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Diamond Bank gets respite over N5.5bn Yacht boat facility


News » Business
Lagos

Image: Sunborn Yaght

 

April 6 2012

 

Respite may be coming the way of Diamond Bank Plc as a £22 million (N5.5 billion) facility tied down for the past four years will soon become active and serviceable, BusinessDay investigations have revealed.

The amount was used to finance the importation of the ‘Sunborn Yacht’, a large pleasure boat, from London in 2008 through Diamond Capital. The yacht would have served as a four-star hotel but had been bedeviled by controversies in court, leading to its’ rusting away at the quays, by the Army Officers’ Mess at Marina, Lagos.

The four-star hotel, originally owned by the City of London, was conceptualised as a leisure business, to service the higher echelon of Lagos society. But the unfortunate leisure ship has been home to strange sea birds, rather than the targeted high profile guests from whom the investors had hoped to rake in millions of naira to service the facility.

The contenders in the business squabble over the yacht, were Diamond Capital Limited, the project financier; Multipurpose Infrastructural Development Corporation (MIDC), facilitator of the project and Westcom Limited, a capital advisory firm.

Industry watchers have put losses occasioned by the controversies which have grounded the Sunborn Yacht- the supposed first African “luxury hotel on water” at over N7 billion, going by an estimated daily average income of about N5 million,  had it been operational.

Boniface Anibuogu, a tour operator and events manager, said going by its exclusive leisure offering, an average yacht makes more profit a day, than an average boutique hotel  (between N1 and N2 million per day). With the exclusivity of its location on the Marina, overlooking the wharf and the Lagos coastline , Anibuogu estimated the floating hotel would have made close to N5 million profit daily.

“If Sunborn Yacht Hotel had been operational since 2008 when it was acquired, it would have raked in over N3 billion profit, besides the employment opportunities because yacht hotels are very exclusive and expensive in pricing. You can get a bottle of beer for as high as N2000, a meal for N8,000 and the least room at about N50,0 00. So that huge revenue is already lost”, Anibuogu lamented.

Bode Alimi, a Nigerian expatriate, said before the acquisition, guests payed between £30 and £70 for a meal or drink on the yacht, and projects that  status conscious Nigerians would make the yacht their second home, no matter the cost. “It is just for the very big boys, you don’t get near the yacht if you are not big because a whole lot of things that support reckless spending are there”.

However, hope seems to be rising and expectations are high for the bank in particular and other stakeholders, as the controversies that have dragged on for more than four years, appear to be fizzling out, paving the way for a possible commencement of  business for the floating hotel.
Akpo Daniyan, head corporate communications, Diamond Bank, told BusinessDay that the issues have been amicably resolved and that the bank has agreed to sell the ship to MIDC, the facilitator of the project.

Daniyan would not entertain further enquiries on the deal, particularly, on how much the bank has lost and the effect on its balance sheet, and whether the asking price would offset the losses accrued so far.

“I will not go further, but can only tell you that the issues have been amicably resolved and the bank has agreed to sell the ship to MIDC,” she said.

Corroborating this, Tokunbo Afikuyomi, a former commissioner for Tourism and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Lagos State, in whose tenure the  ship  was acquired and who was sued in the cases, as witness of the deal, told BusinessDay that the disagreeing parties were resolving their differences. Afukuyomi expressed optimism that the yatch would soon begin to serve the commercial purpose for which it was acquired, as final sales agreement to MIDC by Diamond Capital was reached on January 24, 2012.

“The final settlement and the new spirit to resolve and move forward by both Diamond Capital and MIDC is commendable. We are looking forward to a day of commissioning of the yacht because it provides critical tourism asset to Lagos State tourism and infrastructure development”, Afikuyomi, a former senator, said.

He also cleared the air on the involvement of Lagos State government, saying the state had no stake in the acquisition of the yacht but only participated by providing the enabling environment (the quay in Marina) because of the economic benefits the yacht can bring to the state when operational, adding, “Government’s position still remains to offer the Sunborn Yacht facility to operate.”

Also, an executive of Diamond Capital, who witnessed the various discussions which led to the resolution by all the parties, said the floating hotel would soon cease to be an eyesore on the Lagos Marina.

“Such controversies are normal. You need to iron things out because money is involved. As the boat commences operation, money will start flowing in, people will be employed, leisure seekers will experience quality offerings and everybody will be happy”, he assured.

Analysts expected that the Sunborn Yacht will have to undergo maintenance, most likely at Nigerdock, before opening its doors to the public this year.

 

 

Article credit: BusinessDay Newspaper

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Updated 7 Years ago
 

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