Ogun State Land Scare! Government Blackmails Estate Developers, Land Owners

Volume II, Issue 20

Volume II, Issue 20

Last Monday, 8 June, 2009, the Ogun State Bureau of Lands and Survey, under the insignia of the State Government, had caused the publication of what it described as a “Final Warning” ostensibly directing the attention of individuals and corporate bodies to activities of estate developers and promoters in about 14 locations in the state where real estate development seems to be intense. The Bureau of Lands and Survey described the activities of the estate developers as illegal.

The second of such publication in two weeks, the last of the same half page public notice, did get the attention of the target population it was intended for; a hail of panic seized the community of estate developers and subscribers to the former virgin lands belonging to Ogun State but which have found new attraction in value because of their proximity to Lagos State. As affected estate developers became restless, so were subscribers, they became distressed. (Read More)

BGL still upset with underwriting AIT, Honeywell public offers

It is just as well that the Securities and Exchange Commission has decided to adopt the recommendation of the Oladotun Sulaiman’s Nigeria Capital Market Reform Committee on the reversal of compulsory underwriting of public offerings.

BGL Securities Limited, one of Nigeria’s lead issuing houses and brokerage firms, is said to still be smarting from the downside effect of underwriting two public offerings last year. BGL Securities was part of the underwriters of the public offering of Daar Communications and Honeywell.

Others –

Losses, Debts Force Sale of Zain

Transcorp To Lose Hilton Hotel, Abuja

TRANSGLOBE BECOMES MOST SUSPENDED STOCKBROKING FIRM IN THE CAPITAL MARKET

DG, SEC

DG, SEC

Apex capital market regulatory body, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may suspend Transglobe Investment and Finance Company Limited (Transglobe) indefinitely over unethical practices.

According to a report by Proshare NI, a source made this affirmation to one of its reporters last week.

“SEC would suspend Transglobe over unwholesome practices,” the source reportedly said.

The source further affirmed that the suspension maybe indefinite and would take effect from sometimes next week; after an all parties meeting in Abuja, Nigeria.

It has been reviewed that a lot has gone wrong with the dealing firm under the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

Transglobe has been found to be illegally trading on shares of most of its clients, including a high profile client through the relationship its General Manager and acting MD/CEO had with a director of a multinational cooperative.

A letter signed by E.A Okolo on behalf of Musa Al-Faki, Director General (DG) of the Commission to the Cooperative and made available to Proshare NI; shows that SEC is currently investigating a case of fraud and misappropriation of funds belonging to the Cooperative of the multi national company by Transglobe.

The letter which was dated February 04, 2009 with reference number SEC/M & I/INVGT/MISC277/09 states that the SEC is currently investigating the case and in order to resolve the issues, has invited the Cooperative to an all parties meeting to be held at SEC’s Head Office on Thursday February 12 2009.

This issue has been raging on close to seven months now; which led to the suspension of Joseph Okolie and Sunny Ameh, acting Managing Director/CEO and General Manager (GM) respectively of Transglobe. It will be recalled that a case of Fraudulent conduct was delivered against the former MD/CEO: Mr. Wilberforce Onwuka.

SEC had on behalf of 31 complainants handed over Onwuka to the EFCC at the end of a hearing involving Transglobe because almost all of the 31 complaints against the company originated during his tenure as an officer of the company and occurred with his personal knowledge.

Currently, It has been affirmed that the firm owes billions of Naira; while its former Management in collaboration with some banks and fund managers made billions of Naira as well through share manipulations and financial engineering…especially on their transactions related to Geofluids Nigeria Limited.

This is coming on the heels of the resignation of two management members of the firm on the grounds of integrity concerns and interference by the Board of Transglobe and its former suspended management members of Joseph Okolie and Sunny Ameh. These members, we understand, are supervised by Mr. Sunny Obidiegwu, supervisory director and cousin of the chairman of the board, Nze Madako.

Prior to this time, the NSE had suspended Transglobe mid-2008 over infractions against its clients which include issuing of dud cheques, purchase of shares with clients’ funds in their names and not in the names of the clients; unbundling of shares purchased in the name of client not credited to the Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) account but sold through contract notes.

