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Best Western lost N8bn in eight months — Owner

Best Western lost N8bn in eight months — Owner

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Anna Okon

Eight months after his hotel, Best Western, was sealed off by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, the Group Managing Director of Suru Group Limited; Mr. Edward Akinlade, said that the exercise resulted in a huge loss of assets and cash amounting to N8bn.

AMCON reportedly took over the hotel located on Allen Avenue, Ikeja over N24bn debt.

The debt, reports said, was N10bn loan obtained from the defunct Oceanic Bank, which was eventually taken over by Ecobank.

As of the time of the takeover by AMCON, interest on the loan had accumulated, making it N24bn.

While informing journalists that the Federal High Court had in March 22 ruled against the takeover of the hotel, Akinlade said that during the period the hotel was under lock and key by AMCON, rats infested the premises and ate N1.5bn worth of furniture.

He said that the hotel which made an average of N900m annually also lost billions of naira in revenue.

He said, “I was running a lucrative real estate business in London; I had assets worth ten million pounds in 2006. If I had remained in London at that time, nobody would have been able to do this to me.

“When I met Cecelia Ibru, she agreed to give us N13.5bn and in-flow from the UK was N6.5bn to make it N20bn. We bought so many assets with that loan. The whole idea was to list the assets on the Nigerian Stock Exchange four years later.

“We could have done private placement of N20bn in 2006.  I could have bought a company that was not doing well at the NSE.”

He added, “If I reopen the hotel, I cannot call it Best Western again because the franchise owner has withdrawn from the franchise.  The patronage will not also be the same. I don’t know if I can recover my N6.3bn.”

Citing court documents which he shared with journalists, Akinlade said that the court had determined that AMCON abused court processes during the  takeover of the hotel.

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