Umubano Hotel under review ahead of sale

A top international audit firm has been awarded the tender to evaluate the financial worth of Umubano Hotel as government moves to re-sell it, a senior member on the hotel board has said.Speaking to The New Times, yesterday, Rosemary Mbabazi, the chairperson of the Board of the Directors of Soprotel Sarl, a government company that manages the hotel, said that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was set to undertake the evaluation exercise next week.
Umubano Hotel will soon be up for sale once again. The New Times / File
Umubano Hotel will soon be up for sale once again. The New Times / File

A top international audit firm has been awarded the tender to evaluate the financial worth of Umubano Hotel as government moves to re-sell it, a senior member on the hotel board has said.

Speaking to The New Times, yesterday, Rosemary Mbabazi, the chairperson of the Board of the Directors of Soprotel Sarl, a government company that manages the hotel, said that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was set to undertake the evaluation exercise next week.

“We advertised seeking for the competent firm to evaluate the business value of the hotel and among the many companies that applied, PWC emerged successful,” she said.

The hotel is co-owned and managed by the Libyan Government-affiliated Laico Group.

The evaluation exercise will last for a month. Mbabazi, who is currently the caretaker manager of the Kacyiru-based facility, said.

“We are also looking for a company that will buy 100 percent shares of the hotel and that company must be experienced in the hotel industry with a clear and strong investment plan that will bring something new in the market,” she explained.

“The company should be in position to renovate the hotel because it is in a poor condition.”

Mbabazi said that the tendering process for the buyer will take place between October and December this year.

The Libyan government owns 60 percent of the hotel’s shares.

Asked whether the move was not in breach of the contract with Laico Group, Mbabazi pointed out that the commercial law stipulates that, in the absence of one shareholder, the other shareholder, on the ground, may take decisions in the interest of the company.

“We are not grabbing the hotel from the Libyans...we had several board meetings with the Libyans before the (recent political) unrest in their country and they promised to inject more money in the hotel and to renovate which they never did,” she disclosed.

“This is the only hotel that is outdated and the Libyans know it. We told them in the meeting that it was unacceptable to continue operating the hotel without refurbishing it.

“We also advised to put the government’s 40 percent shares on the market so that Rwandans can buy those shares and restore the hotel, a decision they rejected saying they will renovate it themselves, but, at the end, did nothing.”

She also said that the Libyans had pledged to inject US$3.5 million towards the renovation of the hotel, but reneged on the promise.

Mbabazi stated that the proceeds from the sale of the hotel will be deposited in a special account at the National Bank of Rwanda, until the Libyan situation normalises, so that the Laico Group could reclaim its funds.

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