The non-crediting of clients’ shares to its CSCS accounts; the use of funds provided for the purchase of shares for the cooperative, which was alleged not bought or/and unalloted, but for which bonus shares have been discovered in a separate CSCS account.

The use of clients’ funds as lien using fake seals and letter heads of the clients to procure facilities and non-verification of shares certificates of clients’ accounts.

As at the time of filing in this report, Proshare NI could not clarify the true status of the matter when it contacted Lanre Oloyi, Head, Media of the Commission. “I cannot confirm this issue at this moment due to an all parties meeting that has been scheduled,” he said.

IS THE PRESIDENCY STILL ON VACATION?

It is no longer news that the problem Nigeria is having and may continue to haunt her has to do with lack of a functional plan or not planning at all or both. Either way, the fact remains that we need to do some re-think by way of seeing to it that we have a functional plan in place, a plan that we allow businesses to key in into activities with less disruptions and or distortions. A plan that will ensure stable prices and sound projections, with the Nigerian business operating in a near certain environment that is commerce friendly.

The envisaged plan should also take note of state tardiness and pump live into official activities with purpose and focus on what will benefit Nigeria and aid development.

Therefore, in this new year, we should spare some time to reflect on our past, reviewed against our present to shape our future as made popular by the late reggae artist ‘Peter Tosh’ in one of his works titled ‘Equal Rights’, in a lyric that states thus…“I reflect in the past, live in the present but working for the future…“. I propose this approach because Nigeria is notorious for not learning from experience.

The basic management tools that encourages review or auditing or appraisal of activities periodically is only in our consciousness to fulfil all righteousness. Beyond that it must be the way it has been, chaotic, dis-organized and sometimes, very violent and confusing. This way, records would have been compromised, and rules abridged so that accountability will suffer.

Painfully to the generality of the public, and to the benefit of a few who created the confusion, set goals and objective cannot be appraised and measured because the tools to do that has been corrupted and violated all because there was no plan in place at the out set.

The need for this reflection is ever present with us and is now more urgent and necessary than ever given the signals emanating from the direction of the ‘institutions’ that should show the lead and the way the nations’ economic activities should go.

Sadly, the national assembly always not sure of what to do next, may be, because they do not understand their briefs, probably by default or share ignorance, are yet to pass the 2009 budget. It is normal in Nigeria, even when in more than nine years of democratic practise; we are yet to come to terms on the necessity of being orderly. Imagine the senate president suggesting that by 2011, we would have ‘learn’ the act of passing the budget well’ on good time. No problem.

For a nation that has substituted an annual budget for a national plan not much should be expected and you cannot blame the senate president for displaying crass ignorance. It is just that the man has stayed a little more than two terms for a formal degree in a university on the average, yet he is asking for more time to have a resit? And this character is one of the key functionaries who are to give Nigeria an enabling environment for good business by way of laws that tallies with international standard.

Even the budget as presented has once again exposed our readiness to help other economies grow at our own expense. The small and medium sector of the economy received a good measure of neglect by way of protecting imports to local production. No thanks to the complete absence of any concrete serious plan to tackle the energy sector which should have reduced cost of production and conserve foreign reserve from the importation of petroleum products albeit shamefully though. Nor are the authorities bothered on the future health implications of having to run generating sets noted for pollutants. See the ‘Owerri” deaths. Our roads are where madam Dezani met them and may not even receive attention beyond the annual ritual of constructing the roads on paper at Abuja.

The presidency is still on vacation. Can we have some speed? Can we just for Gods sake change our time worn strategy? Please, we need it. And now too.

ANOTHER FIT OF RANTING AT OFFICIAL INANITIES OF 2008

ULD by ol’Victor Ojelabi

No year had compared with the cataclysmic datelines in economic history since the great depression until the year 2008 came along. Global economic growth had skyrocketed over the last 20 years engendering a new measure of comfort and access to luxury as the population of the wealthy ballooned by the day. By the end of the first quarter of 2008, the stock market in Nigeria and those across the world had recorded mirthful growth, that the Nigerian bourse was rated the highest most profitable stock exchange in terms of returns on investment in the emerging market segment this is just as other investors around the world celebrated returns on their investment.

