Libyans say ready to surrender Grand Regency

July 29, 2008

, NAIROBI, July 29 – The new owners of Grand Regency Hotel, Libya Africa Investment Portfolio (LAP), said Tuesday that they were willing to relinquish the property, if it was proven that any law had been flouted in the sale.

A top Libyan government official insisted at a press conference at the hotel that the acquisition of the hotel was above board, exuding confidence that they would retain ownership after investigations are complete.

LAP Chairman Bashir Saleh Bashir however said that the group would surrender the hotel if any irregularities were found in the sale process.

“Everybody respects the law and nobody is above it. We will have to comply,” Bashir assured.

The Chairman, who is also Libya’s Head of Public Service, confirmed that the group had paid $45 million (about Sh2.9 billion) for the hotel, and insisted that the transaction was purely of a business nature with no political bearings.

However, the Libyan government’s investment arm maintained that it was undeterred in pursuing other interests in the country.
Bashir revealed to journalists that they would still push ahead with negotiations for a stake in the Kenya Pipeline Company.
“Kenya Pipeline is considered to be one of the most strategic investments for us because it connects Kenya to other countries in the East African region. We have not finalised on shareholding but we are in discussions, which should be completed very soon,” he said.

The chairman was also emphatic that LAP is an investment group, purely interested in setting up businesses across Africa for purposes of development.

“There is nothing unique in us investing in Kenya; we have invested in South Africa and Mauritius, among other African countries.”

“Just recently the fund invested $1 billion in Mauritius in the mining of phosphate, it was no big deal,” Bashir intimated.

The Grand Regency sale is the subject of a Presidential Commission of Inquiry as well as an investigation by the Parliamentary Finance and Trade Committee.

The House Committee, chaired by Nambale MP Chris Okemo, has already questioned the Central Bank Governor Njuguna Ndung\’u and former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya, who resigned from office to pave way for a probe into the sale.

Okemo’s Committee is due to report back to MPs on the findings of their interrogations anytime next week.

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