Uchumi-KAA tussle over multi billion property

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By Beth Nyaga

Uchumi Supermarkets has come out fighting over its multi-billion Lang’ata Hyper property along Langata Road saying it holds a valid title deed to it.

Uchumi Supermarkets had sought a buyer for the property to help it raise funds to refinance its operations and ease debts to suppliers.

But KAA also lodged a claim over the prime property saying the land on which the supermarket is built belongs to them.

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“It has come to the attention of Kenya Airports Authority that Uchumi Supermarkets, who purport to own the land, is trying to sell, lease or deal in one way or another with the parcel of land.

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“Any person entering into any agreement or arrangement, whether for sale, lease or otherwise with any person other than KAA does so at his own peril,” said a notice by KAA published in local dailies.

KAA says it will move to court to protect its property if Uchumi goes ahead with the intended sale.

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With the new development, Company Secretary John Wambugu said buyers will be given, “every opportunity to conduct independent due diligence on the property including inspecting the copy of the title deed to ascertain validity.”

“We have also contacted the National Land Commission who has confirmed in writing that the parcel of land belongs to Uchumi Supermarkets,” said Wambugu.

Uchumi Chief Executive Officer Julius Kipng’etich moved to reduce staff and close down non-performing branches to reduce debt and the wage burden.

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He also proceeded to target the sale of two branches to raise fresh capital for operations.

The retailer last month announced closure of its operations in Tanzania and Uganda in a drastic re-organisation it said is intended to stop financial bleeding.

In October, the company invited bids for the sale of the property alongside the 2.5 acre Ngong Hyper land in a sell-and-lease back deal as part of fundraising to improve its financial standing.

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