Most billionaires come in for a lot of —often justified—criticism, but there are some out there who are doing their best to break the mold. From being socially responsible to giving generously or mentoring start-up entrepreneurs, some of these uber-wealthy do not see being rich to mean being bad. Thus they open their wings for others to fly. One of these few is the billionaire tech entrepreneur, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh. While the highly cerebral Zinox Group Chairman understands that some persons could have been in a situation in their lives when they did something good but got something unpleasant in return, Ekeh has nonetheless continued to be a boon to so many start-ups who have enjoyed his mentorship and support them to grow —and he hasn’t stopped till date. But this Imo State-born suave billionaire has been flummoxed over the recent news making the rounds that he is allegedly the man behind the crisis provoking the forceful takeover bid of the troubled Nigerian healthcare firm, HealthPlus by its foreign investors, Alta Semper Capital, a United Kingdom-based private equity firm. The rumours come amid a well-publicised management tussle over the soul of HealthPlus brand. And with the attendant frenzy of social media controversies, Ekeh has had to battle a flurry of insinuations and barrage of vicious narratives.
Spotlight gathered that when the news first broke, Ekeh did not give it much thought and dismissed it as one of those social media noises. But a few clips of the news sent to him by friends —who know Ekeh as a nifty but not an inconsiderate, brute investor— got him astonished and he’s jolted to reaction.
Sources close to Ekeh said the relationship between Mrs. Bukky George, the embattled Founder and CEO of HealthPlus, and Ekeh started 31 March 2020 when she first reached out to the billionaire to mentor her. During their first conversation —via telephone— the billionaire had advised Mrs. George to settle the misunderstanding with her investors —Alta Semper— in order to save her business and to avoid damaging the growing investor confidence in Nigerian startups. That’s where the trouble first started.
As a matter of factly, Ekeh had known Alta Semper long before he met George. The private equity firm had approached Konga —one of Ekeh’s companies— for a partnership and possible investment in 2019, ever before George approached Ekeh for mentorship and a subsequent loan. That’s all. But Ekeh was said to have felt highly embarrassed when he later learnt that George had written a private letter to former President Olusegun Obasanjo —who as President honoured Ekeh as an Icon of Hope and pride to modern Nigeria on the country’s independence anniversary on 1 October 2001— alleging Ekeh was involved in a planned takeover of her business. The billionaire was particularly said not to be bothered much that George had circulated to the press before the former President even saw the letter but he’s deeply saddened by some of the potentially libelous allegations made by George and believes that she has been very unfair to someone who had only meant well for her. “I have the highest regards for Mrs. Bukky George. I see her till tomorrow as a miracle child like myself. She is extremely brilliant with great energy and passion to succeed in her sector and there are few such women in Africa and my wife is one of them, so it will be spiritually wrong for me to be against her,” Ekeh said. To clear the air and allay George’s fear, Ekeh has insisted that he has neither single investment in Alta Semper nor interest in taking over HealthPlus chain. Apart from being a giant in innovation and technology, Ekeh is also an astute businessman with decades of successes under his belt. Since the 64-year-old Ekeh started out as a businessman with a record of incisive entrepreneurship, he has continued to make many of his competitors green with envy. Considering his chain of businesses, which includes e-commerce, ICT with offices in major cities like Lagos, Dubai, Paris, London and New York City, it is evident that he enjoys uncommon grace. For this and more, the consummate businessman, who obviously has democratised technology for ordinary people, has never hidden the fact that he will not abuse such amazing grace of God in his life.