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Saturday, 04 January 2020

Jeff Bezos is still the richest person in the world, even after losing $10 billion in one year.

The Amazon founder held onto the top spot in the final day of the 2019 Bloomberg Billionaire Index with an estimated net worth of $115 billion. He's trailed closely by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, whose estimated worth is $113 billion.

Bezos, Gates and French business magnate Bernard Arnault are the only three billionaires on the list whose net worths exceed $100 billion.

Bezos was expected to lose the top spot in the billionaire index after a choppy year for his finances. As part of his divorce settlement with ex-wife Mackenzie Bezos, he held onto 75% of the couple's Amazon stock.

The rest went to his former wife, who also received a 4% stake in the company. That amounted to around $37 billion, making her the 25th-richest person in the world.

Gates briefly toppled Bezos in November after Amazon profits fell nearly 28% from the previous year while Microsoft shares soared 48%. But his time at the top was short-lived.

Familiar faces round out the current top 10. Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg clock in fourth and fifth. The Facebook founder added a staggering $26.3 billion to his personal wealth this year.

Julia Flesher Koch, widow of conservative businessman David Koch and the only woman in the top 10, is worth $62 billion.



Published in World

A U.S. air strike Friday which killed key Iranian and Iraqi military personnel has raised concerns that escalating Middle East tensions may disrupt oil supplies. The immediate effect saw Brent crude futures jumping nearly $3, their highest since September.

Brent, the international benchmark, hit an intraday high of $69.16 a barrel, its highest since Sept. 17, before easing to $68.21, up $1.96, or 3%, by 0618 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were trading up $1.68, or 2.8%, at $62.86 a barrel, having earlier spiked to $63.84 a barrel, the highest since May 1.

“The supply side risks remain elevated in the Middle East and we could see tensions continue to elevate between the U.S. and Iran-backed militia in Iraq,” said Edward Moya, analyst at brokerage OANDA, in an e-mail to Reuters.

“This is more than just bloodying Iran’s nose,” said AxiTrader’s Stephen Innes. “This is an aggressive show of force and an outright provocation that could trigger another Middle East war.”

An air strike at the Baghdad International Airport early on Friday killed seven persons, including Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Soleimani’s killing marks a dramatic escalation in the regional “shadow war” between Iran and the United States and its allies. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed harsh revenge.

“There is an ever present risk that Iraq would be the theatre where the struggle between the U.S. and Iran would play out,” Helima Croft, RBC Capital Markets’ global head of commodity strategy said in a note.

Iraq, the second largest producer among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, exports about 3.4 million barrels per day of crude mostly from southern Basra port.

“The surge in oil price just now was primarily driven by news of U.S. air strike killing a high-level general of Iran,” said Margaret Yang, market analyst of CMC Markets.

Oil prices were also lifted by China’s central bank saying on Wednesday it was cutting the amount of cash that banks must hold in reserve, releasing around 800 billion yuan ($115 billion) in funds to shore up the slowing Chinese economy.

Published in Business
Saturday, 04 January 2020 14:47

Asian shares stumble, oil, gold up

Asian shares slipped on Friday, erasing early gains, while gold shone and oil prices spiked after U.S. airstrikes in Iraq killed a top Iranian commander, heightening geopolitical tensions.

Iranian Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, and top Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed early on Friday in a U.S. airstrike on their convoy at Baghdad airport, prompting Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to vow harsh revenge.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan. MIAPJ0000PUS had touched its highest point since June 15, 2018, in early trade, but fell after reports of the airstrike emerged. It was last down 0.16 per cent.

European shares were set to follow their Asian counterparts lower.
Pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures STXEc1 shed 0.66 per cent to 3,757, German DAX futures FDXc1 were down 0.6 per cent to 13,303.5 and FTSE futures FFIc1 gave up 0.42 per cent to 7,514.

China’s CSI300 index, one of the world’s best-performing indexes last year, struggled to stay in positive territory but was last down about 0.2 per cent.

Australian shares finished up 0.64 per cent, but off earlier highs.

“It remains very unclear exactly what impact (the U.S. strikes) could have on the equity market,” said Tapas Strickland, director of economics and markets at National Australia Bank.

“It is significant that one of Iran’s top military generals was reported to have been taken out … but it all hinges on what Iran does in terms of retaliation,” he said.

