Healthplus Founder Sacks CEO, Others, Moves to Take over

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By Dike Onwuamaeze

The Founder of the Health Plus Limited (HPL), Mrs. Bukky George, has ordered the Chief Transformation Officer (CTO) of the HPL, Mr. Chidi Okoro and other agents of the Alta Semper, a foreign investor in the HPL, to quit from running the affairs of the company.

The quit notice was contained in memo titled ‘Important- Update on HealthPlus Limited,” and dated March 3, 2021,which was issued and signed by George, in her capacity as the chief executive officer (CEO) of the HPL, and addressed to “our esteemed stakeholders.”

George explained that the memo was necessitated by the recent withdrawal of the “No-Objection/Waiver,” by the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) that enabled the Alta Semper/Idi Holdings to invest in the HPL in 2018.

The memo reads: “The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), the regulator of pharmacists and pharmaceutical businesses, has by a letter dated February 23, 2021, withdrawn its earlier “No-Objection/Waiver,” which facilitated the investment by Alta Semper/Idi Holdings into the Health Plus Limited.

“In the circumstances, Alta Semper and their agents (Chidi Okoro and co) are not authorised by law to manage retail pharmacy business in Nigeria. It has, therefore, become imperative for the parties to meet and agree on the terms for Alta Semper/Idi Holdings’ divestment from Health Plus Limited. We look forward to commencing negotiations.

“In the meantime, I am taking steps to regain operational control following which stakeholder engagements and the restoration of Health Plus and CasaBella will start.”

It should be recalled that an investment of $18 million by Alta Semper/Idi Holdings into the HPL has been mired in controversy, leading to the termination of George’s appointment as the CEO of the HPL by the new investors who appointed Okoro as the CTO of the HPL on September 25, 2020.

But George went to the court to challenge these decisions.

It was alleged that majority of the board of the HPL on Friday, September 25, 2020, issued an instruction terminating the appointment of George as the company’s CEO and asked Okoro to provide interim leadership for the company as its new CTO.

George, however, disclosed during a press conference that was hosted by the Business Founder Coalition (BFC), in September 2020, that she brought the private equity firm into the operation of the HPL to enable the company to meet the demand for high quality yet affordable healthcare and beauty supplies.

“Unfortunately, the pledged funds were never fully disbursed in order to implement our strategic objectives.

“Our partnership has been fraught with serious challenges and unmet expectations, jeopardising operations and relationships with our stakeholders,” George lamented.

The African Private and Venture Capital Association observed in 2018 that the investment from the Alta Semper would enable the HPL to continue “to expand its store footprint, allowing the company to continue to invest in market-leading human talent, and develop regional distribution centres in commercial hubs across Nigeria as well as selectively explore private label and e-commerce initiatives.

“Mrs. Bukky George will remain as the CEO of the HPL to steward the business through its next phase of growth and development.”