The management of HealthPlus Nigeria has said that the reported appointment of Chidi Okoro as Chief Transformation Officer (CTO) of the company is wholly false and illegal, as Pharm. (Mrs) Olubukunola Adewunmi George remains the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
In a rejoinder mailed to Pharmanewsonline titled: “Attempted Hostile Takeover By Foreign Private Equity Firm”, the HealthPlus management described the development as the handiwork of some unscrupulous foreign and local businesspeople, whose intention is to reap where they have not sown.
The statement called the attention of the general public, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, staff, loyal customers, vendors, landlords, bankers and stakeholders to disregard the news, stressing that George remains the company’s chief executive.
Part of the statement read: “We wish to inform the general public, the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, our staff, loyal customers, vendors, landlords, bankers and all stakeholders are advised to totally disregard and ignore the earlier unauthorised press release from those who have no real stake in the company, its employees or Nigeria. Mrs Bukky George remains the founder and CEO of the company and is focused on preserving and growing this national treasure”.
The HealthPlus management explained how they entered into a partnership agreement with a private foreign equity firm (PEF), Alta Semper, to inject fresh capital to further grow the business in 2018.
“Alta Semper was to exit after 5 years according to the Agreement reached with that company and its associates and Mrs George was prepared to give the PEF a controlling stake in order for them to realise their investment,” the statement revealed.
The pharmaceutical company’s management added that, unknown to them, the partnership was doomed to fail from the onset due to the ulterior motive of Alta Semper’s management to hijack a thriving pharmaceutical business in Nigeria, given the potentially vast Nigerian market.
The HealthPlus management further said: “Thus the endeavour was to run into troubled waters primarily on account of Alta Semper’s futile attempts to take-over the company, leading to it deliberately starving the company of pledged funds as well as the intransigence of Alta Semper’s owners when reminded of their obligations.
“This present unilateral unlawful attempt that purports to remove Mrs Bukky George as CEO and install their appointee using the cover-term ‘Chief Transformation Officer’ is the latest escalation of their bid to subvert the laws of Nigeria and perpetuate the foreign domination of a flagship Nigerian pharmaceutical industry.
“This unprincipled and unethical behaviour, typical of PEF’s who use of local stooges to achieve their nefarious ends will continue to be stoutly and vigorously resisted.”
Although the HealthPlus management noted that Mrs George instituted a legal action in May 2020 at the Federal High Court [Suit No. FHC/L/CS/609/2020] seeking by way of a petition to stop HealthPlus Africa Holdings Limited (the investment vehicle used by Alta Semper Capital and which they control) from being managed against her interest, Alta Semper Capital nominees who are respondents to the suit failed to file any defence and appealed that the parties mediate their dispute.
It would be recalled that on Friday, a member of the Board of Directors of HealthPlus, Zachary Fond, had briefed pressmen on the appointment of Mr Chidi Okoro as the Chief Transformation Officer (CTO) to provide interim leadership for the company.
Fond, who spoke with journalists through a press release bearing his signature, said: “The Board has been exploring the optimal way to grow the business for some time, in collaboration with Mrs George. Unfortunately, we have been unable to reach an agreement, which has hindered the operations of the company and delayed the implementation of its growth plans.
“With the onset of the COVID pandemic, the rapid acceleration of the digital economy and the increased relevance of the healthcare sector as a whole, it has become urgent to ensure the company is optimally positioned to grow and able to take advantage of new and emerging opportunities. As a result, we have taken the strategic decision to change our leadership”.
However, the HealthPlus management insists that Mrs George remains fully in charge of the company, as the CEO.