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N240bn Debt: AMCON Takes Over Oil Magnate Festus Fadeyi’s Pan Ocean Assets

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The Asset Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON, on Thursday, July 2, took possession of Pan Ocean Oil Corporation Nigeria Limited, and its affiliate companies owned by billionaire oil mogul, Festus Fadeyi, over an unpaid N240 billion loan debt.

Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had on June 22, granted an ex-parte application by counsel to AMCON, Kunle Ogunba SAN, to take interim possession of the assets of Pan Ocean over the unpaid loan. The court also granted the application by AMCON to take over several oil mining and oil prospecting licenses exemplified by OML 147, 152 and 98 respectively owned by the company. Properties in Victoria Island, Lagos among several others were also included for possession.

“An order of this honourable court granting interim judicial protection to AMCON, the receiver/manager (and its duly appointed nominee; Mr. Kunle Ogunba SAN) appointed herein over the assets/businesses of the defendants by virtue of its deed of appointment dated March 5, 2020, in furtherance of the mutually binding covenants of the parties in the various facility/offer letters pending the determination of this suit is granted.” Justice Liman had ruled

However, Pan Ocean through its counsel, Oluwemimo Ogunde (SAN), had filed an application before the court asking it to stay the execution of the takeover order pending the determination of a suit marked, FHC/L/CS/552/2020, which is also a subject of an appeal before the Court of Appeal in Lagos. Ogunde described AMCON’s ex parte application leading to the takeover order as an abuse of court process, which he said the court rules frown upon.

A statement from AMCON announcing the takeover of the company’s assets reads:

“Hon. Justice A.M. Liman of the Federal High Court, presiding over the suit between the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) vs Everest Nominees Limited and Dr. Bolaji Ogundare a subsidiary of Pan Ocean Group has ordered AMCON and its assignee to take over all the assets of the companies.

Pan Ocean Group is promoted by Dr. Festus Fadeyi, a flamboyant Lagos oil and Gas businessman whose total indebtedness to AMCON is over N240 billion.

“The court had also granted an order appointing AMCON as a Receiver Manager (in accordance with its 2019 Act as amended) and its designated human nominees (Mr. Kunle Ogunba Esq. SAN) its privies and assigns over the assets of Pan Ocean, their corporate guarantors, cronies and cohorts to take over a number of prime assets of Pan Ocean over some irreconcilable huge debt owed AMCON by both Everest Nominees Limited, Pan Ocean Group and their promoters as well as directors.

The court in suit No. FHC/L/CS/722/20 ordered AMCON and its assigned designate to take over several oil mining and oil prospecting licenses that are exemplified by OML 147 (formerly OPL 275), OML 152 and OML 98 respectively. The order also mandated AMCON to took over the property lying and situate at No. 33b, Adebayo Doherty Street, off Admiralty Way Lekki Phase One in Lagos State as well as the property lying and being specifically known as FF Towers, Plot 13/14 Ligali Ayorinde Avenue, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Others include another property lying and specifically known as No. 8, Modupe Alakija Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos; the property lying and specifically known as No. 10/12, Modupe Alakija Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos christened and identified as Grand Villa; No. 14, Modupe Alakija Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos; another property lying and known as Ark Towers situate at No. 17, Ligalli Ayorinde Avenue, Victoria Island, Lagos as well as Plot 5 and Plot 822, Samuel Manuwa Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Aside these prime assets of the obligors, Justice Liman also ordered AMCON to take over any other assets, businesses, affairs, undertakings, interests etc belonging to the defendants wherever same may be found. He also directed the Inspector-General of Police and his commissioners to assist AMCON and its designates as well as the Court Bailiffs in taking over the assets on behalf of the Corporation.”

Meanwhile, the management of Pan Ocean Oil group has expressed dismay at what it described as an attempted illegal takeover of its properties by AMCON. In a statement released, the firm said on July 2nd, 2020, a team led by Kunle Ogunba, disrupted work activities at two of its facilities under the guise of executing a court order. The firm noted that the action was taken despite a pending lawsuit marked FHC/L/CS/552/2020 which is before the Court of Appeal in Lagos. The statement in part reads

“Our lawyer, Mr. Oluwemimo Ogunde (SAN) had notified Justice Mohammed Liman of a Federal High Court in Lagos, about the pending suit and prayed His Lordship to stay execution of a court order around Pan Ocean’s assets. The attempted takeover of our assets by AMCON and its lawyer is therefore condemnable.

Pan Ocean accessed funding from the banking system to facilitate expansion plans which were based on sound investment advice and projections. The funds were invested in assets which are verifiable and within Nigeria. We remain committed to working with our financial partners to resolve all outstanding issues.”

We are committed to the rule of law and due process and will continue to rely on legal due process to resolve this issues despite the provocation and lawlessness of the party. We call on the leadership of the judiciary and all lovers of democracy and the rule of law to call the erring parties to order.”

 

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USSD: Banks’ Debt To Telcos Hit N17b

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The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has said commercial banks in the country are owing telecommunications companies over N17 billion following the regulator’s suspension of its Determination on Unstructured Supplementary Service Data Pricing last year.

The NCC, in furtherance of its mandate to protect the interests of consumers and support a robust telecommunications sector, recently announced that it had revised the Determination on the USSD.

