Cumberland Hotel Has New Owner

| April 9, 2015

Cumberland Hotel, Lobatse’s earliest and most historic hotel, has a new owner following an auction that ook place recently.

During the sale, the hotel business moguls, the Puskas family, put the highest bid at P14 million beating five other buyers.

The auctioneer opened the bids at P8 million and concluded at P14 million as Mr Ivica Puskas was the last person to raise his hand to the bid before the hammer went down to hit the table to signal the end of the auction.

The hitherto Botswana Development Corporation’s building will be owned by the Puskas family, who also operate Rest Inn Lodges in Lobatse, The Big Five Lodge in Mogoditshane, and the Majestic Five Hotel in Palapye.

The building, which has appendages of a gaming house (casino), a Liquarama bottle store, and a restaurant, among others, has been operated by the Cumberland Hotel Company under the directorship of Mr Darren Clark.

After the auction, SFB Auctioneer, Mr Adam Van Aswege, said in an interview that he was greatly satisfied with the outcome of the auction. “We worked hard and prepared well for the auction and we believe the result is evident of that”, Mr Van Aswegen said.

He highlighted that they were always aware that the sale of the property would be a challenge as the property market in Lobatse was not as vibrant as the property market in Gaborone and other major cities and towns in Botswana due to the low population and a comparatively low level of business activity.

Furthermore, he said as auctioneers, they were selling a unique ‘product’, which was a hotel property that was only suitable for its intended use therefore limiting the options from an investor’s point-of-view.

In tackling this challenge, Mr Van Aswegen said he prepared well, adding that he believed that they gave the property the best chance of selling at the best possible price.

He said the property was extensively aertised and marketed over a five week period leading up to the auction, including the local newspapers, public listed property companies, existing hotel owners, and investors who have the ability to participate at this level.

Now that the auction had been done, the property was still currently leased to Cumberland Hotel, as such the new owner is expected to honour the laid down terms and conditions of the lease before taking occupation of the property.

It was still unclear as to whether the new holder would like occupy and run the property or allow the Cumberland Hotel to continue operating from it as tenants Mr Puskas was not certain what would happen after April 30 when the old lease comes to an end.

However, Cumberland Hotel Director Mr Clarke said he was not happy with the outcome of the auction at all because his attempts to announce during the auction that that some of the assets being auctioned did not belong to BDC but Cumberland Hotel were ignored.

“I just did not understand how I was meant to bid for my own assets,” he asked, adding that such issues were brought to the attention of the BDC but with no acceptable resolution.

He said though BDC wrote to Cumberland Hotel stating categorically that they would not sell what did not belong to them, he was shocked when they went ahead to sell what did not belong to them.

“As we have been tenants for 20 years, we would have expected to be treated with a little more dignity. As a BDC project I would have thought that they would be interested in trying to offer us some protection to ensure continuity,” he said.

He argued that BDC used their assets and business to maximize the value of their building, and as such they should be entitled to a share of the auction price.

He however said, he was expecting to be in talks with the new owner of the building for a way forward.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Business & Finance

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