By Dipo Olowookere
The management of Health Plus Limited has accused its foreign partner, Alta Semper Capital, a private equity firm (PEF), of attempting to take over the company by removing its founder, Mrs Olubukunola Adewunmi (Bukky) George, illegally.
A statement purportedly from the pharmaceutical firm on Friday had announced Mr Chidi Okoro as the incoming Chief Transformation Officer (CTO) of the company, which was established in 1999.
But in a statement issued on Saturday, Health Plus said it did not authorise the Friday’s press release, accusing Alta Semper, local businesswoman and businessmen of attempting to reap “where they have not sown,” urging the “general public, the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, our staff, loyal customers, vendors, landlords, bankers and all stakeholders” to ignore the content of the statement.
Health Plus explained that in 2018, it partnered with Alta Semper for the injection of fresh capital into the business to take it to higher heights. The company explained further that the agreement was to have the foreign investor “exit after 5 years.”
In view of this, the founder gave “the PEF a controlling stake in order for them to realise their investment,” but things changed “because of the greed of the owners of Alta Semper and their ulterior motive of hijacking a thriving pharmaceutical concern in Nigeria given the potentially vast Nigerian market.”
Health Plus claimed Alta Semper “deliberately” starved the company of pledged funds and despite being reminded of its obligations, it did not make amends, which forced Mrs George in institute legal action against the PEF in May 2020 at the Federal High Court in suit no. FHC/L/CS/609/2020, seeking to stop Health Plus Africa Holdings Limited, the investment vehicle used by Alta Semper Capital and which they control, and their nominee directors from continuing to run and manage the company in disregard of her interests as a member of the company.
“Their actions included the deliberate delay and withholding of funds, meddling with management, interference with the functions of key employees, abuse of corporate governance processes and now the attempt to remove her as CEO,” the statement said.
Health Plus noted that there is already a pending motion on notice for interlocutory injunction dated May 27, 2020, to restrain the respondents from doing this “but in flagrant disregard of the court process Alta Semper and its cohorts have purported to do just that.”
Health Plus, which prides itself as Nigeria’s first integrative pharmacy, currently operates over 90 pharmacy and beauty retail stores, located in 11 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, employing over 850 Nigerians and is the largest private employer of pharmacists in Nigeria.
The company has a reputation for excellence. Its extensive product portfolio includes prescription-only-medicines, over-the-counter medicines, nutritional supplements, natural remedies, beauty and grooming products; with a strong emphasis on local procurement and an active drive to uplift the communities they operate in with their range of pharmacy services and free health screenings.
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