per cent to 304 units from 384 units sold in April. The firm, however, retained its position as market leader with a 32.14 per cent market share.

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