Oando PLC’s shareholders can heave a sigh of relief as the Company, has set the record straight following claims in the mediawhich implied that Oando has been ordered by the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) to pay Ansbury Investment Inc. $680 million. The calculated misinformation arose from a press release issued by the lawyer and legal counsel of Ansbury Investment Inc., Mr. Adrea Moja, following the LCIA’s ruling in London.
The LCIA ruling follows months of arbitration on a loan repayment dispute between Oando PLC’s Group Chief Executive Adewale Tinubu, the Deputy Group Chief Executive, Omamofe Boyo, beneficial owners of Whitmore Asset Management Limited and Gabriel Volpi the beneficial owner of Ansbury Inc. The dispute dates back to 2017 when Gabriel Volpi allegedly attempted to breach a loan repayment agreement between him and Whitmore Limited in the British Virgin Island.
Ansbury and Whitmore Limited incorporated a joint venture investment vehicle in the British Virgin Islands called Ocean and Oil Development Partners (OODP BVI). OODP BVI owns a 99.99% stake in Ocean and Oil Development Partners (OODP Nigeria) who in turn owns 57.37% stake in Oando PLC.
Contrary to media speculations, the LCIA had infact ruled that OODP BVI which Gabriel Volpi owns a 60% stake in should pay Ansbury (his own company) a total sum of $600 million while Whitmore pay Ansbury $80million. Going by the ownership structure this implies that Gabriel Volpi would infact be paying himself $360 million. Payment terms are yet to be released by the LCIA and is expected to be made known to the parities in the due course.
The dispute between Ansbury and the Whitmore principals arose when Gabriel Volpi called in his loan repayment before its due date, January 1, 2018. Volpi had allegedly invested $750 million used for Oando’s purchase of ConocoPhillips Nigeria assets. He further breached the jurisdiction of the law governing OODP BVI by petitioning the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission accusing Oando PLC of ‘financial mismanagement and cooked books, a company his counsel claims he has a majority shareholding in, all a bid to recoup his loan from the principals.
Oando’s public documents has proven that the claim of Volpi’s shareholding is false. OODP Nigeria, as at the time of this report, remains the majority shareholder in Oando with a 57.37% stake in the company.
Gabriel Volpi has in the past few years been linked to several scandals in the country including the disagreement between his maritime company, Integrated Logistics Services Limited (INTELS) and the Nigerian Ports authority (NPA). The NPA had instructed INTELS to comply with the Treasury Savings Account (TSA) in a project, which the logistics firm was handling for the agency. This instruction did not go down well with the INTELS as it argued that the TSA would affect the payment of its loan to the banks.
In a letter to the Managing Director of NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, the Chief Executive Officer of INTELS, Andrews Dawes, at the time, made it clear that the TSA would cause a run on the finances of the company. The altercation between the two heavyweights led to the cancellation of the project by NPA and brought to the forefront other underlying issues leading to the Federal Government’s (through NPA) decision to break INTELS’ monopoly, which was detrimental to indigenous companies in the oil and gas logistics sector.
Despite attempts to bring Oando and its principals to its knees, the company has successfully navigated through this difficult time and the reputational damage caused by the SEC saga. In 2017, the company recorded profits in all four quarters and morerecently Oando recorded a N4.2 billion PAT in Q1 2018 and 19.8 billion PAT in its FYE 2017 financial results. Oando has recorded six consecutive profits since posting its FYE 2016 results.
Following the reputational and financial losses suffered by the company as a result of Volpi’s petition to the SEC, Oando kicked off 2018 by reaching a peace accord with one of its petitioners, Alhaji Dahiru Mangal, in the bid to restore shareholder confidence in the brand.
In April, a two party consortium consisting of Oando PLC (“Oando”), in conjunction with its midstream affiliate, Axxela Limited (formerly known as Oando Gas & Power) and Oilserv Limited, were awarded the Engineering, Procurement, Construction (EPC) mandate for the Ajaokuta – Abuja portion (Lot 1) of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Pipeline system by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (“NNPC”).
The contract award follows an extensive due diligence process conducted by the NNPC following a submission by Oando and Oilserv in 2013 in response to an Expression of Interest for a contractor-financed EPC development of the AKK Pipeline Project. The US$727million Ajaokuta-Abuja Pipeline development is a 215km gas infrastructure with associated facilities such as Metering/Terminal Gas Station, Pigging Station, Block Valve Stations etc.
Much to the relief of its over 270,000 shareholders who suffered untold hardship as a result of the SEC crisis, the Commission gave the directive to lift the technical suspension on the shares of Oando. On its first full day of trading, Oando’s shares were already highly sought after. According to the Chief Compliance Officer and Company Secretary, Ms. Ayotola Jagun; “On day one, 178 million Oando shares were on bid with only 5.5 million available for sale. The Company’s share price hit the NSE daily priceceiling of 10% by 10.45am; further evidence that there is a lot of interest in Oando shares and that the general mood around the market and our shares is positive.”
Most recently, Oando Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC), Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), other indigenous and international oil companies in partnership with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) achieved a commendable feat with the signing of an agreement to implement Gas Projects worth $3.7 billion. The gas projects tagged ‘Seven Critical Gas Development Projects (7CGDP)’ is set to bridge the gas supply shortfall in the country. The 7CGDP is an integral part of the gas development strategy designed by the NNPC to leverage the full potential of gas to meet the target of generating at least 15 gigawatts (GW) of electricity by 2020. The agreement includes the development of the 4.3 trillion cubic feet (TCF) Assa North/Ohaji South field, the development of the 6.4 TCF Unitized Gas fields (Samabri-Biseni, Akri-Oguta, Ubie-Oshi and Afuo-Ogbainbri) and the development of 7 TCF Nigerian Petroleum Development Corporation’s (NPDC) OMLs 26, 30 and 42.
Like many other global brands, Oando took the risk of seeking an equity investment from Gabriel Volpi, one which hasn’t turned out in its favour. The company has been questioned for getting into bed with the devil. The answer to this question could lie in a desperate bid of two young Nigerian entrepreneurs striving to add value to the country by providing gainful employment both directly and indirectly to Nigerians as well as add its quota to the country’s GDP. A company that has successfully evolved from a downstream company to an active player in the full oil and gas value chain.
Volpi is presumed a cowboy investor and one who is not particularly interested in adding value to the Nigerian economy, community or impacting lives. Rather than creating a lasting positive impact, his actions have proven he is hell-bent on destroying value at all cost, even if it’s to the detriment of over 270,000 shareholders and over 25,000 lives impacted as a result of direct and indirect employment by Oando. In this instance, we must ask ourselves the following question, do we want one of Nigeria’s most prestigious oil and gas companies who has positively impacted the nation since inception to be destroyed?