Middle Eastern tensions upset a rally for the MSCI index, which finished at its highest close in more than 18 months on Thursday.

It had been lifted by a New Year’s Day announcement from China’s central bank that it would cut the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves, releasing around 800 billion yuan (114.87 billion dollars).

Against the backdrop of a thaw in trade tensions between the United States and China, global markets had seen the renewed appetite for risk assets.

“You have from both a policy and trade perspective a favourable framework for … risk assets for the weeks to come,” said Frank Benzimra, head of Asia equity strategy at Societe Generale in Hong Kong.

“The issue in our view, and that is the central scenario, is beyond these few weeks – where could we see a further correction?” he said, noting that the United States is unlikely to enjoy further fiscal stimulus before the presidential election in November.

Shares had received further support from data on Thursday showing factory activity in China continued to grow at a solid pace in December, and that business confidence improved.

Markets in Japan remain closed for a national holiday. Overnight, Wall Street’s major indexes notched record highs in their first session of the decade.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average. DJI rose 1.16 per cent to 28,868.8.

The SP 500 .SPX gained 0.84 per cent to 3,257.85 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 1.33 per cent to 9,092.19.

But U.S. stock futures pointed to a grim day on Friday after the airstrikes, with SP e-minis ESc1 shedding 0.84 per cent.

U.S. Treasury futures also rose TYc1 reflecting an implied yield of 1.74 per cent.

While equity markets turned lower, oil prices surged on news of Soleimani’s death, which ramped up supply worries as the geopolitical situation deteriorated.

The global benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 shot 2.97 per cent higher to 68.22 dollars per barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 jumped 2.81 per cent to 62.90 dollars per barrel.

The strikes came after U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Thursday there were indications Iran or forces it backs may be planning additional attacks after Iranian-backed demonstrators hurled rocks at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

In currency markets, the dollar weakened as investors snapped up safe-haven yen. The greenback fell 0.42 per cent against the Japanese currency to 108.11 Japanese yuan.

The dollar was little changed against the euro at 1.1167 dollar.

The dollar index .DXY, which tracks the dollar against a basket of six major rivals, was down 0.04 per cent at 96.808.

The U.S. strikes in Iraq and recent dollar weakness combined to burnish the value of gold, driving the precious metal 0.84 per cent higher on the spot market XAU= to 1,541.73 dollars per ounce, around four-month highs.

Published in News Economy
Saturday, 04 January 2020 14:38

How Trump made the decision to kill Soleimani

When President Donald Trump’s national security team went to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Monday, they weren’t expecting him to approve an operation to kill Major General Qassem Soleimani.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defence Secretary Mark Esper, and General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had gone to Palm Beach, Florida, to brief Trump on airstrikes the Pentagon had just carried out in Iraq and Syria against Iranian-sponsored Shiite militia groups.

One briefing slide shown to Trump listed several follow-up steps the U.S. could take, among them targeting Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, according to a senior U.S. official familiar with the discussions who was not authorised to talk about the meeting on the record.

Unexpectedly, Trump chose that option, the official said, adding that the president’s decision was spurred on in part by Iran hawks among his advisers.

That meant the Pentagon suddenly faced the daunting task of carrying out Trump’s orders.

The first hint that further U.S. action was possible came only minutes after the end of the meeting with Trump.

“In our discussion today with the president, we discussed with him other options that are available.

“And I would note also that we will take additional actions as necessary,” Esper told reporters.

Soleimani wasn’t mentioned publicly as a possible target.

But behind the scenes, Trump’s decision set off a furious effort by the Pentagon, CIA and others to locate the Iranian general and put in place military assets to kill him.

U.S. intelligence agencies, which had been tracking Soleimani for years, knew he was on an extended Middle East trip that had taken him to Lebanon and Syria.

They learned that he would be flying from Damascus to Baghdad within days.

He seemed unusually unconcerned about covering his tracks, officials noted.

He was traveling from Syria to Baghdad on a flight that was not secret, Iranian officials said on Friday, ostensibly for meetings with Iraqi officials.

But U.S. officials claimed on Friday that Soleimani’s trip had a more nefarious purpose: He was in the final stages of planning major attacks against U.S. facilities in several Middle East countries, they said.

“He was personally going to a few locations for final planning authority for what we assessed to be something big,” said the officials, who briefed reporters under ground rules that didn’t allow them to be identified.

