Uganda | Kampala | Real Muloodi News | In an open letter posted to his Twitter account, Patrick Bitature explains his side of the story regarding his standoff with South African money lender, Vantage Capital.
Bitature entered into a loan agreement through his Simba Group of Companies with the South African-based equity firm eight years ago.
In a statement issued on Monday, May 30, 2022, Bitature says he signed up to Vantage Capital’s “Mezzanine Term Facility Agreement” (MTFA) in 2014, and secured USD$10 million to fund the completion of his Protea by Marriott Skyz Hotel, and working capital for his ElectroMaxx Power subsidiary.
Bitature says the agreement had a 3-year moratorium (freeze) for repayment of both the principal and interest, with the first payment being due in 2017.
However, the businessman says unforeseen challenges such as the delay of the Final Investment Decision (FID) on Uganda’s oil and gas projects, and Vantage’s requirement that Simba Group improve the Hotel’s fire and safety features to internationally benchmarked standards, hindered Simba Group’s envisaged projects.
Bitature explains that as a result, Simba Group proactively engaged Vantage for a further grace period of two more years, thereby mutually agreeing to freeze all payments until December 2019.
When December 2019 arrived, Vantage issued a demand for the principal and interest from 2014 onwards, and by early 2020, the said amount had increased.
However Bitature says his company was at that time faced with the challenges that came with the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the economy, which made it impossible to pay the first instalment.
It is at this point that Vantage attempted to transfer shares in his Simba Group of Companies, which they had held for security. It is also from that point that misunderstandings occurred, according to the businessman.
Bitature says he had sought the intervention of Court to secure a determination on several issues, including the issue of the acceleration of the interest rate which in real terms is over 35% per annum in USO.
The Court referred the Parties to arbitration to settle the dispute. Vantage therefore filed a Request to Arbitrate at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in London. Bitature says Simba duly acknowledged and responded to the Request to Arbitrate, and continues to participate in the arbitration process.
Bitature says the misunderstanding was sparked off when, despite the ongoing arbitration, Vantage published an advert in a local daily newspaper announcing an auction of some of the properties belonging to Simba Group over the unpaid loan.
Bitature explains Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB) declined to register the transfer of shares, and directed Vantage to follow the direction of Court to resolve the issues at arbitration first.
Vantage being displeased with URSB’s decision, sought judicial review in the High Court seeking mandamus orders to direct URSB to transfer the shares.
However, the court on the 9th of May 2022 dismissed the case on the grounds that Vantage had violated mandatory provisions of the law under the Partnership Act and the Business Names Registration Act, thereby in effect lacking legal presence to sue or be sued.
The businessman says that despite this ruling, Vantage went on to advertise Simba Group’s properties on the 18th of May 2022 in total disregard to the foundation and concerns raised by Court in its decision. This inevitably sparked off a media firestorm.
Bitature closes his statement with an assurance to his business partners, clients, stakeholders and the general public that as a business, Simba is committed to having this business dispute resolved at the earliest opportunity, and will continue to operate and unreservedly serve the nation as they have done for the last thirty years.
There have been several rumours and attacks made against me and The Simba Group Of Companies on both social and mainstream media stemming from the Vantage Loan Saga.
In this open letter, I share my truth as to what truly transpired. pic.twitter.com/G8BeoK0NK2
— Patrick Bitature (@patrickbitature) May 30, 2022
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