16 May 2018

Nigeria: Settle Rift With Ansbury, Shareholders Tell Oando

A group of shareholders have called on the management of Oando Plc to settle its lingering dispute with its foreign investor, Ansbury Investments Incorporated.

Ansbury had in September 2017, petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over alleged corporate governance abuse by the management of Oando Plc.

Ansbury, which is a majority shareholder in Ocean and Oil Development (BVI), holds 99 per cent of OODP Nigeria and 56 per cent equity stake in Oando Plc, an entity with dual listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

The petition led to the suspension of Oando shares on both the NSE and the JSE. SEC also ordered a forensic audit of the oil firm. The suspension was lifted last month.

But the group of shareholders, who identified themselves Concerned Oando Shareholders, on Monday, urged the management of the company to open talks with Ansbury Investments with a view to resolving the lingering dispute.

A spokesman of the group, Atobatele Musibau, said "the prolonged media war, protests and unnecessary bickering between the management of Oando and Ansbury is not serving the best interest of shareholders and that of the company."

Musibau added: "These days, Oando is always in the news for the wrong reasons. The negative exposure the company has experienced for almost one year running has a telling effect not just on the shares, but the entire fortune of the company.

"The earlier this matter is resolved the better for the company and its shareholders. Whether the management of Oando likes it or not, this unending war of attrition has impacted and will continue to impact the company negatively.

"The best option open to both parties therefore is dialogue and I believe both sides are matured enough to seat together and resolve areas of conflict and ambiguity in the interest of the company and its shareholders."

The Concerned Oando Shareholders' spokesman said the recovery in oil prices is a sign that the company's fortunes can improve "under the right atmosphere".

He further added: "If the company continues with this undue muscle flexing and grandstanding, it runs the risk of being constantly distracted. It should therefore resolve this matter with Ansbury, which I believe is also a reasonable and responsible company and will be interested in a resolution of the matter.

"One must state that Oando has not recorded any meaningful capital gains, nor has it paid dividend to investors in more than four years. We are therefore the grass that suffers as these two elephants slug it out.

"We therefore call on the management of Oando not to miss out on the golden opportunity provided by the turnaround of the oil industry to improve on the fortunes of shareholders.

"We want to see better returns, capital appreciation of our shares and payment of dividends in the not too distant future. This can only happen, however, if the management resolves all pending rifts to enable it concentrate on running the company."

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