But by the beginning of the second quarter of the year, economic metrics started showing stressful signs of falling decimals on the statistics of economic performance measurement, this, soon engulfed news emerging from all sectors of the economies across the globe. Nigeria had capitulated even before the formal announcement of the global financial meltdown; the nation’s institutional regulators had frantically talked our stock market into a crisis, obviously, since non of these regulators were instrumental to the buoyancy of activities in the market either by deliberate planning or policy thrusts, they can’t, even up till now, fathom why the market took a dive from pronouncements that they apparently considered innocuous.

It is an enduring hall mark of the profligate characterization of the managements of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Securities and Exchange Commission and the Nigerian Stock Exchange that they still explain away the N3.2trillion lost to investors lose of confidence in the market as mere market correction. These institutions responsible for the state of health of the Nigerian Stock Exchange decidedly got inebriated with the unplanned success of the Exchange and having a lack of the knowledge of the growth trajectory of the Exchange they riotously claimed right of proprietary authority over the Exchange resulting in regulatory agencies brick bats that added to scaring investors in the country: A CBN outlawing margin loans by commercial banks, a SEC increasing by more than 1000 per cent the capital base of stock brokers, and an NSE that encouraged white collar daylight robbery by allowing dead companies to trade and did not see the need to investigate the moribund stocks when their prices galloped into the north by more than 5,000 percentage point. When the reality dawned on gullible investors, the stock market became an atrocious platform for losing money for eternity. Simple, no hope of recovering lost investments.

This is the sorry commentary on the nation’s stock exchange, unfortunately, the larger macro economics is the worst for it. Again, finance ministry officials and their alter egos in the CBN, those, who, up till this moment, cannot provide in logical sequence, reasons crude oil price shot to a high of $148 before its sudden dive for the dirt as last year prepared its curtains down, are busy in reassuring the nation that it would not be affected in the consequence of the global financial meltdown.

In an import dependent country where even toothpicks are imported into the economy, is it not logical that all the malignancies that diseased the exporting economies from which we import our goods and services are certainly imported into the country. The naira had since crashed against the benchmark dollar in the foreign exchange market; crude oil price is yet to settle at its economic natural point on the downward drive in the face of present realities and the nation profiles an infrastructure deficit that threatens to kill off any wealth sustaining or creating initiative. Yet the experts in Abuja talk flippantly of a national economic that can withstand the onslaught of the consequences of the global financial meltdown. Noting can be more rubbish.

It all adds up to a year that once again underscores the deficient capacity for planning and projection by Nigerian officials. If this limitation is restricted to plannessness perhaps we could have found succor in the fact that all the needed to be done to rehabilitate our ramshackle economic thinking space is to provide officials the incentives appropriate to thinking for tomorrow. Unfortunately, this won’t change anything, government officials have turned economic initiatives and policy thrusts into glib political maneuvers as if the business community has become object of conquest. This was very much underscored when the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, after denying any inappropriate policy resulting in the crashing naira for upward three weeks was forced to confess to members of the House of Assembly that were concerned enough about the turbulent engagement of the economy that they invited the governor to come and explain the direction of his monetary policies. The Professor of Economics had tongue in cheek told the House of Representatives panel that it was a deliberate policy of the CBN to let the naira depreciate.

Sadly, because Nigerians have become so shell-shocked to inanities of government and its officials nobody picked bones with the CBN Governor. In other more decent climes, the CBN Governor would have been asked to resign his office. Is it not reasonable for the purpose of planning and budgeting both by policy makers in the public and private sectors for the CBN to release a public statement informing the country of the CBN’s intension to allow the naira to depreciate and give a minimum two weeks notice. This would allow decision makers to know to plan and have an implementation procedure in response to the planned currency depreciation.

