LUSAKA Businessman Valden Findlay says he has not forced the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) to buy Chrismar Hotel and he has not sold it.
And NAPSA says the Authority has informed the hotel that the purchase will not take place.
Recently, News Diggers reported that NAPSA was winding up a purchase transaction of Chrismar Hotel, a Lusaka based business that is owned by President Edgar Lungu’s close friend Findlay.
In August this year, News Diggers published a story revealing that NAPSA was facing political pressure to buy the Hotel, but the Pension Authority vehemently denied having made a decision to buy the property and rubbished the story as fake news.
But according to correspondence seen by News Diggers, NAPSA wrote to Chrismar Hotel seeking to renegotiate the deal after the board approved the decision to buy the hotel.
But in an interview, Findlay said he had not sold the hotel, saying Diggers was just using his name to sell the paper.
“How can I force anybody? I did not force NAPSA and I haven’t sold it so it’s all lies. If my name doesn’t appear on Diggers, you don’t sell. You should give me shares when you sell because it is my name that sells that paper. You like provoking me. All your stories are lies! Why didn’t you phone me before you published?” fumed Findlay.
And in a statement, Wednesday, NAPSA head corporate affairs Cephas Sinyangwe said the purchase of the hotel would not take place.
“The National Pension Scheme Authority wishes to dispel the story that appeared in yesterday’s edition of the News Diggers! Newspaper headlined: NAPSA goes ahead to buy Chrismar Hotel.’ We would like to inform members of the public that the said purchase has not taken place and will not take place. Harberton Limited the proprietors of Chrismar Hotel have been duly informed about this development. The allegations are therefore false and must be disregarded,” stated Sinyangwe.
In a letter addressed to Haberton Limited managing director, NAPSA Director General Yollard Kachinda stated that the Authority was inviting the hotel for re-negotiations on the offer price for land and buildings only.
“Dear Sir, Re: Negotiation for the purchase of plot number 6982 in Lusaka. Further to the negotiation meeting of 12th June, 2020, over the purchase of plot number 6982 in Lusaka (refer to copy of minutes herewith attached for the ease of reference), we write to advise that the offer of current hotel business aspect of the transactions by yourselves and the consideration thereof by the NAPSA negotiating team was outside your initial offer and subsequent approval by the NAPSA board of trustees,” the letter read.
“Kindly note that the NAPSA board of trustees approval was for the purchase of land and buildings only and was based on your offer, hence did not include the current hotel business, which would have required specialised due diligence if it was part of your initial offer. In this regard, and in order to comply with the NAPSA board of trustees’ approval, we hereby invite you for re-negotiating on your offer price for land and buildings only.”
According to sources, NAPSA failed to resist political pressure to buy the hotel.
“This never went away, at the time when you were writing the story that there was an intention to buy the hotel, the negotiations had reached an advanced stage. Right now, the purchase is almost done and all the negotiations were concluded. So we have a situation where NAPSA will be spending millions of dollars worth of people’s pension contributions, on a business that does not make sense at all,” said the sources.
NAPSA has previously 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 was not made.
Impeccable sources revealed that Findlay, who is President Edgar Lungu’s close associate and business partner, was in the process of liquidating some of his assets, including Chrismar Hotel but 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 government, even when the value that has been attached just doesn’t make sense,” sources said.