The specific targets were unclear and officials declined to describe the evidence that backed up their assessment.

He had already been linked to a Dec. 27 rocket attack that killed an American military contractor near Kirkuk, Iraq.

In the days before Soleimani arrived in Baghdad, U.S. officials blamed him for orchestrating violent protests at the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad.

A senior State Department official said new intelligence indicated Soleimani was plotting attacks on American diplomats, military personnel and facilities that house Americans in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.

“There was consensus in the president’s national security Cabinet that the risk of doing nothing was unacceptable given the intelligence and given the effectiveness that Soleimani presents,” the official said.

When Soleimani arrived in Baghdad on Thursday, a U.S. drone and other military aircraft were circling near Baghdad International Airport.

Solaimani and several members of a pro-Iranian military got into two vehicles and were riding on the airport road toward downtown Baghdad when missiles fired from the drone struck.

Both vehicles were engulfed in flames.

According to Iraqi officials, rescuers identified Soleimani’s body among the casualties by the blood-red ring he always wore that was still attached to his ash-covered left hand.

Published in World
Saturday, 04 January 2020 13:37

Chinese shares closed mixed on Friday

Major Chinese stock indices on Friday ended mixed, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index down 0.05 per cent, at 3,083.79 points.

The Shenzhen Component Index closed 0.17 per cent higher at 10,656.41 points.

The combined turnover of stocks covered by the two indices stood at 695.38 billion yuan (or about 99.79 billion U.S. dollars), shrinking from 751.5 billion yuan in the previous trading day.

Most stocks rose, with gainers outnumbering losers by 767 to 609 on the Shanghai bourse and 1,234 to 835 in Shenzhen.

Companies in the sectors of farming, mining service and gold saw robust growth in share prices, with shares of Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Ltd. rising by the daily 10-per cent limit to 6.03 yuan per share.

However, shares in the industries of cement and liquor led the losses.
Meanwhile, the ChiNext Index, China’s NASDAQ-style board of growth enterprises, gained 0.18 per cent to close at 1,836.01 points.

Published in Bank & Finance

“The Honorable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, H.E. Chief Timipre Sylva has declared 2020 as the year of Gas for the Nation”, the news piece started.

What amazing news! And certainly long overdue. As it seems, Nigerian officials have finally taken the cue. As I have said ever so often, more than an oil nation, Nigeria is a gas nation. It just doesn’t act like it.

Undoubtedly, natural gas has the enormous potential to diversify and grow the Nigerian economy, power its industries and homes, produce ever-so-lacking wealth, create jobs, develop associated industries in the petrochemical sector, raise people out of poverty, the list goes on.

Mr. Sylva’s demonstrated intent could perhaps become the most relevant political action anyone has taken in Nigeria in years and could change the country forever; and yet, the work ahead is so vast, we can only hope he has the strength to pull it off.

To be sure, naming 2020 the year of gas for Nigeria has a really nice ring to it, but marketing alone will not cut it. Concerted governmental action is essential if we are to see true growth in the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) sector, and first of all, we need to see a conclusion to the long delayed Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme. Sylva stated that this was his main priority, so let’s hope it happens soon.

Once the programme is cleared, oil producers will have a more conclusive alternative to flaring. They will be able to monetize a resource that has so far been wasted, but still that will not suffice.

The flaring issue in Nigeria is tremendous. Every year, 2 million tonnes of LPG are flared, instead of being used as a source of power or feedstock. That means millions of dollars literally going up in smoke. Nigeria’s zero-flaring programme has been on-going for years, and yet, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has just released results that indicate that gas flaring has been consistently increasing over time. More specifically, “a total of 276.04 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas was flared from Nigeria's oil fields between September 2018 and September 2019”. Further, NNPC stated that “the volume of gas flared within this period was more than what was supplied to power generation companies for electricity production which was 275.31bcf”. This is taking place in a country where 45% of the population does not have access to electricity, besides the extremely detrimental effect that has on businesses ability to compete and the extraordinary environmental damage that represents.

Already, the federal government announced in August that it would not be able to fulfill its Zero Routine Flaring target by 2020 and is yet to provide a new deadline for this goal to be achieved.

The problem remains the same as ever. It is much, much cheaper for producers to flare up and pay the fines than do anything about it. This can not continue to be. Stronger action is needed and it falls on Mr. Sylva’s leadership to see it done.

