Saturday 13 May 2023

Wasiu Sowami completes acquisition of Ardova Plc, pays $19m to Femi Otedola

Ardova has maintained her market position post-acquisition and is now undoubtedly Nigeria’s largest downstream petroleum marketing company

AbdulWasiu Sowami, chairman of Ardova Plc, has completed the acquisition of the oil company from fellow Nigerian billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola

The chairman has also settled a $19 million arbitration ruled in favour of the billionaire, according to ThisDay reports.

Mr Sowami acquired the company through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) -Ignite Investment and Commercial Limited (IICL) in 2020.

Although, a report alleged that Sowami had instituted arbitration proceedings seeking to avoid the payment of the balance of $20 million due to Otedola following his acquisition of Ardova in 2020.

However, the arbitration ruled in favour of Otedola with the award of $19 million against Sowami.

“The good news is that following several payments in instalments. Wasiu has completed the payment of the arbitrary award, net of certain deductions ahead of the June 2023 deadline. The total payment of the balance is, in the sum of $19 million approximately, thus completing the acquisition.”

An investigation revealed that Ignite Investments and Commercial Limited in the 2021 financial year of Ardova had 970,666,694 shares with 74.06 per cent Holding. The company in its unaudited financial year ended December 31, 2022 declared N7.61 billion loss as against N3.85 billion loss reported in the 2021 financial year amid a hike in the cost of sales and finance costs.

Ardova reported N5.05 billion finance cost in 2022, an increase of 41 per cent from N3.58billion in 2021FY, while cost of sales hits N226.9billion in 2022 unaudited, a growth of 18.4 per cent from N191.59billion reported in 2021. Ardova, formerly Forte Plc, a company Otedola successfully turned around through, strong leadership, and immense value accretion by consistently increasing her market capital, shareholder’s funds and dividend payment in folds for over a decade.

It was this value accretion that made Ardova market leader, pre and post-acquisition. Otedola was however delighted that Ardova has maintained her market position post-acquisition and is now undoubtedly Nigeria’s largest downstream petroleum marketing company.

However, the name, Wasiu Sowami, made a grand entry into the ears of many Nigerians a couple of years ago when he was announced as the man behind Prudent Energy & Services Limited, which acquired Femi Otedola’s divested shares in Forte Oil. “Who is Wasiu Sowami?” became an assignment to be unravelled by the media and the business society which had no clue who this supposedly greenhorn was.

It has been a winning season for Otedola whose audacious bid to acquire majority stake in Nigerian conglomerate, Transnational Corporation Plc, for N250bn with a view to shoring up its valuation to N2 trillion, was truncated by his supposed friend, Tony Elumelu.

Days after increasing his substantial shareholding to 6.3 per cent, a haul of 2.6 billion shares bought in separate transactions, Otedola divested his stake in Transcorp to Tony Elumelu, therefore pulling the plug on the scramble for the top ownership of the group.

Earlier, within days of his acquisition of a substantial shareholding, Mr Elumelu had racked up his interest from 2.07 to 25.9 per cent.

Transcorp shares, which had gained 173 per cent from the start of the year, slumped 9.9 per cent on the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) in Lagos.

Otedola’s move to take the peak spot in the conglomerate’s ownership upset the Elumelu, prompting him to open talks. Elumelu eventually agreed to compensate the businessman with millions of dollars, according to sources.


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