It is always one or the other; hate the player or loath the game. But when the player hates the game, the tables turn.
Never before in Kenya’s capital markets has a player been so hell bent on changing the rules of the game, well until that player was Cytonn Investments Group Chief Executive Officer Edwin Dande.
For many, Dande would be introduced as one of five former employees of regional firm, Britam, who dared break off and take on the giant underwriter in property investments.
Since then, Dande has remained at the heart of conversations among his industry peers.
In person, Dande is soft spoken, polite and easy going for his job title.
Yet his shrewdness, an attribute he has previously termed as misconception about him come to the surface when he talks about authority.
Dande might have the greatest disdain for authority as demonstrated in his ongoing duel with the Capital Markets Authority (CMA).
In the contest, Dande has appeared to undermine the markets watchdog, turning it to a toothless dog that can bark at you but never bite in a million years.
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At the heart of his disdain and often smug at the apex capital markets regulator has been the running of his high yield investment products, put simply his ‘innovative’ way of funding real estate projects.
Putting technicalities aside, Dande has shoved his ideas to the regulator and has taken no for an answer, terming the CMA as old, lethargic and even out of fashion each time he is turned down.
His weapon of trade is, however, the law, a profession he fancied after stepping out of the then and still prestigious Alliance Boys High School.
I have no count of litigations initiated by Dande against the CMA or anyone who dares step on his lane.
Perhaps, never has a man taken such a liking to suits, counter suits and appeals.
Dande, despite not branching into law has a keen grasp of the rule of the land as he seemingly boxes out his opponents in the dock.
Today, Dande has another trick up his sleeve and perhaps a handy last card to take the win at the casino.
Unsurprisingly, however, the new wand is the law, but flipped just enough to look different.
After fighting him hard to receive payments from investments in two high yielding solutions, aggrieved investors are not having the last laugh yet as he, Dande, somehow squeezes through to find a breathing room.
By voluntarily placing the Cytonn High Yield Solutions (CYHS) fund and Cytonn Project Notes (CPN) under a High Court ratified administration, no one can sue or auction Cytonn at least in the interim.
For the tens of investors baying for his blood through a planned class suit, the administration of the funds will come as a rude shock and perhaps as a well-aimed knockout punch.
Dande will now have the investors off his back as the pair of funds are granted a legal moratorium to continue operating as going concern.
Dande has dreamt of a legacy where he has built a stable, trusted and a leading industry brand.
While Cytonn remains far from this goal, Dande’s shrewdness still has him walking on troubled waters as his war wagers pay off to his favour.
Dande is nevertheless a brilliant mind having learnt from the very best.
With an MBA in Finance and Business Strategy from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, USA, Dande has rubbed shoulders with academicians who built the likes of former US President Donald Trump, a man who also has interests in real estate and who’s every step is never far away from controversy.
However, it is perhaps Dande’s time with the disgraced and now defunct Lehman Brothers Holdings between 2003 and 2005 that might have wired his current persona; a sharp, witty, yet shrewd business operator with quite the innovative means to fund real estate projects.