Silverbird building being written by AMCON official
Nigerian media, entertainment and real estate firm the Silverbird Group has been shut, its founder and owner confirmed on Thursday, amid reports it defaulted on $38 million in debts.
Silverbird Television and its sister radio station Rhythm 93.7 FM have been off air since early Thursday while its cinema galleries and shopping malls it operated in Lagos and Abuja were also closed.
The action was reportedly taken by the state-run Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), which deals in the recovery of bad debts.
AMCON were not immediately available for comment when contacted by AFP but the Premium Times news website said possession of the group’s properties were taken following a court order.
Group companies defaulted on repayment of debts of 11 billion naira ($38 million, 34 million euros), the publication added.
Bola Salako, of the Silverbird Communications division, told AFP: “We have some issues which we are addressing. I can assure you that we will soon be back on air.
” Group founder and chairman Ben Murray-Bruce then wrote on his Facebook page and Twitter account: “I have been on an international flight and have only just landed.
“The situation is being resolved and things will be back to normal,” he added, saying that all companies face challenges.
“Tough times don’t last. But we, as tough people, outlast them,” he wrote.
Businesses in Nigeria have been hit hard by the global fall in oil prices since mid-2014, weakening the naira currency, causing foreign exchange shortages and sending inflation spiralling.
Ordinary Nigerians have been forced to tighten their belts, as the cost of living has soared.
Murray-Bruce, a senator who represents the southern oil-rich state of Bayelsa in the national assembly, established the Silverbird Group in 1980.
The group also operates cinemas and shopping malls in Lagos and Abuja and has interests in real estate and property in Nigeria’s south and southeast.
It has organised the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria pageant since 1983 and is involved in hosting the Mr Nigeria contest. Vanguard