After months of protracted ownership crisis that led to the recent resignation of Mr. Goodie Ibru, its longstanding chairman, the management of the Securities & Exchange Commission [SEC], on Thursday evening announced the dissolution of the board of Ikeja Hotels Plc.
Ikeja Hotels is the parent company of Sheraton Hotels, Abuja.
Announcing the dissolution and appointment of capital market lawyer, Chief Anthony Idigbe as interim chairman, the commission in a statement said the “measure has become necessary in order not to allow the warring parties take certain actions that would give them an advantage over one another.”
Before now, the commission said it had held various meetings in company of some distinguished stakeholders, in a bid to forestall chaos in the company, with the members of the sacked board to resolve the thorny issues.
Instead of the envisaged improvements, it lamented however that the company continued “to be plagued with unhealthy Corporate Governance practices in disregard with the Code of Corporate Governance for public companies.
The commission noted for example, without giving specifics, “that as a public company, it is paramount that the activities of [Ikeja Hotels Plc] are conducted within the confines of existing corporate governance regulations in the Nigerian capital market, to ensure the protection of minority shareholders and other investors.”
The statement noted that following the failure of its various efforts to resolve the lingering crisis and restore peace to the company, “the Commission, in exercise of the powers conferred on it by the Investment and Securities Act, 2007 to protect investors and the integrity of the securities market, hereby approves the appointment of an interim Board for the company with Chief Anthony Idigbe, SAN as interim Chairman.”
The interim Board among others is mandated to oversee the conduct of a forensic investigation into the affairs of the company.
“It is the Commission’s expectation that the shareholders and key Management staff of the company will work with the new team to ensure that the fortunes of the company are restored in the shortest possible time” the statement added.
Ibru resigned in February in the overall interest of the company and the larger Ibru family, while ensuring that the Ikeja Hotels, which has been hampered by multiple law suits filed by shareholders in the contest for the management and control of the company, and the need to get Ikeja Hotels to perform optimally.
He stated that the decision of Justice Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on December 21, 2016, confirming him chairman vindicates his struggle for corporate governance in the company and provides right timing for him to retire as founding chairman after 32 years in office.
He urged the younger generation of Ibrus to work with other shareholders to continue to carry on the torch of excellence for which Ikeja Hotels has been known, lamenting that the Ibru family has gone through a tough phase in the recent past and as the only surviving son of the first generation of Ibrus, he is more committed to working with his sisters on keeping the family united.
Ibru, 75, founded Ikeja Hotels Plc in 1975 and opened its flagship property, the Lagos Sheraton Hotel and Towers, in 1985. The company acquired in 1992 the Tourist Company of Nigeria Plc, the holding company of the Federal Palace Hotel and Casino.
Also under Mr. Ibru’s leadership, the group acquired Capital Hotels Plc, the owner of the Abuja Sheraton Hotels and Towers.