Oando has revealed that it has addressed issues raised by its main shareholder, Dahiru Mangal, ending a long drawn conflict, as it considers appointing one of his representatives to its board. Mangal, who owns more than 10 percent of Oando’s shares, petitioned Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2017, alleging financial mismanagement at the firm.
The Commission ordered a forensic audit into the oil company’s shareholding structure, citing concerns about possible foul play which does not augur well for a company controlled by shareholders with a board. The conflict led to the suspension of Oando’s shares on the Lagos and Johannesburg stock exchanges. They have been suspended at 5.99 naira each for more than three months. Mangal noted that, after receiving clarifications from Oando’s management, he had no choice than to withdraw his petition to SEC.
However, a spokesperson for Oando made it clear that SEC has not given its nod whether it would call off the audit since the dispute with Mangal had been resolved, adding that a second petition from an indirect shareholder was still pending with the regulator.
Ansbury, an investment vehicle with an indirect shareholding in Oando, had also filed a petition with the SEC alleging abuse of corporate governance and financial mismanagement.
Besides, the company was focusing on settling remaining disputes. “In 2018 we are trying to resolve all issues so that we focus on running the business and get our share price lifted. The price of oil is going back up and this needs to be reflected on our share price.”
Oando has sold off some assets in the downstream sector and is focusing on businesses that generate dollars, adding that the firm has paid over half its debt since it bought ConocoPhillips’ Nigerian assets in 2014 to 209 billion naira ($685 mln) as of the third quarter of 2017.
The settlement with Mangal was reached through a mediation by the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, a former Central Bank Governor, a revered monarch.
In October 2017, the SEC said it had carried out a comprehensive review of Oando after it received the petitions and found related party transactions were not conducted at arm’s length and that there were discrepancies in its ownership structure.
The Commission stated that a team of auditors, lawyers, stockbrokers and share registrars would conduct a forensic audit on Oando to ensure independence. Auditors had not contacted Oando but the company has been providing information to the SEC.
A company source disclosed that last year the petitions centered on the ownership of some Oando shares bought through an investment vehicle at the time the company bought ConocoPhillips’ Nigerian business for $1.65 billion in 2014.
Oando made the acquisition to add oil exploration and production to its petroleum product retailing businesses. But high financing costs coupled with lower oil prices hit affected its profit including high exchange rates.