Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, a justice sitting at the federal high court in Lagos, has ruled that contempt of court proceedings against Alta Semper Capital, Chidi Okoro, and their other local collaborators will commence.
Alta Semper Capital, a private equity firm, has been involved in a tussle with HealthPlus, a pharmaceutical company, over controlling shares in the Nigerian entity.
In a November 4, 2020, ruling, Oguntoyinbo had ordered all parties in the dispute to maintain status quo pending the determination of the motion before the court.
Reacting to the ruling, a senior colleague to Bukky George, said: “The recent developments leave Alta Semper with only one option – to come to the round table, negotiate its exit and allow the legit management team rebuilds and restore HealthPlus to its former glory and more”.
“At inception, Alta Semper bought into a growth strategy only to make a u-turn, forcibly shrinking the company into a shadow of its old self. The partnership has been nothing short of a nightmare.
“While Nigeria is desirous of foreign investments, our doors are open to investors who are genuinely committed to supporting local entrepreneurs achieve their aspirations.
“Our doors are not open to investors who renege on agreements, only to use armed security officials and other extra-legal means to perpetuate a hostile takeover of the company’s operations.”
In March 2018, Alta Semper Capital agreed to invest $18 million, to be disbursed in two tranches, in HealthPlus.
The PEF was to exit after five years while Bukky George, HealthPlus founder, and CEO, would give the PEF a controlling stake for them to realise their investment.
The sum of $10 million was paid as the first tranche of the investment with the remainder due 12 months after the release of the first.
However, the second disbursement reportedly did not come after 12 months as agreed.
People familiar with the situation say the original source of funds invested by Alta Semper was expensive and the firm has been unable to secure cheaper funds.
“The Alta Semper story is common knowledge in the PE circles in the UK. They clearly have problems raising money. Their original fundraised through two family offices was very expensive,” a private equity executive in the UK said.
“They are struggling to find new money at a lower cost. Seemingly, HealthPlus is one of their prime assets, especially with the COVID situation. There is a lot of pressure for Alta Semper to increase their stake and look for an exit or IPO.”
Alta Semper is also said to have breached the conditions upon which the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) issued a ‘No Objection’ letter that facilitated the investment.
Thus, PCN has withdrawn the ‘No Objection’ letter/ waiver.