Ezra offers $30m for Namboole Stadium
By Daniel K. Kalinaki
June 2, 2004

KAMPALA- Michael Ezra has offered $ 30 million to buy Namboole Stadium. The businessman and sports philanthropist wrote to the Privatisation Unit last month and offered to pay the money - in cash - for the stadium, which is being prepared for divestiture.

“I cannot comment on that,” Mr Ezra said when The Monitor contacted him yesterday. However, The Monitor has learnt that the written offer was made to the PU last month.

The Privatisation Unit spokesman, Jim Mugunga, could neither confirm nor deny Ezra’s bid for the 40,000-seat stadium yesterday.

“It’s true we are preparing Namboole for divestiture,” Mr Mugunga said by telephone,” but the preparation is structured according to the PERD [Public Enterprises Reform and Divestiture] Statute.”

“We are working towards a concession which means that the assets may be leased to a reputable firm with a proven track record for an agreed period of time after which the facility and any improvements thereof revert to government.

“It is not the first time we are doing it; we did it for Nile Hotel, even Uganda Electricity Generation Company and Uganda Electricity Distribution Company were all divested by way of concession,” Mugunga said.

He said the process of divesting Namboole is ongoing and PU has contracted a reputable international concession firm to assist in the preparation of the divestiture.

“When time comes, after the necessary documentation and preparation has been done, this offer, and any other that will come through the tender process will be subjected to the competitive measures and structure of concession,” Mugunga said.

The Monitor has separately learnt that the international audit firm, PriceWaterHouseCoopers was contracted to prepare Namboole for divestiture.

This is the second big-bucks bid Ezra has made in the last six months. In February, Ezra offered 60 million pounds to buy the English football club Leeds United but later withdrew the offer claiming he had disagreed with the club on the composition of a new board.

On April 21, he announced a Shs 1 billion grant to the Uganda Sports Press Association to cover its activities for two years. Namboole is officially called Mandela National Stadium in honour of the former South African president who laid its foundation stone on July 7, 1990.

The stadium, which cost $34 million, was built with a grant from the Chinese government and officially opened on January 26, 1999.

© 2004 The Monitor Publications

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