Otedola grabs FBNH largest single equity share
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
Allegedly riding on Oba Otudeko’s fall, former oil magnate and Lagos billionaire, Mr. Femi Odetola has acquired 5.07 percent equity stake in FBN Holding Plc, making him the largest single stakeholder in the company.
Unlike Oba Otudeku who is believed to have been prevailed upon to give up his shareholding in FBNH Plc, Odetola divested fully from Forte Oil in 2019 in a share purchase deal, was informed by personal decision to try his hands in the energy sector, after putting in two decades in the oil and gas sector.
The former oil tycoon’s decision to go into financial equity trading has caught market forecasters and analysts by surprise, owing to his supposed preference for the energy sector to which he is believed to have invested quite some amount of liking and attention, even whilst still pulling the strings in the downstream sector.
Those whose business it is to know say Otedola’s sudden switch of interest may not be unconnected with pressure from certain cultural background, for him to step into the shoes of the former Chairman of First bank of Nigeria (FBN) Plc, and mother company of First Bank of Nigeria Holding (FBNH), Oba Otudeko; a foremost investor and shareholder in FBN.
It will be recalled that when news about the acquisition of stakes broke out last week, the management of FBNH countered with a denial, saying it was not aware of such development. FBN Holdings said it was yet to receive any notification about the acquisition in a statement published on the website of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX).
The statement signed by the FBNH Company Secretary, Mr. Seye Kosoko, reads: “The attention of FBNH has been drawn to media reports of today, Oct. 22, purporting that a certain individual has acquired significant shareholding interest in FBN Holdings, making him the majority shareholder in the company.
“As a listed company, the shares of FBN Holdings are publicly traded, and sale and acquisition of shares are expected in the normal course of business.”
The company explained that as a player in a regulated environment, trading of significant shares required due notification to everyone concerned, including shareholders and the regulators; especially in situation where shares are held in different vehicles.
“The company is yet to receive any notification from the individual mentioned in the media report, of such acquisitions. FBN Holdings Plc will always notify the appropriate agencies and authorities whenever it receives any notice of significant shareholding by the shareholders and the company’s registrars.”
In keeping with its stated principles above, FBNH on Saturday confirmed the development.
Mr. Seye Kosoko in an update which was also posted on the website of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Ltd, affirmed the acquisition of 5.07 percent equity stake in the company by Otedola.
The statement reads: “We refer to our communication to the market dated October 22, on the above subject wherein we stated that we would inform the public of any substantial acquisition, upon receipt of notification from the Shareholder.
“This morning, Oct. 23, 2021, FBN Holdings Plc received a notification from APT Securities and Funds Ltd., that their client, Mr Otedola Olufemi Peter and his nominee, Calvados Global Services Ltd. have acquired a total of 1,818,551,625 units of shares from the company’s issued share capital of 35,895,292,791.
“Based on the foregoing, the equity stake of Mr Otedola Olufemi Peter and his nominee in the company is now 5.07 percent.”
Commenting on the issue, industry frontline player and Managing Director of APT Securities and Funds Ltd., Malam Garba Kurfi, confirmed to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that Otedola is now the largest single shareholder in the FBNH.
He however explained that 95 percent of FBNH shares were in the hands of other shareholders, comprising Pension Fund Administrators and other individuals; to dispel misconception that Otedola controls the biggest equity share.
NAN quoted Kurfi as saying that Otedola started buying into the company in July when the opportunity arose. NAN also report that it gathered from a reliable source Otedola bought off Oba Otudeko’s entire stakes in FBNH, following directive from the Central Bank of Nigeria for the latter to divest from the company.
Otedola had told the world in 2019 after divesting from Forte Oil that he would henceforth focus on his flagship power asset, Geregu Power Plant, and concentrate on the energy sector. With Power, the billionaire and frontline philanthropist believes he has the business that attracts high demand with less competition when compared to oil and gas.
Under Forte Oil, Geregu Power was believed to have posted margins as high as 40%, boosting the company’s operating income since its acquisition in 2013.
Speculations is rife that Otedola may have found the energy sector less attractive, less cumbersome and less profit yielding, hence his sudden his decision to invest in equity trading; while watching out for the performance of his business interests in the energy sector.