Rather, the CBN let loose the depreciation as if it was a war strategy on the business community. Really bad. Would things change in 2009? Hardly, despite President Umar Musa YarAdua’s commitment to realizing the potential of Nigeria in the New Year through the empanelling of a new federal cabinet, the fact of the matter is simply about lack of quality consciousness and sense of responsibility of government officials to Nigerians and project Nigeria. When other countries are engaged in strenuous efforts to rescue their economies, there is no outward sign by government in Nigeria of a serious effort to salvage an economy that may be inexorably headed for the sewage.

As published in the January 11th Edition, Issue 49, Vol 1.

MIXED FEELINGS OVER JIMOH IBRAHIM’s NATIONAL HONOUR

The intention of the Federal Government to honour controversial lawyer cum businessman, has come under heavy criticism by Nigerians.

It is being echoed that Ibrahim’s lifestyle and his debt ridden business status alongside other controversial and unresolved issues, do not present him as the best worthy to be honoured.

The belief is rife that Ibrahim is nominated for this award because he was a ready catalyst to discredit the Obasanjo administration as well as be positioned as ‘government friendly business ally.’

A few, however, consider him most suitable for this honour, as one from humble background who shook off the mud to be considered relevant for courting by banks, who have strongly backed virtually all his initiatives financially.

Another vital factor is the age advantage. In his early 40’s, he has embarked on gargantuan projects in the nine figure range.

His investments span hospitality, insurance, oil and gas, human capital development, real estate, etc.

…ACQUIRES 500POUNDS HOTEL IN LONDON

Words filtering in as at press time reveal that Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim is on a spending spree once again. He is said to be on the verge of acquiring Cumberland Hotel, Central London, in the United Kingdom. Details are still sketchy, but his business history shows his flair for hospitality business.

Prior to this Cumberland Hotel purchase, he has in his kitty Nicon Hotel, Ajuba, Hilton Hotel, Lagos, among others.

It is yet to be clarified which financial institutions provided the back up for the acquisition of the said hotel.

FINANCIALBRIDGE: HOW TO DO BUSINESS WITH THE AMERICAN INVESTMENT COMPANY THAT FACILITATES OFFSHORE FUNDING FOR NIGERIAN BUSINESSES

When Patrick Fournie, Senior Advisor with FinancialBridge, Inc. made his presentation on the “Private Ownership of Modular Refineries in Nigeria: The New Trend in Building Petroleum Refining Capacity: The Financialbridge Experience” at a seminar organized by the Energy Industry Development Initiative at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos State, this past Tuesday, 11 November, 2008, seminar participants listened with rapt attention.

Fournie presentation, was for the Nigerian and other foreign participants at the seminar, a revelation of a new vista in financing strategies on the pivot of offshore financing, he informed the seminar of how FinancialBridge is facilitating funding for a Pharmaceutical Project in Abuja, at a cost of $12.2 million and an aluminum roofing sheet & allied project at Onna in Akwa Ibom State at a cost of $6.6million. FinancialBridge, he said, is also involved in funding for an amusement park project at Isheri, Ogun State, at a projected cost of $22.3 Million, a pit quarry mining project at Oyebiyi, Oyo State at a projected cost of $7.5 million and a 5-Star luxury hotel in Abuja at a projected cost of $55.8 million.

Other projects FinancialBridge had been engaged to facilitate funding for by Nigerian entrepreneurs are the phase one of the 12,000Barrels per day modular refinery project at Eket in Akwa Ibom State at a cost of $43.7 million and the 12,000Barrels Per Day modular refinery project at Kolo Creek in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State at a projected cost of $121.3 million. A $197.5 million 18,000Barrels Per Day modular refinery project in Edo State is also one of the projects FinancialBridge is facilitating offshore funding for.

