Embattled businessesman Patrick Bitature has come out to second his sincere apologies to his colleague and long time friend Sudhir Ruparelia.
This follows a social media campaign in which Sudhir had been depicted complicit in Bitature’s current financial woes.
In the past weeks, the local press clearly showed that Sudhir has a hand in what Bitature is going through with Vantage Capital, by alleging that the loan from the latter was used to pay Crane Bank Limited.
In a rather clear and categorical manner, Bitature took to his Twitter handle @patrickbitature and silenced the rumors, noting that it was a smear campaign and a deliberate move intended to ruin his relationship with his long time mentor Sudhir.
“I would like to assure all of you that I do not think anybody in Uganda and in particular my long time Sudhir Ruparelia is after my property. Unfortunately, this is part of deliberate smear campaign aimed at eroding both his and my reputation in the eyes of the public,” tweeted Bitature.
It will of course be remembered that Bitature’s Simba Properties Investment Company (SPIC) approached Vantage Capital in December 2014, for a $10 million loan to fund projects within the group, including his Marriott Skyz Hotel in Kampala and working capital for their Electromaxx power subsidiary.
Little did he know, that the economy would record a sluggish growth, precipitated by the delay of the Final Investment Decision (FID) on the oil and gas projects.
This further hindered the profitability of his envisaged projects, making it rather hard for him to complete the first repayment which was due in 2017, and by December 2019, the payment period after being allowed a two-year moratorium had elapsed, plunging him into serious dilemma.
Soon after securing the loan, Bitature at the time praised Vantage for the timely financial help. Now he does not want to pay the loan urguing that it is illegal, the date of repayment having elapsed in December 2019.
For instance he has said part of the loan he acquired from Vantage was paid to Crane Bank Limited (CBL), formely owned by Sudhir Ruparelia, the chairman of Ruparelia group. CBL was unfairly sold by Bank of Uganda (BoU) to DFCU in January 2017 in a transaction worth Shs. 200 billion paid in installments.
But in a shocking twist of events, the troubled city businessman yesterday admitted in a public declaration that he legally borrowed money from Vantage Mezzanine contrary to his lawyer Fred Muwema, who said Mezzanine was a ghost entity.
Bitature, who has come under severe public scruitny says he is willing to settle the loan with Vantage, despite the ongoing private prosecution initiated by the latter.
“As a business, we are committed to have this dispute resolved at the earliest opportunity,” Bitature revealed in a statement.
“As part of its business expansion plans, Simba approached vantage Capital in 2014, seeking an alternative to the more common and mainstream pure debt funding for business expansion. Consequently, a Mezzanine Term Facility Agreement (MFTA) was signed between vantage Mezzanine Fund 11 partnership (“Vantage”) and Simba Properties Investment Company (Simba) for $ 10000000 to fund projects within the group. These projects included the completion of protea by Marriott Skyz Hotel and working capital for our ElectroMaxx power subsidiary. The agreement had a three year Morotorium (freeze) for repayment of both principal and interest,” the statement reads in part.
No one had envisaged that Patrick Bitature, who was ranked among the top “five Ugandan Multi-millionaires by Forbes Magazine in 2012 would soon be engulfed by a dark cloud of being hugely indebted.
However, he attributes his wealth and success to fellow tycoon Sudhir, whom he has on several occasions applauded as a mentor and a friend.
Recently, he appeared in public video giving a motivational lecture to a number of graduates, in which he explained how his small business empire morphed into a large enterprise, after learning to master the courage of investing in real estate sector and property.
“He held my hand when I was going into property and I was scared,” says Bitature, adding that at the time, he had made some good money after investing in MTN Uganda but he had not expanded his business portfolio as it is today. He is quoted by PML daily news website.
He narrated that the relationship between the duo drifted to the next level, after Sudhir came to his financial rescue, leading to his purchase of ” three properties in the row” in Kyadondo ,a Kampala suburb.
Proposals to purchase the Kyadondo property were presented to him by Sudhir, during a wonderful luncheon at Speke Hotel, but inspite of all this, Bitature was skeptical enough to believe that all the business plans by his new friend was an attempt to set him up.
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