Speaking at ATCON’s virtual forum on: “Meeting the Interests of Government, Consumers and Telecoms Companies in the Era of Covid-19 and Post Covid-19 Pandemic for Digital Economy Development,” Danbatta noted that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Ali Isa Ibrahim Pantami, had already been briefed on the development with a view to ensuring a quick settlement of the debt.

Explaining the Commission’s efforts at resolving consumer-related issues, he noted that when the Commission introduced the Do-Not-Disturb code in 2015, less than 500,000 people activated the code, but there are now 22,722,366 lines on the DND.

Danbatta further stated that 98 per cent of the total service-related complaints received from telecoms consumers within a 15-month period, spanning January 2019 to April 2020, have been successfully resolved by the Commission.

On quality of service, Danbatta said: “The Commission has monthly engagements with operators as well as quarterly industry working group on Quality of Service and Short Codes, and is currently monitoring 2G Key Performance Indicators, while the KPIs for 4G are being prepared.”

It should be recalled that the NCC in a statement released to the media recently, observed that the amendment to its USSD Determination was necessitated by a protracted dispute between Mobile Network Operators and Financial Institutions on the applicable charges for USSD services and the method of billing.

As a responsive and effective regulatory authority, the Commission said it recognises that its policies are not static and may be modified from time to time as circumstances demand.

According to Danbatta, in the interest of the consumers and other stakeholders, the Commission revised the Determination previously issued by removing the Price Floor and the Cap to allow Mobile Network Operators and the banks negotiate rates that will be mutually beneficial to all parties concerned.

The NCC also determined that Mobile Network Operators must not charge the consumers directly for the use of USSD channels for financial services in the form of end-user-billing, but revert to corporate billing.

The transaction should be between the MNOs and the entity to which the service is provided, that is Banks and Financial Institutions.

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We Are Not Leaving Nigeria, Shoprite Says

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Shoprite Nigeria has come out to debunk the story making the rounds that it intends to close shop in Nigeria.

The Country Director for Chastex Consult, Ini Archibong, in a telephone conversation with Vanguard, said: “Shoprite is not leaving Nigeria.”

“We have only just opened to Nigerian investors which we have also been talking to just before now. We are not leaving, who leaves over a $30billion investment and close shop? It doesn’t sound right.”

“We only just given this opportunity to Nigeria investors to come in and also help drive our expansion plan in Nigeria. So we are not leaving.”

“I have tried to say this as too many people as I can. There should be no panic at all and all of that. There is no truth in that report.”

Recall that reports have been circulating that the retail outlet has started a formal process to consider the potential sale of all or a majority of stake in its supermarkets in Nigeria.

The report said the retailer had struggled in the Nigeria market after some South African owned retailer shops exited the Nigeria market.

The report further stated that Shoprite results for the year do not reflect any of their operations in Nigeria as it will be classified as a discontinued operation.

The report also said international markets excluding Nigeria contributed 11.6 per cent to the group sales and reported 1.4 per cent decline in sales from 2018.

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Shoprite To Leave Nigeria After 15 Years

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South Africa’s grocery retailer Shoprite is leaving Africa’s biggest market, Nigeria, 15 years after it opened shop in the West African country.

The announcement by Shoprite came months after another South African brand, Mr Price, exited the market.

International supermarkets (excluding Nigeria) contributed 11.6% to group sales and reported 1.4% decline in sales from 2018. South African operations contributed 78% of overall sales and saw 8.7% rise for the year.

The company said it has been approached by potential investors willing to take over its Nigerian operations. It said it considering an outright sale of its operation or selling a majority stake in its Nigerian subsidiary.

“As such, Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited may be classified as a discontinued operation,” Shoprite said in a statement on Monday.

In April the supermarket announced it lost 8.1% of its sales in constant currency terms at the end of the second half (H2) of 2019 due to the September xenophobic attacks.

In September, Shoprite stores in Nigeria were vandalised and looted following an alleged xenophobic attack in South Africa, targeting Nigerians.

Owing to fears of further attacks several Shoprite stores across Lagos were sealed and guarded by police.

In the report released in April, the parent company stated that the impact of the store closures and drop in customer count resulted in a difficult half for the company.

Shoprite said the subsequent reduction in customer count during and after the crisis implies that some customers of the supermarkets in Nigeria boycotted the brand.

The difficult half development is not limited to Nigeria alone, as activities in some African nations also created holes in the revenue of Shoprite Holdings, especially the supermarkets out of the shores of South Africa (Non-RSA).

Also, the challenging trading conditions, store closures, load shedding, and currency devaluations in these counties resulted in the company’s furniture division, which includes its Non-RSA business. Due to this, Shoprite’s sale of merchandise dropped by 2.7%, while credit participation increased to 13.7% (2018: 12.5%) of the business’ R3.3 billion sales for the interim period.

However, ShopRite is not the only South African country leaving Nigeria. In June, Mr. Price Group also stated plans to close its Nigerian business to focus on its home market business in South Africa.

The popular affordable clothing, sport, and home wear brand has closed four out of its five Nigerian stores and expects to close the last one in the coming months.

Nigeria is the third country where the company has exited, as it had left Australia and Poland in 2019.

The Durban-based company cited challenges like supply-chain disruptions and challenges in getting funds out of the country as reasons it has struggled to operate in Nigeria.

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