Fournie who flew into Nigeria to make further revealed how his company had structured funding and project implementation procedures for the soon to be streamed 12,000 Barrels Per Day Amakpe Refinery Project at Ikot Usekong – Eket in Akwa Ibom State and the Rehoboth Refinery, also a 12,000 Barrels Per Day Refinery Project in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

Fournie, who, on behalf of Financialbridge, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) appointing Energy Industry Development Initiative as its representative in Nigeria, explained that FinancialBridge is an export finance and business credit consulting firm:

“We work with U.S. and international financial institutions to provide innovative funding solutions to private companies and government agencies, including: export trade finance, project finance, public sector financing and export working capital. We are also involved in equity financing and facilitation of bridging loans” Fournie said.

“We cooperate with Project Implementation and Management Companies in ensuring effective utilization of procured funds for successful planning and execution of related projects and trade transactions.”

Highlighting its primary sources of export funding in the United States financial market, Fournie said his company’s sources include: Export-Import Bank of the United States (U.S. Ex-Im), Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Export Finance Banks and Credit Insurance Companies, among others:

“Ex-Im Bank is the official Export-Credit Agency of the United States that helps create and maintain U.S. jobs by financing the sale of U.S. Exports, primarily to emerging markets throughout the world. Ex-Im Bank provides Loan Guarantees, Export-Credit Insurance and Direct Loans, in fiscal year 2007, Ex-Im Bank authorized $12.6 billion in financing to support an estimated $16 billion of U.S. exports worldwide.” Fournie said.

Perhaps, of importance to Nigerian entrepreneurs, is the revelation by Fournie that the Ex- Im Bank has approved a $1.0 billion facility to guarantee Nigerian Projects (of which $800 million is still available) despite the global financial melt down.

Explaining the process for securing offshore funding for projects in Nigeria, Fournie said:

“Under the Ex-Im Bank Guarantee Program, the Promoter is required to provide Statutory Equity Contribution of 15% of U.S. Cost Content, while the U.S. Lender funds 85% of the U.S. Cost Content utilizing the Comprehensive Credit Guarantee of Ex-Im Bank. The Project Promoter is further required to provide Local Bank Guarantee to support the 85% portion of the U.S. Loan as well as finance local In-Country Costs requirements within the overall Project Cost.The U.S. Ex-Im Guaranteed Loans have Medium Term Tenure of 5 to 7 years at Interest Rates of +/- 2% above Six Months Floating LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate).

Some of the projects funding prospects of FinancialBridge include Oil and Gas (Modular Oil Refineries, Gas Gathering & Processing Plants, Downstream Petrochemical Projects, Pipelines, etc.), Energy (Gas Turbines and Diesel Powered Plants), Communications (Wireless VSAT Network VoIP Telephone, Fax, High Speed Broadband Internet Systems, Cable TV, etc.) and Solid Mineral (Quarrying & Processing).

Other funding prospects are: Manufacturing and Assembly (Small and Medium Scale Plants), Construction (Pre-engineered Buildings & Facilities, Stadiums & Arenas, Industrial Parks, etc.) Agro-Business (Farming & Food Processing), Medical (Pharmaceutical Projects, Supplies & Clinics), Tourism (Amusement Parks, Hotels/Resorts, etc) and Aviation (Used & New Passenger & Cargo Aircrafts, Helicopters, Airport Development & Expansion, Avionics & Spare Parts, etc.)

Highlighting the milestones already attained with the 12,000 Barrels Per Day (BPD) Amakpe Refinery as a case study, Fournie said:

“The Amakpe Refinery is being implemented in two phases, with Phase 1 – 6000BPD Refinery Plant originally estimated to cost about $36.5 million and now revised to cost $43.7 million, including Escalation, and revised Field Erection Costs. Construction of 12KM Dual Steel Pipeline connecting Exxon/Mobile QIT and Amakpe Tank Farm is estimated at $10 million of Additional Cost. The Project is expected to start production by October 2009. Out of the current revised Project cost of $43.7 million, $26.2 million has been expended while $17.5 million is outstanding to complete full funding of the Project.

