A Liverpool, UK-based software and support services firm with the same shareholders as SportPesa, SPS Sportsoft Limited, is set to be dissolved and its assets worth Ksh2 Billion taken over by the United Kingdom government.
“The Registrar of Companies gives notice that, unless cause is shown to the contrary, the company will be struck off the register and dissolved not less than two months from the date shown above.”
“Upon the company’s dissolution, all property and rights vested in, or held in trust for, the company are deemed to be bona vacantia, and will belong to the Crown,” a notice dated September 14 reads in part.
The company’s clients included SportPesa’s Kenya operation, Pevans East Africa, as well as subsidiaries in South Africa and Tanzania.
Pevans was SPS Sportsoft’s biggest client, accounting for 96% of the total of revenues £20.6 million (Sh3.1 billion) posted in the nine months ended December 2018. In Kenya, SportPesa has been rocked by shareholder wrangles involving its Kenyan and Bulgarian shareholders, legal battles with the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
Pevans’ operating licence was cancelled in October 2019, around the same time the State led by Interior CS Fred Matiang’i launched an all-out assault on the betting firms including SportPesa, claiming they were a conduit for money laundering and citing the impact of gambling on youth and society. KRA began pursuing unpaid taxes amounting to Ksh95 billion.
SPS Sportsoft was required by UK regulations to publish its financial statements for 2019 by December 2020, but failed to do so.
The company, however, failed to offer any information as to why it is being liquidated. By UK law, a company can be dissolved by its creditors or if it fails to comply with its legal obligations.
In its most recent financial statements, SPS Sportsoft ended the period in the nine months to December 2018 with assets of £13.2 million (Sh2 billion). Unlike assets, the crown does not inherit liabilities from dissolved companies in the UK.
“Property, cash and any other assets owned by a company when it is dissolved automatically pass to the Crown. This is because the law says this happens.
“Liabilities of a company do not pass to the Crown on dissolution: they are normally extinguished,” an explainer by the government on the process reads in part.
The battle in the SportPesa boardroom pit Kenyan shareholders against their Bulgarian counterparts. Paul Ndung’u and Asenath Wachira accused CEO Ronald Karauri, a Kenyan, of working with the Bulgarians to push them out of the operation.
Ndung’u vehemently opposed the transfer of the SportPesa brand name to Milestone Games Limited, a company in which Karauri holds a 54.4% stake. The move allowed Sportpesa’s betting platform to make a muted comeback in the Kenyan market.