Meera Investments Limited, a company owned by businessman Sudhir Ruparelia, has emerged as the best bidder and now becomes the owner of Simbamanyo House, the building that accommodates Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
The building, located at Plot 2 Lumumba Avenue, was auctioned by Equity Bank Uganda in an effort to recoup an unpaid loan amounting to about $8.1m from Simbamanyo Estates.
In a letter to tenants, Equity Bank announced the takeover and asked them to corporate with Meera Investment, the new landlord.
“We are writing to inform you that Equity Bank Uganda Limited, as mortgage, has completed the sale of the above-mentioned property, after a public auction concluded on October 8, 2020, to the best evaluated bidder M/s Meera Investments Limited.
“The new owners will be getting in touch with all tenants individually to work out the modalities for their ownership transition. We trust you will accord the new owners all courtesy and all future rental payments and other tenant inquiries and obligation will be handled by Meer Investments Ltd or their agents," Equity Bank said in a notice.
Sam Kirubi, the managing director of Equity Bank, who signed of the notice, said that all the tenants were put on notice about the auctioning of the property in an advert placed in Daily Monitor newspaper on September 8.
Meera Investments Limited was also immediately after the sale registered on the title of Plot 2 Lumumba Avenue. Johnson Bigiira, the senior registrar of titles in Ministry of Lands said Meera Investments Limited was registered on the title under Instrument Number KCCA 00074649.
Sudhir said that Meera Investment participated in the competitive bidding and his $5m was displayed as the best evaluated bid.
“Meera Investments Limited were the highest bidder for the auction from Equity Bank and acquired the property by the pay of $5m. We are ready to meet our new tenants and promise to cooperate with them,” Sudhir said.
Simbamanyo Estates is embroiled in a property dispute with Equity Bank Uganda and Equity Bank Kenya resulting from unpaid loans.
Documents in the Commercial Division of the High Court show that on August 20, 2012, Equity Bank entered into a financial transaction agreement that would lead the financial institution to release $6m to Simbamanyo Estates.
The two banks, details indicate, pooled money together to advance the facility with at least $3.5m drawn from Equity Bank Kenya and $2.5m from Equity Bank Uganda.
Simbamanyo Estates which acquired the loan to finance the construction of Afrique Suites Hotel in Mutungo failed to meet its loan obligation leading to the situation at hand.
The total outstanding including interest and operational fees, among others, court documents show, would come to at least $8.10m.
Fred Muwema, the lawyer representing Simbamnayo Estate in this matter, said the matter is still in court and that there is caveat already on the property forbidding transfer until the case is heard and resolved.
“The battle is not over and as we speak, we are in possession of the property, I don’t understand why the bank is in the hurry. This has happened before and we took it away from them. The bank should wait until the final decision on this matter is made.” Muwema said.