I don’t mean by this to point the finger at oil producers. Most would probably want to monetize that resource, and would if they could. But we lack legislation, infrastructure, pricing regulations, and actors ready to receive the feedstock. They can’t just pipe the gas somewhere and hope for the best. We need to focus on deepening domestic gas penetration and promote adoption amongst the population, foster the development of gas associated industries like ammonia and urea plants, use this resource for power generation, etc. Demand doesn’t grow out of nowhere.

For this to workout, everybody needs to work together. That means the ministry and the NNPC need to partner with the international oil companies, the indigenous oil companies as well as with the country’s financial institutions to create the solutions that can make this industry flourish. That is a tall job, but an essential one.

Of course, the news that the output of liquefied natural gas (LNG) coming from the Bonny LNG-plant is going to expand by 35% once the 7th LNG train is operational is fantastic. Nigeria will strengthen its position as one of the world’s biggest LNG exporters and that will bring considerable wealth for the country, but its people continue to be in the dark.

And LNG expansion projects are something IOCs are well prepared to do, but there are other important roles in boosting the gas industry that have to be taken by others.

I speak of course of marginal field development, a topic that is of fundamental importance to me and that I have extensively covered in my most recent book Billions at Play: The Future of African Oil and Doing Deals. Both for oil and gas, Nigeria’s marginal field development programme showed incredible promise when it was first launched in 2013. It gave opportunities to local companies to explore smaller discoveries that were uninteresting for the majors, which in turn allowed them to gain experience in leading exploration and production projects on their own. Further, it opened opportunities for domestic use of natural gas for power generation. That programme is now being copied by Angola, and yet, it has stalled in Nigeria.

Further, as I have extensively debated over the years, and most extensively in Billions at Play, we need to dramatically invest in Nigeria’s ability to negotiate and manage contracts. This applies both to the need to respect the sanctity of contracts, a fundamental part of giving international investors the confidence to trust that what they sign for will be respected, but also learning to choose who to sign contracts with. The current debacle with P&ID, an unknown little company that has managed to sue the Nigerian government for breach of contract in the English courts and is seeking USD$9.6 billion in compensation, is an incomprehensible situation that should never have taken place. We need to know who our partners are and who we should be signing contracts with, and then stick by them.

Only by combining the role of the majors, the indigenous companies, the necessary infrastructure development for gas transportation, bridging with the nation’s banks to help finance projects and by giving a clear legal framework to the sector, can we hope to succeed. I do not doubt that this is possible to accomplish in 2020 and the years to come, but coming from the experience of recent years, it does not seem probable, and no one pays the price for that more than everyday Nigerians, that continue to fail to benefit from its country’s resources.

Action is necessary as a matter of urgency.

This week it was disclosed that international oil and gas companies were holding back an estimated USD$58.4 billion in investments in oil and gas projects in Nigeria because of regulatory uncertainty. Foreign Direct Investment in Nigeria was USD$1.9 billion in 2018. It’s not like we don’t need the money.

But how can we expect international oil companies to feel comfortable signing off on billions in investment if after 20-plus years of negotiations we still haven’t managed to settle on the Petroleum Industry Bill that will oversee the sector? Who can blame them for waiting to see what happens? They are waiting for us to figure out how we want to regulate the industry, and after 20 years, we still don’t seem to know. That has to change, and soon.

Nigeria has an estimated 200 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves. It is high-time to put them to use. With the right policies we could change the face of the country completely. We could give light to our people, we could power our industries, releasing them from the handicapping dependency on diesel generators that make it all but impossible for them to be competitive, we could relinquish ourselves from our dependency on imported fuel for power and heat, we could create new opportunities for job creation and industrial development, we could take millions of people out of poverty... Further, strong domestic gas and gas-based industries could help boost intra-African trade, create new synergies with our neighbours, boost integration of power generation networks, establish new partnerships, even contribute to peace.

What I am saying, I say as an African, and it applies to many countries across the continent. However, Nigeria is in a prime position to truly enact change and be a beacon to others by showing leadership and resolve. It is the continent’s biggest economy and has the continent’s biggest reserves of hydrocarbons, both oil and gas. NNPC already works with some of the best major IOCs and the country has Africa’s best and most developed indigenous exploration and production capabilities. Let’s give ourselves the opportunity to be better and to live better, by taking advantage of the resources we already possess.

