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UK court: Volpi to pay 60% of $680m owed by firm

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… As Unclaimed dividends hit N130b***

The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) has ordered two companies owned by the Chief Executive Officer of Oando Plc, Mr. Wale Tinubu and his deputy, Mr. Mofe Boyo, to pay US$680 million (N244.8 billion) to Ansbury Investments. Ansbury is owned by Mr. Gabriele Volpi.

In a July 6 ruling, the LCIA held that Ocean and Oil Development Partners (OODP), British Virgin Islands, which owns 55.96 per cent of Oando Plc through a holding company, Ocean and Oil Development Partners (OODP) Nigeria Limited, is owing Ansbury Investments Incorporated US$600 million (N216 billion).

Ansbury Investment counsel Mr. Andrea Moja confirmed the LCIA award in a statement yesterday.

Moja said the Arbitration Court also held that Whitmore Asset Management Limited, whose ultimate beneficial owners are Tinubu and Boyo, was also owing Ansbury Investment US$80 million (N28.8 billion). The cumulative   debt owed by the Oando chiefs to Ansbury Investment totals US$680 million.

Documents obtained from the LCIA, which is reputed to be one of the world’s leading international institutions for commercial dispute resolution, identified the family of Volpi, a Nigerian-Italian, as the ultimate beneficial owner of Ansbury.

The London Arbitration Court ruled that the “Third Shareholders Agreement” between the parties, is legally binding on the parties as claimed by Ansbury Investment.

The documents indicated that in a few days, the court will pronounce on accrued interests on the debts.

It was learnt that the ruling was communicated to the parties on July 9.

The statement said: “The claim of Whitmore Asset Management Limited that the parties agreed to a binding Fourth Shareholders Agreement was rejected.

“The alleged agreement by which Whitmore Asset Management Limited was to hold 60 per cent Of Ocean and Oil Development Partners (BVI) Ltd is not binding on the parties.

“Ocean and Oil Development Partners (Bvi) Ltd owes a debt to Ansbury Investments Inc for an amount of US$ 600 million.

“Whitmore Asset Management Limited owes a debt to Ansbury Investments Inc for an amount of US$ 80 million.

“This Partial Award will be followed by a Final Award in which the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) will pronounce on interests on the amounts owed and legal expenses.

“Given the above, Ansbury Investments Inc will immediately submit an application to London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) in which it will be asked to charge Whitmore Asset Management Limited for all the due interests and legal expenses as well.”

When the disagreement broke in 2017, Ansbury had also petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in May over allegation of financial mismanagement, huge indebtedness as well as falsifying its financial statement.

In addition, Ansbury had also informed SEC that Oando’s “current liabilities as at December 31, 2016, far exceeds the current assets by N263.7 billion, confirming serious financial imbalance from the previous financial year”.

However, Lawyers representing Tinubu and Boyo the Group Chief Executive and Deputy Group Chief Executive of Oando PLC and co-owners of Whitmore Asset Management Limited, said contrary to the claim by Ansbury Investment Counsel,  Mr. Andrea Moja, the amount owed to Ansbury Investments Inc, owned by Mr. Gabriele Volpi, is $80m, which is owed by Whitmore Asset Management Limited, while the balance of $600m is owed by Ocean and Oil Development Partners (OODP) BVI.

Ocean and Oil Development Partners (OODP) BVI Ltd, is owned by all three parties Wale Tinubu, Mofe Boyo and Gabriele Volpi, hence the judgment by the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) implies that Volpi as part owner of OODP BVI owes himself by virtue of his ownership in the company.

It was learnt that had indicated that payment terms for the personal debt were being ironed out by the parties while payment terms for the $600 million owed by OODP will be determined by the LCIA.

The dispute between Gabrielle Volpi and the principals of Oando has been ongoing for over a year. It has caused concern for companies and individuals who look for investments to grow their business via individuals in the form of equity or debt.

Volpi, a significant shareholder in OODP invested in the company during Oando’s acquisition of ConocoPhillips Nigeria assets.  At the time, it would have seem like the investment of a lifetime, unfortunately, shortly after the price of oil crashed, many oil and gas companies folded up.

It was the resilience of its principals hat Oando is still alive today, industry sources said.

The assumption would be that against this backdrop Gabrielle Volpi would wait for OODP to start to reap the rewards of its investment however he has faced near financial ruin in his home country Italy and it seems is now by any means necessary trying to recoup his investments.

Since the upturn in commodity prices, Oando has recorded six consecutive quarters of profits.

The company kicked off 2018 on a positive note through continued restoration of value to its shareholders via profits in the first quarter of the year.


In the meantime, unclaimed dividends have risen to its highest level of N129.62 billion.  Shareholders have alleged deliberate efforts by registrars and company secretaries to frustrate the recovery of the unclaimed dividends and payment of new ones.

