The Aga Khan, who founded the Group in 1962, now holds 44.73 percent of its shares. Instead of continuing to hold them through his personal account, he will transfer them to a development company of which he is chairman, the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), which initiated its activities in eastern Africa in 1962 and has since expanded to 19 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.
AKFED is organised as a Swiss corporation, headquartered in Geneva, and dedicated to investing in the less developed countries of Asia and Africa, in a way which expands the economy, creates employment, promotes the transfer of technology and enhances corporate social responsibility.
The Aga Khan is chairman of the company and his brother, Prince Amyn Aga Khan, chairs its executive committee.
AKFED has shareholdings in different countries and in many fields of economic endeavour. Its activities range from food processing to packaging and printing, from tourism to power supply, from banking, microfinance and insurance to telecommunications.
As the Nation Media Group enters a new era of corporate expansion, its more direct participation in the Aga Khan’s wide-ranging family of development institutions will be a spur to company growth and a new source of corporate strength.
The Aga Khan believes that "putting these NMG shares into an institutional framework will ensure the long term continuity of the Nation Media Group."
He has informed the Capital Markets Authority that AKFED does not intend to sell or transfer these shares in the foreseeable future.
The Aga Khan emphasised that his commitment to the group would remain undiminished. "I shall continue to watch over the future of NMG, to demonstrate my continued personal support for the group, and to bring to it the same level of thought as I have contributed in the past".
The group’s role as an independent source of news and information for the people of East Africa will continue.
"No change in the board of directors of the group is anticipated, nor in its management, nor in its relationships with its staff, its readers, its advertisers or any other institutions or constituencies in Kenya or other parts of the region," the Aga Khan said.
"The Nation has built a proud record of journalistic excellence - and commercial competence - over the past forty years and I will continue to do everything I can to ensure that its reputation for editorial integrity and for business accomplishment is sustained and enhanced in the years ahead".
The Nation Media Group will continue to be independently managed, reporting directly to its own board of directors. That Board, in turn, will continue to be elected by all of the company’s shareholders, the majority of whom are Kenyan residents.
News of the shareholding reorganisation was broken to journalists by group chairman Hannington Awori.
He stressed there would be no change in the way the group was run, pointing out that the membership of the board and management would remain the same.
Group chief executive Wilfred Kiboro explained that there was no beneficial change in the move and that by transferring shares to a corporate entity – a company he owns – the Aga Khan wanted to ensure continuity.