Mr. Sylva is showing leadership and drive. So far, he has proven himself to be the leader that Nigeria needs to develop new LPG and LNG industries that will take the country to the next level of development, not only economically speaking, but socially, environmentally, humanly. So let’s hope he can pull through the great transformations that need to occur for 2020 to truly be Nigeria’s year of gas.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

Isabel dos Santos, Africa's richest woman and the daughter of former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, said her businesses in Angola are set to fail after a court froze her assets and bank accounts in the oil-producing country.

"Freezing my accounts prevents me from being able to manage and recapitalize my companies," Dos Santos, who has been living outside Angola since 2018, said in an emailed statement. "As such, they have all but been sentenced to death."

The 46-year-old London-educated engineer amassed a fortune during her father's almost four-decade rule and has an estimated net worth of about $2 billion, Bloomberg data shows. In Angola, her business empire includes stakes in Angola's biggest mobile telecommunications company Unitel, two of the country's biggest private lenders, Banco de Fomento Angola and Banco BIC, a supermarket chain, a beer factory and a cable company.

Outside Angola, Dos Santos holds indirect stakes in several companies, including Portuguese oil company Galp Energia SGPS and cable company NOS SGPS.

Earlier this week, an Angolan court placed a freezing order on the Angolan assets of Dos Santos, her husband Sindika Dokolo, and one of her executives, Mario da Silva. The nation's Attorney General accuses the three of engaging in transactions with state-owned companies that led to the government incurring losses of $1.14 billion.The move marks another step in President Joao Lourenco's bid to battle graft and dismantle the influence of his predecessor's family over key industries.

Since Lourenco took power in 2017, Jose Filomeno, Isabel's brother, has been fired as the head of Angola's sovereign wealth fund and accused of illegally transferring $500 million from Angola's central bank to the U.K. Their sister, Welwitschia dos Santos, recently lost her seat as a member of parliament after leaving Angola.

Isabel dos Santos, whose wealth and influence earned her the nickname "The Princess," has accused Lourenco of carrying out a witch hunt against her family and insists that her wealth has been the product of hard work and determination. She said she created more than a dozen companies in Angola that collectively employed more than 10,000 people, whose jobs were now at risk.

"I was given no opportunity to respond to the charges which, so far as we are even able to understand them, appear to be wholly bogus," she said. "We are concerned that the so-called charges may be based on fabricated documents."

Even so, the clamp-down against Dos Santos has been welcomed by some in Angola, where poverty is rife despite the nation's oil and diamond riches and resentment has been stoked by the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a politically connected elite. The southern African nation is ranked one of the world's most corrupt nations by Transparency International.

"The idea that they are being the target of a witch hunt is hard to accept when many of them have been living the good life and never seemed to be worried when others were being prosecuted," said Paulo Carvalho, a sociology professor at Agostinho Neto University in Luanda, the Angolan capital. "The freezing order is aimed at preventing the transfer or sale of some of these assets and won't interfere with the day-to-day business of these companies."Dos Santos said she would fight the injustice that had been perpetrated against her and warned the court ruling would send the wrong message to international investors.

"If this judgment is allowed to stand it shows that the justice system is flawed and the government is prepared to abuse it for their own ends," she said. "This is a smokescreen to mask the flawed economic policy which the current government have introduced."

Allegations made by the Angolan attorney general include that:

- The state, through its diamond-marketing company Sodiam and oil company Sonangol, transferred large sums of foreign currency to foreign companies -- of which the ultimate beneficiaries were the individuals facing the court order -- without securing the expected returns.

- Sonangol paid 75.1 million euros ($83.8 billion) to buy a stake in Galp Energia indirectly held by Dos Santos and her husband. Shortly before Dos Santos was fired as Sonangol's chairwoman in 2017, she tried to repay the consideration received for the stake in Angolan kwanzas but Sonangol's new board returned the money and asked that payment be made in euros. It was never received.

- Dos Santos and her husband entered a 50-50 joint venture with state-owned diamond company Sodiam to invest in Geneva-based jewelry maker De Grisogono. Sodiam ended up paying most of the initial 120 million-euro loan that was taken to fund the investment.

- Former President Dos Santos ordered Sodiam to sell diamonds to companies related to the individuals notified in the court order at below market prices. They then sold the gems abroad and generated hefty profits.