Latest update on unclaimed dividends by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showed that unclaimed dividends had risen to N129.62 billion by last December 31.

The report indicated that about a quarter of the unclaimed dividends were with registrars while the balance were with companies.

SEC in November 2015 launched the E-Dividend Mandate Management System (E-DMMS) in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) and other stakeholders. The E-DMMS is an E-dividend payment portal that ensures the payment of dividends directly into a shareholder’s account.

After about three years of campaign for e-dividend, SEC cancelled the issuance of physical dividend warrants, opting for full e-dividend payment for companies quoted on the stock market.

Shareholders, who spoke to The Nation at the weekend, alleged that the rate of adoption of the e-dividend and recovery on unclaimed dividends had been slowed down by bureaucratic bottlenecks and deliberate sabotage by some stakeholders, especially registrars and company secretaries.

Shareholders, who spoke under the condition of anonymity for fears of victimisation, said companies and registrars were unwilling to release the huge funds under their custody and had been employing delay tactics to frustrate shareholders from adoption of e-dividend.

According to the shareholders, company secretaries and registrars have perfected the tactics of selective payment and distribution of e-dividend while exploring loopholes in the rules and enforcement by SEC.

“Before you can open a shareholding account, you must necessarily fill Know-Your Customer (KYC) form that contains all your details, including bank account and official identity. You will also be required to sign your signature, provide utility bill, photocopies of identity card and many other requirements. But even after this process and your account is opened at the Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS), the registrars will still claim you don’t have specimen signature and all sorts of that,” a shareholders’ leader said.

According to them, with the shareholders’Bank Verification Number (BVN) that are registered with stockbrokers, registrars should be able to process e-dividend and make payment on the basis of confirmation by stockbrokers, who are the custodians of shareholders’ accounts.

They noted that the CSCS used a similar method to attain 100 per cent dematerialisation of share certificates, alleging that registrars and company secretaries are undermining the dividend payment process because “money is involved”.

They urged SEC to review the e-dividend process and work with stockbrokers to achieve seamless transition to full e-dividend payment.

“When you sell your shares through stockbrokers, you get your money, why is it that it is only when it comes to dividend payment that bureaucracy comes in and you are being tossed from one end to another? It is deliberate. They know what they are doing,” another shareholders’ leader lamented.


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Economy

NGX Weekly: Cadbury Lists 402.1m Additional Shares, Investors Lose N54bn

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NGX Weekly: Cadbury Lists 402.1m Additional Shares, Investors Lose N54bn

 Additional 402,082,657 ordinary shares of 50 Kobo each per share of Cadbury Nigeria Plc (Cadbury) were listed on the Daily Official list of Nigerian Exchange Ltd. (NGX) last week.

A weekly report of the NGX made available to newsmen in Lagos stated that the Cadbury additional shares were listed during the week.

The NGX explained that the additional shares listed on NGX arose from Cadbury’s conversion of N7,036,446,501.26 intercompany loan to equity.

“With this listing of the additional 402,082,657 ordinary shares, the total issued and fully paid up shares of Cadbury has now increased from 1,878,201,962 to 2,280,284,619

ordinary shares of 50 kobo each,” the regulator said.

Also in the course of the week under review, the NGX suspended trading in the shares of Arbico Plc on Friday.

The Exchange said the suspension was necessary to prevent trading in the shares of the company in preparation for the delisting of the securities of the company in line with the approval obtained from NGX.

Meanwhile, the April 2024 Issue of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) Savings Bonds was listed on the NGX on Monday.

In the course of trading for the week, trade turnover settled 15.8 per cent lower than the previous session.

Specifically, investors traded a total of 1.652 billion shares worth N42.677 billion in 38,123 deals this week on the floor of the Exchange, in contrast to 2.187 billion shares valued at N50.667 billion that exchanged hands last week in 45,277 deals.

Consequently, the NGX All-Share Index which opened the week at 98,233.76 lost 0.11 per cent to close at 98,125.73.

The market capitalisation also depreciated by 0.10 per cent or N54 billion to close the week at N55.508 trillion, as against N55.562 trillion posted in the previous week.

Similarly, all other indices finished lower with the exception of NGX Main Board, NGX Lotus II, NGX Industrial Goods and NGX Pension Broad which appreciated by 0.97, 0.58, 0.01 and 0.12 per cent respectively, while the NGX ASeM and NGX Sovereign Bond indices closed flat.

Meanwhile, the Financial Services Industry measured by volume led the activity chart with 979.479

million shares valued at N16.647 billion traded in 20,708 deals.

This contributed 59.30 per cent

and 39.01 per cent to the total equity turnover volume and value respectively.

