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Forte Oil is the name that precedes Femi Otedola’s entrepreneurial reputation. According to a litany of reports released last month, the chairman who is believably one of Nigeria’s richest, made known his intentions to sell a 75 % stake in the oil company.
This development which was published on Christmas Day last year was done by Femi Otedola himself, who confirmed that he had finalized to sell the stake to Prudent Energy. The deal is expected to he completed in Q1 2019 subject to the satisfaction of various conditions and receipt of applicable regulatory approval.
Forte Oil officially notified the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Securities, and the investing community that its majority shareholder, Femi Otedola reached an agreement to divest his full 75 percent direct and indirect shareholding in the company’s downstream business.
According to a notification signed by Akinleye Olagbende, Forte Oil’s general counsel, Otedola’s divestment is pursuant to his decision to explore and maximize business opportunities in refining and petrochemicals.
This development has put financial analysts to work and industry insiders to the press test. Experts have analyzed that the majority stake sale could be a result of financial setbacks and the need for liquidity. Otedola had previously topped the debtor and non-performing loan owners in Nigeria. He was reported by CNB to have owed USD 1 Bn at a time, so if this analysis holds any factuality, the buyout is to some, not a surprise.
Notable exits from the industry have been recorded since 2013. Chevron and Exxon sold parts of their Nigerian businesses, Oando is in the thick of financial constraints and Erin Petroleum recently filed for bankruptcy. If this is a trend for the right reasons, then Otedola’s move could have been one of the many.
Femi Otedola was the second Nigerian to make Forbes List of Billionaires in 2009, having owned a multiplicity of companies and assets within and outside the country, including Zenon Oil. While being a notable Zenith Bank shareholder alongside UBA, his strides have not been cut short, yet. Save his ties with Olusegun Obasanjo’s Presidential Library, we are surely not seeing the last of his ripples in Nigeria.
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