The founder and ‘CEO’ of HealthPlus Ltd, Mrs. Bukky George, revealed she put up her house as collateral to help fund operations of the company she founded in 1999. She revealed this to Nairametrics, in an exclusive interview granted to our Analyst, at Southern Sun, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The Nairametrics’ Lead Analyst sat with Mrs. George, to get a first-hand account of her side of the story, that has pit Private Equity investors from the UK, against the Founder of a business seeking cash to expand their operations.
Nairametrics asked a range of questions, some of which she preferred not to respond to as the matter was still in court. However, in one of the remarks, she confirmed that she had to put up her house as collateral, to get funding from a financial institution. She also implied that the Private Equity firm’s modus operandi was to starve her company of funds, so they can watch the business falter, allowing them to buy on the cheap.
“When the funds stopped coming, I had to put my house as collateral, and my personal guarantee is also collateral too. Apart from the money they invested, they don’t have much to lose, but I have everything to lose. When the funding never came, I invested my life savings.”
She emphasized that the modus operandi of some of these investors is, “They come, they pledge, give you some money, and stop. When the business dies, they buy at peanut.”
According to Mrs. George, the failure of the private equity firm, Alta Semper, to disburse the balance of the $18 million, hampered the operations of a once-thriving business. They paid less than half of the total sum.
“The agreement is to fund our operations without delay. The objectives are the premise of the balance funds. However, 18 months on, the balance is still outstanding. We could not meet our target, because more than half of the funds has not been released to us. We were doing well in the first year of the deal, but the DNA changed after 1 year,” she said.
She also hammered on how Alta Semper starved them of working capital, resulting in their inability to stock their shelves with drugs. Saying, “We had board meetings, they are the financial gurus. They saw the working capital and our cash flow and made no comment. I would not fight if I am not sure of winning the case. They were watching us dwindle. We needed to buy drugs on our shelves, but we couldn’t get the fund. We spoke every week, but they kept promising that they will fund me in two weeks. Our agreement indicates that we were joined at the hips, that is, they can’t make decisions without my consent and vice verse.”
Mrs. George insisted that the technical agreement she had signed with Alta Semper, required that they perform certain obligations, which they have failed to fulfill, leading to her decision to go to court.
“We signed a technical agreement, they had obligations but failed to achieve one. I can’t go into details, because we are in court. When I put it down in writing, they compelled me to retract it. When I complained about what is not going right, they stayed mute. I had no choice but to go to court,” she stated.
She also provided her own view of why the other two directors, former Chairman, Dr. Ayo Salami, and Mr. Deji Akinyanju had resigned from the board.
Saying, “The Chairman resigned last week Thursday, another Director resigned 5 weeks ago (that is my nominee Director). A day after the Chairman resigned, they swooped in when we didn’t have a constituted board. They had asked the banks to hijack our account, but they denied it, requesting board resolution, and approved minutes for the meeting. They have not been able to provide that.”
Mrs. George also claimed that the employees of HealthPlus were on her side because she is a ‘good boss’, which is why they avoided meeting with representatives of Alta Semper.
“When they called staff for a meeting on Friday, everybody ignored the call. They tried a zoom meeting, everyone ignored it. If I am not a good boss, don’t you think they would have rushed to the meeting?” she asked.
Nairametrics maintains a neutral stance in this matter. We have also reached out to the representatives of Alta Semper to get their own side of the story. We will keep you updated, as it unfolds in the coming days.