Libyan owned companies face uncertain future in Uganda


UGANDA (eTN) – Concerns are growing among management and staff of Libyan-owned companies like LAICO Hotels and Uganda Telecom about their future and their biggest shareholder’s ability to inject further capital into the companies for expansion, modernization, and system upgrades.

LAICO Hotels for instance owns the Lake Victoria Hotel in Entebbe, and also the prestigious Grand Regency Hotel in Nairobi, which is located along the Uhuru Highway and was in the negative headlines for weeks on end when it was sold at an alleged throw-away price to Gadaffi’s Libya in turn for a range of considerations. Another major hotel in the region is their Umumbano Hotel in Kigali.

All these properties, while formally owned by LAICO Hotels, were always presented to the public, and many of the staff support this notion, as “Gadaffi’s properties” and the current standing of this owner – considering all the global sanctions, frozen bank accounts, and even asset freezes – are making staff sentiments run riot, with rumors abounding over the future of these hotels.

It is understood that operations have at this stage not been affected, but should the global freeze of Gadaffi’s controlled companies be extended to include these hotels, it could have a series of rather negative consequences, both in the legal sense, as well as for the financial side of the companies.

It is no wonder, therefore, that management and staff of these companies are monitoring the developments in Libya with growing concern, wondering how safe their own, especially senior positions, are; if their salaries are being paid at the end of the month and the months to come; and who will be in charge in the future as at least some board member positions are held by Gadaffi cronies who may find themselves being embargoed as much of the dictator’s inner circle now has their assets frozen abroad and travel bans imposed on them.

Libya, or should one say, Gadaffi, has become a major investor in East Africa over recent years, where opportunities were snapped up regularly, often without competitive bidding, more as a political favor – something which most likely is now no longer the case and more and more of his friends are turning their back on him, just as they would when the proverbial tycoon goes broke.

It is understood that the UN is putting a panel together to oversee the freeze of assets, of bank accounts operated by Gadaffi’s family and cronies, and whom to extend travel bans to, making it a period of anxiety for all those working for such companies, in Africa and around the world, until the positions of such firms have been clarified by a sanction committee.