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Reprieve for Nakumatt after court bars landlord

Nakumatt managing director Atul Shah. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Nakumatt managing director Atul Shah. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Retail chain Nakumatt on Monday got temporary relief after the High Court blocked yet another attempt by a landlord to attach its property in order to offset rent arrears.

High Park Mall, which is located in Nairobi’s Parklands area, was Monday stopped on its tracks after the court granted the supermarket’s prayer for orders against a planned seizure and auction of its goods to recover Sh8.829 million in rent arrears.

High Park Investments Limited is the third mall owner to attempt attaching Nakumatt’s goods to recover unpaid rent, following a similar move by Roysambu-based Thika Road Mall and Integer Limited on Uhuru Highway, which hosts Nakumatt Mega.

Thika Road Mall is seeking to recover Sh51 million in rent arrears while Integer’s debt stands at Sh23 million. The mall owners’ rent recovery attempts have further compounded Nakumatt’s troubles with creditors it owes billions of shillings.

Nakumatt told Justice Olga Sewe that it has been holding talks to reach an out-of-court settlement with TRM and Integer and termed High Park Mall’s action as illegal because the retail chain was already facing two separate insolvency petitions.

Under Kenyan law any property belonging to a company or individual facing insolvency proceedings in court is protected from attachment for purposes of recovering debt. High Park had listed several goods it wanted to attach and auction from Nakumatt Highridge.

“On August 5, 2017 Galaxy Auctioneers moved to Nakumatt’s business premises and proclaimed Nakumatt’s goods in line with High Park Investments and High Port Properties’ instructions. If the proclaimed goods are attached and sold, Nakumatt’s efforts to restructure and refinance its business will be frustrated,” Nakumatt managing director Atul Shah says in suit papers.

“Liquidation proceedings have been commenced against Nakumatt, and the proclamations and intended attachment are unlawful as they violate the Insolvency Act, which expressly prohibit any attachment, sequestration, distress or execution instigated against the assets of the company after commencement of liquidation,” Mr Shah adds.

The order has also barred another firm—Highport Properties—from taking the attachment route to recover Sh5 million rent arrears from Nakumatt, which leases godowns from the real estate firm.

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