On Monday, 5 November 2018, the Daily Monitor run a story claiming that Nile River Acquisition Company, the one that bought the Cooperative Bank’s loans from Bank of Uganda (BoU) could not be traced. However, the Cooperator magazine has uncovered information that points to the fact that the company was owned by Octavian Advisors, a Hedge Fund that closed over 6 years ago, in 2012.
According to the Auditor General’s report on BoU’s closure of Banks, Nile River Acquisition Company Limited offered to buy the loan portfolio of 3 banks; International Credit Bank Limited (1998), Greenland Bank (1991), and The Cooperative Bank (1999) at 10 million dollars. The portfolio was worth UGX 135 billion, and included UGX 34 billion worth of secured loans. In his report, the Auditor General questions the decision to sell secured loans to Nile River Acquisition Company.
The Auditor General, Mr. John Muwanga noted that the company got the bank loans at a 93% discount. Defending its decision, Bank of Uganda’s Director of Communication Ms. Charity Mugumya told the Daily Monitor newspaper that Nile River was buying a portfolio which would be difficult to recover and it was against this basis that it got it at that rate.
Who owns Nile River Acquisition Company?
The Auditor General, in his report notes that JN Kirkland & Associates, the Bank’s consultants at the time, evaluated the remaining assets of the closed banks and identified a suitable firm, M/s Octavian Advisors, LP which expressed interest to purchase these assets at USD 10 million from BoU. Following further negotiations with BoU, Ms. Octavian Advisors, LP registered Nile River Acquisition Company in order to transact with BoU. Information available to the Cooperator reveals that the company was incorporated in Mauritius.
However, a Reuters article reveals that Octavian shut down over 6 years ago, and Richard Hurowitz the firm’s CEO is quoted in the article, telling his firm’s investors by letter that they would be refunded.
The company did not register in Uganda after incorporating in Mauritius and the Uganda Registration Services Bureau had no knowledge of its existence.