24 February 2013

Nigeria: Alscon - Rusal Must Respect S' Court Verdict, Says BFIG

Bancorp Financial Group (BFIG) said it was bent on ensuring that United Company (UC) Rusal, the Russian firm, which currently manages the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON), adheres strictly to the July 6, 2012 directive of the Supreme Court, which ordered the transfer of the company to BFIG.

BFIG's latest determination to oust the Russians followed alleged sustained moves by Rusal to jettison the apex court judgment.

Rusal had since the delivery of the judgment dragged the Federal Government to the International Court of Arbitration in London to challenge the apex court decision.

Moreover, in a clarification circular to its employees, which was signed by its Managing Director Anatoliy Polovov, the management had advised the staff members to disregard the apex court ruling, saying it does not affect the company.

The circular read in part: "The management wishes to give clarification with regard to the ruling of the Supreme Court of Nigeria of July 6, 2012. On July 6, the Supreme Court issued a final ruling in the BFIG/BPE suit. Neither the United Company Rusal, nor ALSCON are parties to this lawsuit. The ruling of Nigeria's Supreme Court neither changes, nor can change the owner of ALSCON."

But the BFIG Chairman Dr. Reuben Jaja told THISDAY that he was determined to frustrate Rusal as well as its fraudulent associates over its blatant disregard of the apex court of Nigeria.

"Consequently and in addition to changing the ownership of ALSCON, we have filed and served Rusal a $2.8 billion law suit for its continuous interference in our contractual relations and prospective business advantage on ALSCON, as well as conspiracy to commit fraud and unfair competition," he told THISDAY on telephone.

"I am determined to accomplish this goal," he added.

Already, the BFIG boss said the company had signed the 58-page Sale Share Purchase Agreement (SSPA) issued it by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) on October 8, last year in a conscious effort to change the owner of ALSCON as affirmed by the apex court. However, the BFIG is also confronted with another tussle on the side of the privatisation agency, which had on January 29, 2013 issued BFIG an Offer to Purchase 77.5% Shares of the Aluminum Shelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) instead of the Aluminum Smelter Company.

BFIG said such offer was in violation to the order and decree of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Moreover, in the initial Share Purchase Agreement and additional information issued by the BPE on October 8, BFIG was asked to pay $250 million for ALSCON.

The agreement was signed and returned to BPE on October 24. But a revised 14-page SPA was issued on January 29 demanding $410 million.

BFIG said it would only honour the initial SPA because it believed it was the original and true price for ALSCON before it was fraudulently sold to Rusal in 2004.

It had also insisted that ALSCON's assets had been 'criminally devalued' by the current management, arguing that the alleged depreciation ought to be considered in the eventual sale price.

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