The Conglomerates Industry followed with 239.825 million shares worth N2.879 billion in 2,178 deals.

The third place was the Consumer Goods Industry, with a turnover of 148.685 million shares worth N3.525 billion in 4,757 deals.

Trading in the top three equities namely Custodian Investment Plc, Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc and Access Holdings Plc measured by volume accounted for 500.343 million

shares worth N11.768 billion in 6,551 deals.

This contributed 30.29 per cent and 27.57 per cent to the total equity turnover volume and value respectively.

Also, 28 equities appreciated in price during the week lower than 40 equities in the previous week.

51 equities depreciated in price higher than 37 in the previous week, while 76 equities remained unchanged, lower than 77 recorded in the previous week.

On the losers’ table, PZ Cussons Nigeria led by 22.16 per cent to close at N21.60, NEM Insurance followed by 18.36 per cent to close at N8.45 per cent per share.

Eterna Plc lost 18.32 per cent to close at N11.15, United Bank of Africa(UBA) shed 17.23 per cent to close at N21.85 and The Initiates Plc dropped N15.22 per cent to close at N1.95 per share.

Conversely, International Energy Insurance led the gainers table by 11.49 per cent to close at N1.65, McNichols Plc trailed by 9.89 per cent to close at one Naira per share.

Custodian Investment Plc rose by 9.68 per cent to close at N10.20, Julius Berger advanced by 9.53 per cent to close at N79.30, while Airtel Africa Plc gained 8.97 per cent to close at N2,150 per share.

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FAAC: FG, States, LGs Share N1.208trn Revenue For April

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FAAC: FG, States, LGs Share N1.208trn Revenue For April

The Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), has shared the sum of N1.208 trillion as revenue for April among the Federal Government, states and Local Government Councils (LGCs).

The revenue was shared on Thursday at the May meeting of FAAC in Abuja.

A communiqué issued by the committee said that the N1.208 trillion total distributable revenue comprised statutory revenue of N284.716 billion, and Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue of N466.457 billion.

It also comprised Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL) revenue of N18.024 billion, and Exchange Difference revenue of N438.884 billion.

The communique said the total revenue of N2.192 billion was available in April.

“Total deduction for cost of collection is N80.517 billion; total transfers, interventions and refunds is N903.479 billion.

The communique said the Gross statutory revenue of N1.233 billion was received for the month under review. This was higher than the sum of N1.017 billion received in March by N216.282 billion,” it said.

It said that the gross revenue available from VAT in April was N500.920 billion, which is lower than the N549.698 billion available in March by N48.778 billion.

The communiqué said that from the N1.208 trillion total distributable revenue, the Federal Government received N390.412 billion, the state governments received N403.403 billion and the LGCs received N293.816 billion.

“A total sum of N120.450 billion (13 per cent of mineral revenue) was shared to the benefiting states as derivation revenue,” it said.

It said that on the N284.716 billion distributable statutory revenue, the Federal Government received N112.148 billion, the state governments received N56.883 billion and the LGCs received N43.855 billion.

It said that the sum of N71.830 billion (13 per cent of mineral revenue) was shared to the benefiting states as derivation revenue.

“The Federal Government received N69.969 billion, the state governments received N233.229 billion and the LGCs received N163.260 billion from the N466.457 billion distributable VAT revenue.

“A total sum of N2.704 billion was received by the Federal Government from the N18.024 billion EMTL, the state governments received N9.012 billion and the LGCs received N6.308 billion.

“The Federal Government received N205.591 billion from the N438.884 billion Exchange Difference revenue; the state governments received N104.279 billion, and the LGCs received N80.394 billion.

“The sum of N48.620 billion (13 per cent of mineral revenue) was shared to the benefiting states as derivation revenue,” it said.

According to the communiqué, Oil and Gas Royalties, Companies Income Tax (CIT), Excise Duty, Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT), EMTL and CET Levies increased significantly.

It, however, said that Import Duty and VAT recorded considerable decreases.

“The balance in the ECA was 473.754 million dollars.

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Extension Of Nigeria’s Continental Shelf As Lesson On Continuity

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Extension Of Nigeria’s Continental Shelf As Lesson On Continuity

On May 14, the High Powered-Presidential Committee on Nigeria’s Extended Continental Shelf Project was in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The committee came to brief President Bola Tinubu on recommendations given to Nigeria regarding its submission for an extended continental shelf by the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS).

The briefing was led by veteran diplomat, Amb. Hassan Tukur, the Chairman of the committee.

The update with the president featured technical presentations by Prof. Larry Awosika, a renowned marine scientist and Mr Aliyu Omar, Member/Secretary of the Committee and former staff of the National Boundary Commission (NBC).

