Toke Ibru, Thomopulus, others confirmed new directors of Ikeja Hotel

Chairman, Board of Directors, Ikeja Hotel Plc, Anthony Idigbe, SAN, (left); Company Secretary, Oluwabunmi Apata; director, Abacha Bulama; director, Toke Alex Ibru and director, Dr. Alexander Thomopulus at the 40th annual general meeting in Lagos …yesterday. PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN

• Shareholders link non-dividend payment to poor corporate governance
• Urge new board to focus on investors’ interest

Shareholders of Ikeja Hotel Plc, yesterday blamed the former management of the company for the inability to pay dividend over the years.

They spoke at the company’s 40th Annual General Meeting (AGM), which was the first to hold in many years.

The shareholders decried the high level of lapses in the company’s corporate governance and mismanagement which led to the current predicament.

Noting that such actions were a disincentive to investment, they urged the new board to restore the company to profitability.

The hotel’s revenue increased from N5.02 billion in 2015 to N5.46 billion in 2016, while profit after tax dropped by 16.84 per cent to N90.95million from N109 .37 recorded in the corresponding period in 2015.

The shareholders also unanimously confirmed the appointment of the Executive Director of Guardian Newspapers Limited, Toke Alex-Ibru as a director of the hotel.

The Publisher of The Guardian, Maiden Alex-Ibru was also present at the meeting. Other new directors whose appointments were confirmed by the shareholders at the meeting were Dr. Alexander A. Thomopulus, Mr. Kunle Aluko, Alhaji Abatcha Bulama, Mr. Ufuoma Ibru, Waheed Olagunju and Mrs. Fadeke Alamutu.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had on May 4, announced the dissolution of the Board of Ikeja Hotels Plc due to an unresolved internal crisis involving some majority shareholders.

The commission, in a statement, said the dissolution was a proactive measure that became necessary to dissuade the warring parties from taking certain actions that would give them advantage.

It dissolved the board and appointed Chief Anthony Idigbe as interim chairman. The new chairman admitted that high standard of corporate governance were fundamental to the sustainability of business.

He pledged the new board’s commitment to ensuring that each director continues to make valuable contributions to the growth of the business.

He disclosed that the board had approved a number of corporate governance policies, with measures put in place to ensure strict adherence.

The commission’s statement said the interim board, among others, was mandated to oversee the conduct of a forensic investigation into the affairs of the hotel.

The Ikeja Hotels Plc, also owners of the Sheraton Lagos Hotel, had been involved in boardroom crisis. The development led to the removal of its Chairman, Goodie Ibru, in 2015 at an extra-ordinary general meeting.

The National Coordinator, Progressive Shareholders Association, Boniface Okezie, noted that the business of the company was left solely in the hands of the former chairman, who assumed the position of an executive director, and managed the affairs of the hotel single-handedly.

“When you have a chairman as chief executive, you have a problem because it means that a free hand is not given to the management to run the company. And when you are a chairman, you are supposed to preside over the board and that should end there. The board directs the affairs to oversee what the management is doing, checkmate the excesses on the management’s side and give corrections where necessary.”

“But unfortunately, the chairman at that time, assumed the position of an executive chairman, so there was a conflict of interest. When you award a contract, does it go through tender by the board? So it was lopsided, the chairman had every service provided being run by him; and that is not the way to run a company.”

He continued: “The hotel has been deteriorating over the years, and you begin to ask questions about the internally generated revenue, or were they not making money? What were those monies used for? Were they diverted? This is because if they were not raising from capital market and the shareholders were not bringing money, then money was being generated, they should be able to take care of the needful to put the hotel in proper shape and drive the business.”

Okezie charged the present board to be are alive to their responsibilities and ensure that: “Every money generated is accounted for, and at the end of the day, the profit generated is ploughed back to renovate the hotel and put it in proper shape to grow earnings. This would translate into sharing profit.”

He added: “The new management must be given a free hand to run the business with good corporate governance, which was lacking in the past. The new board constituted by SEC must bury the hatchet, and work in the interest of the shareholders in order to reposition the hotel for growth.”

The former Secretary General, Independent Shareholders Association, Adebayo Adeleke, also urged the new board to operate with a high level of corporate governance and avoid the mistakes of the past.

“We must embrace transparency, shun the spirit of the winner takes all, as that was what landed us where we find ourselves today. The board must work together in the interest of the business and also think about the shareholders, who have been loyal to the company over the years.

This was supported by another shareholder, Mrs Olatunde Obideyi, who said: “The former management did not have the interest of the shareholders at heart.”



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