“UPS Capital/Ex-Im Bank Loan of $10.3 milion is being disbursed to Ventech, based on P&M Construction Progress Payment while Amakpe Refinery has fully paid required statutory Equity Contribution and continues to pay the Counterpart Funds. Akwa Ibom State Government Investment of $8.5 million has also been applied to the Project

“As at June 27, 2008, Ventech achieved 50% Mechanical Completion of the Refinery Plants and Machinery Fabrication, which was certified by visiting representatives of the Department of Petroleum Resources, including Mr. M.D.B. Ladan-Head Downstream, Mr. O.A. Adeleke- Assistant Director, Dr. D.M.E. Eradiri- Chief Environmental Officer, Mr. Oyedele Sangobowale and Mr. Hussaini Basaka-Site Representatives. Based on this development, Amakpe Refinery has qualified to receive $1.2million Security Deposit earlier paid to DPR as a requirement for revalidation of related Refinery Construction License.

“Sterling Bank has approved additional $9.3 million Loan Facility for the Project. Amakpe Refinery is planning to issue 15,000,000 Shares of Common Stock of the Company for sale to Private Investors. The Private Placement is being packaged by Financialbridge and Sterling Bank for issuance by Sterling Capital Markets (Issuing House).

To start -up the process of obtaining required funding, a Company is required to retain the services of Financialbridge which will develop a Bankable Business Plan that will satisfy U.S. Export Financial Market requirements and procure the Project Loan.

The retainership will further cover service coordination of Project Loan Packaging and Procurement that will involve the Borrower and the U.S. Lender. The U.S. Lender will underwrite the submitted statutory documentation leading to Loan approval, following which the Lender will request the U.S. Ex-Im Bank for issuance of Political Risk and Medium-Term Insurance/ Comprehensive Credit Guarantee before disbursement of related Loan. The process of underwriting the Loan through approval and disbursement could be concluded within 45-90 days after the U.S. Lender receives the complete statutory documentation as outlined.

Financialbridge be responsible in carrying out tasks that will result in the successful procurement of U.S. Loan for the implementation of the project which include: Conduct of Feasibility Study and preparation of Bankable Business Plan that will satisfy U.S. Export Financial Market requirements. The Business Plan will be concluded within 30-45 days from receipt of Engagement Fee, Data from Market Research as well as Borrowers information. The draft of the Business Plan will be forwarded to the Company for approval and possible input before production of final Document.

FinancialBridge also processes Due Diligence, Approval and Disbursement of Project Loan within 45-90 days of the U.S. Financial Institutions receiving and underwriting complete statutory documentation from the Nigerian company.

If required, Financialbridge can also be engaged to Package and Instrument Private Placement of Shares of Common Stock of the company to raise additional funds through Private Equity Investment, utilizing a local Nigerian Bank as Issuing House.

The Funds raised through the Private Placement could be applied to fund Local Project Site Development and In-Country Costs as well as required Equity Contribution, etc.

The Nigerian company shall be responsible for the following within the requirements for successful Loan Procurement, including: Obtaining Nigerian Bank Guarantee for 85% or 75% of the total U.S. Loan amount to fund the Project, depending on the Ex-Im Bank or OPIC requirement.

Securing all required Permits and Licenses from Nigerian Regulatory Authorities, submission of three years audited financial statements of the Nigerian bank as certified by a renowned accounting firm. Provision of Equity Contribution of 15% of total U.S. costs content within the overall Project cost for U.S. Ex-Im Bank Guaranteed Loan to be added to 85% of total U.S. cost content as Loan, or 25% as statutory Equity contribution of total Project

Confirming Energy Industry Development Initiative’s (EIDI) relationship with FinancialBridge, the organisation’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Tom Obaseki said FinancialBridge has already shown interest in facilitating funding for some project ideas it had forwarded to FinancialBridge.

“As we speak, we have forwarded project proposals for the establishment of 5-7 MMSCFD Modular Gas Gathering, LPG and Lean Gas Production Plant in Nigeria, the establishment of Integrated 55MW Power Plant, Natural Gas Gathering and LPG Processing Project in Nigeria and for Development of Pre-engineered Medical Clinic & Diagnostic Centers, Pharmaceutical Project and Customized Medical Trailers & Boat Clinics, complete with Outreach Medical Technicians Training Support.” Obaseki explained.