Omar also served as the Desk Officer for the project office in New York for several years.

Worthy of note, Nigeria’s request to have it continental shelf extended was approved by the CLCS in August 2023.

The project, which aims to extend Nigeria’s maritime boundaries under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), has granted Nigeria sovereignty over an additional 16,300 square kilometres of maritime territory.

This is roughly five times the size of Lagos State.

The CLCS is mandated to, inter alia, consider the data and information submitted and provide recommendations on the outer limits submitted by the coastal state.

Article 76 of UNCLOS (1982) allows a qualifying coastal state to extend its continental shelf up to a maximum of 350M (350 nautical miles) or 150m nautical miles beyond its traditional Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 nautical miles.

Extension Of Nigeria’s Continental Shelf As Lesson On Continuity
President Bola Tinubu receiving Nigeria’s CLCS report from the committee

The continental shelf is the natural submerged prolongation of its land territory.

The journey to extend Nigeria’s continental shelf project began in 2009 with the country’s submission to the CLCS.

The project faced delays due to a lack of funds and administrative challenges; in 2013 the Senate of the Federal Republic in its resolution of Feb. 14, 2013, urged the Federal Government to fund the project and set up an independent body to handle it.

However, it was only in November 2015 that the then President Muhammadu Buhari revitalised it.

Subsequently, he appointed the High-Powered Presidential Committee (HPPC), headed by the former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Malam Abubakar Malami, to oversee the project.

The HPPC operated as an independent technical body, effectively managing the project by cutting down on government bureaucracy.

Omar had led the Nigerian Technical Team through the question-and-answer sessions with the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS).

He was also the Member/Secretary of the HPPC with a strong institutional memory of the project, highlighted this during the committee’s briefing to President Tinubu on May 14.

Omar said that when the HPPC briefed Buhari in 2022 on the status of the project, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) was still considering Nigeria’s submission and having technical interactions with the HPPC.

”These interactions and consideration have now culminated in the approval for Nigeria to extend its continental shelf beyond 200M (200 nautical miles).

”As it stands now, the area approved for Nigeria is about 16,300 square kilometres, which is about five times the size of Lagos State”, he said.

Nigeria’s extended continental shelf is in an area that is referred to as the ‘Golden Triangle of the Gulf of Guinea’ due to its abundance of natural resources such as hydrocarbons, natural gas, and a variety of solid minerals.

Awosika, a pioneer member and former Chairman of the CLCS, explained that the technical team’s work involved lengthy processes.

He said it also required highly technical steps in the acquisition, processing and analysis of extensive marine scientific data offshore Nigeria’s margin for the submission to the UN CLCS.

He said that the Nigerian team had to defend the submission with the CLCS which involved highly technical question-and-answer sessions and provision of additional data and information.

Receiving the report, Tinubu commended the members of the technical team for working tirelessly.

He applauded their high technical and scientific expertise and solidarity to national cause throughout the eight years of service to the nation before an agreement was finally reached with the UN CLCS in August 2023.

It is instructive to note that Tinubu highlighted the interactions he had with his predecessor, Buhari, on the project; given that it was he, Buhari, who set up the HPPC to oversee the project in 2015.

Tinubu recounted how Buhari briefed him on the importance of the project.

”This is a big congratulations for Nigeria. I commend the team and we must take advantage of this and invite you again to have a repeat of this knowledge exploration on geography, hydrography and marine life.

”Nigeria is grateful for the efforts that you put into gaining additional territory for the country without going to war; some nations went to war; and lost people and economic opportunities.

”We lost nothing but have gained great benefits for Nigeria; we will pursue the best option for the country,” Tinubu said.

Tinubu has also promised to ‘pursue the best option for the country’ on the project, even though the CLCS recommendations fall short of Nigeria’s submitted claim.

Perceptive observers say the achievement is a lesson on the importance of continuity in government projects. Abandoning projects due to changes in administration can lead to wasted resources and lost opportunities.

The extended continental shelf is a significant achievement of Tinubu’s administration and to Nigeria.

According to experts, this is something that has never happened in the nation’s history, and may never happen again.

By learning from the ECS project, Nigeria can improve its approach to governance and project management, ensuring that with perseverance and continuity strategic initiatives are completed despite challenges.

The ECS project, initiated in 2009, faced delays and funding issues but persistence through the efforts of the immediate past administration paid off, and was finally approved by the UN in August 2023, shortly after Tinubu assumed office.

The country has taken note of articles 7 and 8 in Annex II to the Convention on the Law of the Sea concerning recommendations received from the CLCS.

The project also demonstrates the importance of long-term thinking in governance.

Discerning stakeholders hold that while the project’s benefits may not be immediate, it will surely have a significant impact on Nigeria’s economy and maritime boundaries in the future.

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