By Keefa Nuwahereza
Tenants at Simbamanyo House inn Kampala are on tenterhooks after they learnt that tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia has built the building comprised in LRV Folio 3 Plot 2, Lumumba Avenue Simbamanyo House from Equity Bank.
The Bank sold Simbamanyo House to Sudhir’s Meera Investments Ltd on October 8th, 2020, after its former owner Peter Kamya failed to service a Shs11.5Bn loan, which later multiplied into Shs38.6Bn with interest.
A letter from Equity Bank Managing Director Samuel Kirubi to all tenants and occupants, dated October 8th, 2020, copied to Simbamanyo Estates, which confirms the takeover of the building reads thus in part;
“SALE OF LAND COMPRISED IN LRV FOLIO 3 PLOT 2, LUMUMBA AVENUE SIMBAMANYO HOUSE (The Property)
We are writing to inform you that Equity Bank Uganda Limited, as mortgagee, has completed the sale of the above mentioned Property, after a public auction concluded on 8th October 2020, to the best evaluated bidder M/s Meera investments Ltd.
All tenants were put on notice of the said auction via an advert in the Daily Monitor Newspaper dated 8th September 2020.
The new owners will be getting in touch with all tenants individually to work out the modalities for the ownership transition.
We trust you will accord the new owners all courtesy and all future rental payments and other tenant inquiries and obligations will be handled by Meera Investments Ltd or their agents.”
Meera Investments has also since written to the tenants on Simbamanyo house in a letter dated 8th October,2020, through CL Risk Management Services Ltd notifying them of the new changes.
The letter states in part that;
“We act for and behalf of Equity Bank Uganda a (hereinafter referred to as the “Bank”) to notify you that Equity Bank has SOLD the above mentioned property today, 08th day of October 2020, having been mortgaged to the Bank by Simbamanyo Estates Limited, your former Landlord and following a default in the performance of their loan obligations. The property has been sold to Meera Investments limited thus making them your new landlord
Nobody else, whether Simbamanyo Estates Limited, Peter Kamya or any other person claiming through them, has any power or authority over the said property.
Anybody else, who purports to deal with the said property in any manner inconsistent with that of Meera Investments limited, commits an offence and is liable to legal sanctions.
You are now requested to regularize your tenancy, occupancy and use of the property with the new Landlord (Meera Investments Limited). In particular, you should not pay any rent or other monies to anybody other than Meeera Investments Limited.
TAKE NOTICE THEREFORE that unless you comply with the terms of the new/current landlord, you will be physically evicted therefrom at your own embarrassment and costs.
No further or other notice or warning will be given.
Your cooperation in this matter will be highly appreciated.”
Simbamanyo House originally belonged to city businessman Peter Kamya, who staked it as collateral security to Equity Bank in 2017 for a Shs11.5Bn loan, which he later failed to service until it accrued to Shs38.6Bn, prompting the bank to distress the property and later sell it to the highest bidders, in this case, Meera Investments Limited, which acquired the property at Shs18.5Bn.
Documents submitted in court indicate that Simbamanyo Estates sought to offset the outstanding sum in a November 16, 2017 letter to Samuel Kirubi of Equity Bank Group Kenya.
In the letter, Simbamanyo, acting through NISK Capital, sought to restructure the loan with a USD10m Standby Letter of Credit secured from Bank One.
Therefore, Equity argued that, Simbamanyo or its agent were fully aware of all transactions and the case it had filed in March was a “guise or scheme” to defer the performance of its financial obligation that it had since defaulted on.
Kamya, acting through Muwema Co Advocates and Solicitors argued that Equity Bank had breached contractual trust and engaged in unethical and illegal conduct but court trashed his argument.
With time Kamya and Simbamanyo Estates realized they were fighting a losing battle and it was not long before Equity Bank went ahead and sold the building to Meera Investments Ltd.