- The three individuals sought to hide assets bought with state funds by transferring them to other entities. Almost all of their assets were alleged to be held outside of Angola.

- Portuguese police blocked a 10-million-euro bank transfer from a Portuguese bank to Russia that Dos Santos tried to carry out through her business partner Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento.

- Dos Santos tried to sell her 25% stake in Unitel to a foreign investor.


Credit: Bloomberg

Published in Business

Nigerian industrialist, Aliko Dangote, became $4.3 billion richer in 2019. Bloomberg reports that Mr Dangote's fortune continued to grow following investments in cement, flour and sugar.

Mr Dangote, widely reputed as Africa's richest man, ended the last decade with a net worth of almost $15 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The development makes the 62-year-old Nigerian businessman the 96th wealthiest man in the world, according to data from the index.

The billionaire mogul was born into a wealthy family of prominent traders in Kano. At a relatively young age of 21, Mr Dangote incorporated his own cement business. He has since diversified into manufacturing of different goods, spreading his tentacles across the African continent.

One of his numerous companies is the Dangote Cement Plc, a Nigerian multinational publicly traded cement manufacturer headquartered in Lagos. The company is engaged in the manufacture, preparation, import, packaging, and distribution of cement and related products in Nigeria and has plants or import terminals in about nine other African countries.

The High, Low Moments in the last decade

For years, the Dangote brand has been a recurring feature in the Nigerian economy. The brand has also extended its reach beyond the West African sub-region to other parts of the continent and beyond.

In the last decade, it has recorded feats in different significant areas of the economies of major countries across the continent.

In 2016, Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) bought Twister B.V., a company headquartered in the Netherlands delivering reliable, high-yield and robust solutions in natural gas processing and separation to the upstream and midstream oil and gas sectors. Twister's unique separation capabilities are designed for augmenting production and streamlining processes, to capitalise on high-yield gas processing for maximising revenues.

Based on sophisticated patented technology, Twister gas plants are cheaper to build and operate compared to alternative technologies and deliver better performance. The company has customers in Nigeria, Malaysia, and South America. The acquisition at the time complemented DIL's portfolio of investments in the upstream, midstream, and downstream segments of the sector.

Although it has not really been all smooth for the business mogul and his chain of companies, he has managed to stay afloat despite business uncertainties.

For instance in November 2019, following the approval from Dangote Flour Mills (DFM) shareholders, Olam International Ltd. completed its acquisition of DFM for N120 billion ($331 million).

In April 2019, Olam submitted a binding offer to acquire 100% equity of DFM. Under terms of the transaction, Olam acquired all the outstanding and issued shares of DFM that it does not currently own through a Scheme of Arrangement.

Earlier, the Nigerian Stock Exchange had put shares of the company on full suspension. The loss-making company was subsequently delisted from the Main Board of the NSE.

Dangote Refinery

Meanwhile, Mr Dangote is close to completing what has been described as one of the world's largest oil refinery in Nigeria. The plant is expected to impact Nigeria's fuel consumption records and the local economy.

Last year, the businessman took delivery of the World's largest single Crude Distillation Column at the refinery site in Lagos. The tower arrived Ibeju Lekki, Lagos, after spending four months on the sea. The equipment, built by Sinopec, had left a wharf in Ningbo, China, in July.

Apart from the plant, Mr Dangote is also constructing a fertiliser factory on the site.

In the same vein, to strengthen his cement production outfit, the businessman is equally embarking on some aggressive restructuring moves that could see Dangote Cement outperforming its competitors in the market.

Last week, the management of Dangote Cement Plc announced the appointment of Michel Puchercos as the new managing director of the company. The new MD's appointment becomes effective on February 1, 2020, a disclosure notice by the company said.

Mr Puchercos's appointment was made public after he resigned from rival cement company, Lafarge Africa Plc.

The Board of Lafarge Africa had earlier notified the investing public of the resignation of Mr Puchercos from the company as the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (GMD/CEO) with effect from January 17, 2020. Mr Puchercos served the company as an executive director on the board since April 1, 2016.

Lafarge is a leading Sub-Saharan Africa building materials company, dealing in cement, aggregates and concrete. It is also listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).


Credit: Premium Times

Published in Business
  1. Opinions and Analysis


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