Pwani Oil Products has acquired stationery firm Kartasi Industries Limited for an undisclosed sum in a strategic move to diversify its business.

The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) has indicated that it has approved the deal on the condition that Kartasi’s 69 permanent employees are retained for 12 months after the transaction is concluded.

Pwani Oil, the manufacturer of Freshfri, Salit, and Fry Mate cooking oils, is a major player in the edible vegetable oils and fats industry and toilet soaps business.

The firm has created a new entity called Kartasi Products Limited, which will house the new business for the company that was established in 1978 to produce power alcohol from sugar cane molasses.

“Kartasi Products, the acquiring undertaking is newly incorporated in Kenya, for the sole purpose of the proposed transaction. Its affiliates are involved in, among others, the manufacture of cooking oil and fats, property.

Kartasi Industries is a major player in the manufacture of the educational and commercial stationery market which has more than 400 players. It is the third largest player with a 9.7 percent market share behind Twiga Stationers and Printers (38.8 percent) and Kenafric Manufacturing Limited (20.9 percent). Others are Economic Industries Limited (9.6 percent), Guaca Stationers Limited (6.5 percent), Elite Offset Ltd (5.7 percent), Safari Stationers (K) Ltd (4.3 percent) and National Printing Press Ltd (0.5 percent).

The company has been on an expansion drive by acquiring the popular Ushindi soap brand, boosting its presence in the fast-growing personal and home care products category.

The acquisition gave it a bigger slice of the lucrative personal and homecare product market along with its brands White Wash and Ndume.

Pwani Oil also acquired the Rainbow detergent soap brand from Match Masters Limited.

The fast-moving consumer goods manufacturer has also expanded into soap finishing lines that make a large variety of specialty soap grades like stamped soap bars used in the hospitality sector.