Aside Mrs. Olubukunola George, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of HealthPlus, the pharmaceutical retail chain; three names have rung more loudly in the attempted takeover of the company by its foreign equity partner, UK’s Alta Semper Capital.
They are Afsane Jetha and Zachary Fond, both directors of the equity firm; and Chidi Okoro, the pharmacist announced as Chief Transformation Officer (CTO) by Alta Semper.
Okoro may be the CTO, but sources disclosed that he has been unable to gain access into any of the company premises nor carry out his intended role. Instead, he has had to rely on Ernest Eguasa, an insider, who joined HealthPlus last December as Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
Eguasa, according to sources, was the preferred candidate of Alta Semper Capital. From his inception as CFO, it was clear Alta Semper had an agenda insisting on a dual reporting line to the CEO and to the PE firm, a clear anomaly according to PE experts.
Very unusually on 25 September, insiders revealed, Eguasa arrived the premises housing the office of the Managing Director, HealthPlus, at 6.47am accompanied by Chidi Okoro, the purported CTO.
Before that day, he never arrived at work early, chronicle.ng learnt. Minutes after arrival, an email was sent by Alta Semper Capital’s Zachary Fond, requesting a meeting with all heads of department.
At about 9.30am the same day, he was also said to have made an attempt to lead Fond, Ivan Genadiev and a middle-aged white man (suspected to be the MD of G4S, a security company based in Nigeria), into the company premises, but was refused entry because the security personnel said they could not allow people without prior appointment to enter the premises.
Angry at being turned back, Eguasa was said to have told the security men that they were refusing entry to the owner of the company.
His assumption was that the takeover was complete, following a letter of termination sent to George and another letter informing the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) of the leadership change in the company.
But the takeover bid, which can be best described as a gangster move was unsuccessful, with the HealthPlus management announcing that George remains in charge because the necessary conditions for leadership change, as contained in the terms of the equity partnership, were not met. These include a board resolution and approved minutes of the board meeting greenlighting the change of leadership. The indication is that no board meeting has been held in over eight months.
When asked why official communication originated from his personal email account, Eguasa was said to have claimed that he was unable to use his official email.
He followed the email up with a scheduled call that was to see him and Fond discuss with Upperlink how to bar George from accessing the payment platform used by HealthPlus for its financial settlements.
“There is no doubt that he has been working hand in hand with Alta Semper Capital to wrest control of HealthPlus from the Founder and CEO. There is very little doubt that he must have been enticed with promises, including shares in HealthPlus for him to be so committed to seeing George ousted,” a source said.