Hello Nigerians, happy new month to you and welcome to this week’s edition of the Rebrand Nigeria Champions Series!
Our champion for this edition is Femi Otedola, a successful businessman, philanthropist, and former chairman of Forte Oil PLC, an importer of fuel products.
Growing up in Lagos, Otedola had an intense passion for priesthood and wanted to study at a seminary school so as to become a priest in the future. Although Otedola was inclined to venture into priesthood, he could not give up his flair for business.
Regarding Femi Otedola’s education background, he attended the University of Lagos staff school and later proceeded to Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Osun State where he acquired his first degree in 1985.
By the time Otedola was aged 6 in primary school, he started a business called FEMCO. The business involved carrying out manicure and pedicure for his parent’s guest after which he issues out a receipt to his customers and charges them for the job done.
Shortly after Otedola enrolled at Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, he started work as marketing personnel for his family’s printing business. Working in the printing business exposed him to a great deal of business strategy.
Having acquired some skills in executing a successful business, Otedola ventured into oil and gas business which gave him different opportunities to be able to expand his business and led him to establish Zenon petroleum oil and gas limited in 2003.
Zenon Petroleum Oil and Gas limited made a lot of financial proceedings and income for Otedola as it distributes fuel to large manufacturing industries in Nigeria. Otedola also acquired other business ventures and created new companies not too long after establishing his Zenon petroleum oil and gas limited.
As owner and chairman of Zenon, in 2004 he invested N15 billion in downstream infrastructure development and acquired storage depots at Ibafon, Apapa as well as four cargo vessels, amounting to a combined total storage capacity of 147,000 metric tonnes. The same year he acquired a fleet of 100 DAF fuel-tanker trucks for N1.4 billion.
By 2005, Zenon controlled a major share of the Nigerian diesel market, supplying fuel to most of the major manufacturers in the country including Dangote, Nigerian Breweries and MTN.
In March 2007, it was announced that ten banks had approved a syndicated loan of US$1.5 billion (N193.5 billion) to Zenon as working capital to build the largest premium motor spirit storage facility in Africa. Later that year Zenon acquired a 28.7 per cent stake in African Petroleum, one of Nigeria’s largest fuel marketers. Zenon also invested across the financial sector, becoming the largest shareholder in a number of Nigerian banks including Zenith Bank and Union Bank of Africa(UBA). As well as diesel, Zenon also became an important player in the kerosene market.
In 2007, Otedola was appointed chairman and chief executive of Africa Petroleum through the acquisition of a controlling stake in the business. In December that year he personally acquired a further 29.3 per cent of the company for N40 billion. A merger of this personal holding with Zenon brought Otedola’s total stake to 55.3 percent.
Following Otedola’s entry into the company, African Petroleum’s share price rose sharply, increasing the market capitalisation from N36 billion to N217 billion in six months
In March 2009, Otedola became the second Nigerian after Aliko Dangote to appear on the Forbes List of dollar-denominated billionaires, with an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion. In October 2009, Otedola announced a move to upgrade African Petroleum’s liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage terminals in Lagos, Kano and Portharcourt. Difficult economic conditions caused by the slump in world oil prices and credit squeeze of 2008–09 led African Petroleum to record a loss in 2009.
In December 2010, African Petroleum rebranded, changing its name toForte Oil PLC. Otedola carried out a restructuring of the business, focusing on technology and improved corporate governance. Forte Oil returned to profit in 2012.
In 2013, as part of the Federal Government’s push to liberalise Nigeria’s ailing power sector, Otedola financed 57% of Forte Oil subsidiary Amperion Ltd, which acquired the 414 MW Geregu Power Plant for $132 million.
Forte’s improved financial position and diversification into power generation resulted in a 1,321 per cent rise in its share price during 2013. The first half of 2014 saw the company’s pre-tax profit more than double year-on-year to 4.19 billion naira ($25.7 million). Revenue growth for the whole year was 33 per cent. In November 2014, Otedola returned to the Forbes rich list having dropped off it following the fall in share price during 2009.
In September 2015 Forte Oil sold 17 per cent of its equity to Swiss commodity trader Mercuria energy group, giving Forte access to global commodity markets. The deal was thought to have given Otedola an estimated $200 million.
In 2019, Femi Otedola sold Forte Oil Plc and announced plans to change focus from oil to power with his company, Geregu Power Plc.
Otedola is a philanthropist and has made several millions of donations to the humanitarian and developmental efforts in Nigeria.
Many thanks for staying with us this week.
God bless Nigeria!