Contrary to reports in some sections of the media, the raging ownership dispute between pharmaceutical retail chain, HealthPlus, and its private equity partner, United Kingdom’s Alta Semper Capital, may be as a result of the latter’s inability to raise funds for the second tranche of equity investment as agreed. Sources close to the matter disclosed that the equity firm kept dithering when it was time to make funds available for the second tranche, which was due 15 months ago.
Insiders also disclosed that contrary to the widespread notion that the second tranche was intended to completely buy out the stake held by HealthPlus founder and CEO, Mrs Olubukunola George, it was to initiate and/or complete previously agreed strategic business initiatives and simultaneously reduce her shareholding at a future pre-agreed date.”Stories about HealthPlus not meeting agreed milestones as the reason for the withholding of the second tranche, I tell you, are pure inventions. The equity firm just wanted a pretext. Those of us familiar with the deal will tell you Alta Semper Capital have been finding it difficult to raise funds,” said an insider. The dispute between the two equity partners, which became public following an Alta Semper Capital’s announcement of leadership change in HealthPlus, has dominated business discourse over the last one week and has sparked calls by Nigerian business founders to the Federal Government on the need to better protect local entrepreneurs from greedy equity firms and venture capitalists. George, founder and CEO, has insisted she remains in charge of the firm, arguing that the removal of a CEO requires the approval of the five-member board of directors. She also stated, through her lawyers, that the company does not currently have a board, following the resignation of the Chairman, a nominee of the equity firm, and another member, whom she nominated.