Kenya: How Naivas Won in Scramble for Nakumatt's Prime Assets

After Nakumatt Holdings Limited went under in 2017, the man tasked with winding it up set out to make as much money from offloading the shell to ease the misery of hundreds of creditors owed at least Sh18 billion.

Recent court filings by Nakumatt's administrator Peter Obondo Kahi have revealed how the corporate mortician received a Sh50 million loan -- as part of Sh650 million bailout -- from Tuskys in a failed revival bid, before selling assets worth Sh422 million to another rival retailer, Naivas.

Mr Kahi has asked the Milimani High Court to extend his term as Nakumatt liquidator to allow the conclusion of at least 16 court cases that may go the retailer's way and rake in more billions.

The Sh5.1 billion revenue may, however, appear impressive for a dead company with few assets to its name.

Nakumatt collapsed while owing at least Sh18 billion to landlords, banks, suppliers and other institutions that helped it grow into the biggest retailer in East and Central Africa by revenue and branch presence.

A good number of those creditors are likely to go home empty-handed after decades of standing by Nakumatt's business.

Reduce debt

Mr Kahi was appointed Nakumatt administrator in 2018. After months of push and pull between the retailer and its creditors, the court allowed Mr Kahi to wind up Nakumatt and salvage any funds that could be used to reduce its debt.

Read: Why supermarkets in Kenya are collapsing one-by-one like flies

Court filings indicate that one of Mr Kahi's key objectives was to auction assets that Nakumatt had to its name and had neither been eyed by creditors nor had their ownership contested. These included furniture, computers, cabinets, shelves and a few other items.

Mr Kahi hired Tysons Limited to value these assets, and then engaged Dyer & Blair as the fallen retailer's transaction advisers.

As at October 17, 2019, Nakumatt had furniture, fittings and fixtures valued at Sh110 million. The assets, however, had a forced sale value of Sh77 million. They were spread across Nakumatt branches at Prestige, Lavington, Highridge and Mega in Nairobi. Other assets were in Nakuru and Kisumu.

Dyer & Blair advertised for the sale of the shell that was Nakumatt on various dates between October and November, 2019.

Read: Nakumatt collapses after creditors vote for liquidation

Tuskys, Chandarana, Quickmart and Naivas all threw in bids for different assets.

Naivas and Chandarana were the only two firms that submitted bids to acquire all assets on sale, at Sh422 million and Sh246 million respectively.

Tuskys only wanted the assets in Prestige, Lavington and Nakuru, hence it submitted a collective bid of Sh70 million.

Quickmart eyed the Nakuru assets, and it bid Sh160 million.

Mr Kahi held that the best bet was to sell everything to Naivas for Sh422 million. "With this robust, transparent and competitive process, and upon receiving approvals from the Competition Authority of Kenya on December 18, 2019, the assets, largely furniture, fixtures and fittings (mostly shelving) of Nakumatt Holdings Limited, have been sold to Naivas. No inventory/stock is included in this transaction," Mr Kahi says in the report filed in court.

Debt collections and sale of vehicles and some stock left at the six Nakumatt branches fetched another Sh4.725 billion for the collapsed retailer.

Mr Kahi also received a Sh50 million loan from Tuskys in the course of his administration duties.

The payment was to be part of a Sh650 million funds injection from Tuskys that would see Nakumatt restock its shelves and start walking along the road to recovery.

Tuskys had entered into an arrangement with Nakumatt, where the former signed on as a guarantor for the latter's rent dues to landlords.

The guarantee had seen Nakumatt strike deals with some suppliers to put their products on the retailer's shelves following the Tuskys deal.

On March 7, 2018, the owners of City Mall in Nyali had enough of hosting Nakumatt, which owed rent dating back several months.

The owners forcefully ejected Nakumatt, and some Nyali residents saw this as an opportunity to loot items that were being removed from the premises.

Mr Kahi has not given the value of goods looted during the eviction.

After the Nyali incident, Tuskys realised it was entering a dangerous zone with the rental guarantee deal and decided to back out of it.

Insolvency petitions

Interestingly, Tuskys is now in an almost similarly difficult situation as it fights off attempts by creditors to wind up its operation over debts in excess of Sh6.2 billion.

The documents Mr Kahi has filed in court show the loan from Tuskys is yet to be repaid, with the retailer having only Sh41 million to its name.

Mr Kahi's report also reveals that Nakumatt has managed to pay Sh788 million to landlords across the country.

Just months after Gold Crown Beverages and African Cotton Industries filed insolvency petitions against Nakumatt, 19 landlords joined the suits claiming Sh600 million.

In its prime, Nakumatt had over 60 branches and the rent defaults had come close to Sh1 billion.

Mr Kahi believes that 16 court cases that Nakumatt has been fighting since 2012 could go the retailer's way.

Eight of the cases involve rental dues Nakumatt owes to Ideal Locations Limited, Nova Holdings, Acuity Limited, Sabaki River Holdings and South Coast Holdings. Half of these cases are between Nakumatt and Ideal Locations, two of which are before the Supreme Court.

Three other cases are over land disputes. One case involves the sale of a piece of land owned by Nakumatt CEO Atul Shah's son, Harsha, and which had been used as security for a loan from Kenya Commercial Bank to Nakumatt.

The other two land disputes pit companies owned by Mr Shah, Parkview Shopping Arcade and Collogne Investments, against UBA bank and KCB respectively.

Two of the cases pit Nakumatt against the Kenya Revenue Authority, which is claiming a total of Sh2.3 billion in unpaid levies.

Another case has seen Kenindia challenge Nakumatt's bid to have the insurer pay a lender.

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