LUSAKA Businessman Valden Findlay has offered Chrismar Hotel for sale to the National Pension Scheme Authority NAPSA, expecting a purchase price as high as US$18 million, when the deal is approved.

NAPSA confirmed to News Diggers that it received an offer for the sale of the property which is located at Plot number 6892 Los Angeles Boulevard in Lusaka, but said the decision to go ahead with the investment had not been made, as at Thursday August 13.

Impeccable sources revealed that Findlay who is a close associate of President Edgar Lungu was in the process of liquidating some of his assets, including Chrismar Hotel at inflated valuations.

“What we know is that three valuations were done on Chrismar Hotel, claiming that the property is worth US$10 million, US$11 million and US$18 million respectively. So the general feeling is that it has been too overpriced, but there is pressure for NAPSA to buy the hotel. There seems to be too much pressure coming from the government even when the value that has been attached just doesn’t make sense,” sources said.

On Wednesday, August 12, NAPSA issued a statement, rubbishing rumours that the Pensions Authority had bought the hotel, saying the report was fake news.

“The National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSAI is aware of a story circulating in some circles purporting that NAPSA has purchased Chrismar Hotel. The Authority wishes to categorically state that it has not purchased the named firm. Therefore, the story must be discarded as fake news,” stated head of corporate affairs Cephas Sinyangwe.

But News Diggers wrote a detailed query asking: What procedure NAPSA follows before making investments; if NAPSA had done a cost benefit analysis before making a consideration to procure the property; if it was true that three overpriced valuations were done on the property, placing the value at US$10 million, US$11 million and US$18 million; what NAPSA intended to use the property for; if the board was under external pressure to make the procurement decision; and if it was of concern to NAPSA that the property in question belonged to Findlay, a close friend of President Lungu, and that the values being discussed had no relationship with commercial sense.

In response to the News Diggers query, NAPSA confirmed receiving the offer of sale for Chrismar Hotel, adding that the offer was among hundreds of others, which came as a result of a call for proposals made last year.

“In July 2019, the National Pension Scheme Authority advertised a call for investment proposals (NAPSACIP/DI//1). (Refer to attached document).
The aim of the call was to give both public and private sector players an equal opportunity to present viable investment
proposals to the Authority. Hundreds of proposals were received. The proposal referred to in your query came through the same process,” stated Sinyangwe.

“All the proposals that were received were processed in accordance with the Authority’s Investments and operational guidelines, asset allocation, Statement of Investment Policy and Investment Strategy 2018 to 2021. I would like to state that the proposal referred to has not been approved.”

But sources insisted that the purchase had reached a negotiation stage.

“That matter is at negotiation stage. We are all surprised that they are even refuting the story as fake news because it is a fact. If you engage the Director General or anyone on the board, they will be able to confirm if they are honest, that it’s an ongoing negotiation. The money involved is just too much when you look at it,” said the sources.

“The other problem is that viability of the business. NAPSA is saying they invited public and private players to present viable investment proposals, but can they say Chrismar Hotel is a viable business? What business is there that can be worth US$18 million, or even US$10 million? That cannot be a good deal, and it takes us to the case of IDC (Industrial Development Corporation) where they have been buying loss making entities just because they are owned by people who are close to State House. So, if this Chrismar deal goes ahead, Zambia will lose a great deal of money and NAPSA will not be able to recover its investment. But you must remember that this is people’s money that they are playing with.”