How the UBA boss backstabbed me in Power, Bank deals, Otedola opens up in new twist to Transcorp tussle
Billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola, has disclosed how the Chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA), Tony Elumelu, allegedly backstabbed him in power and bank deals.
Platforms Africa reports that Otedola, in a statement issued on Tuesday, May 9, said he gave Elumelu $20 million (N2 billion) for the acquisition of UBA in 2005 but the latter took over his shares in the bank when he went bankrupt in 2008.
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The renowned businessman said Elumelu, who is the chairman of Transcorp Power Limited, also took over his shares in the Africa Finance Corporation, where he was the largest shareholder in 2018.
He further revealed that he opted out of Transcorp after his bid was rejected, noting that he offered to acquire the power company for N250 billion and take its market capitalisation to N2 trillion.
He added that Elumelu “quietly” outbid him by acquiring Ughelli Power Plant for $300 million after he disclosed to the latter his readiness to go into the power business.
Otedola said: “In 2005, while Tony was the Managing Director of Standard Trust Bank he approached me to get funds to acquire UBA. I enthusiastically gave him $20 million, which was N2 billion at that time to buy the necessary shares in UBA for the acquisition.
“After a short period of time the share price moved up and I decided it is was a good moment to sell and get out of the bank. However, Tony appealed to me to hold on to the shares as he was convinced that there were future prospects – so I kept the shares.
“I became Chairman of Transcorp Hotel in 2007 with a shareholding of 5% and unknowingly Tony gradually started buying shares quietly.
“By the following year in 2008, I went bankrupt in Nigeria. Tony proceeded to take my shares in UBA to service the interest on my loans and he also took over my shares in Africa Finance Corporation, where I was the largest shareholder.
“Shortly after, Albert Okumagba informed me that an American firm wanted to acquire my shares in Transcorp, which I then agreed to sell. However, this supposed American firm turned out to be Tony Elumelu. The revelation of this prompted me to resign as Chairman of the hotel.
“Years later in 2012 Tony said he wanted to see me so we met in my office where I had previously had a meeting with foreign investors who had not yet departed the premises.
“Curious to know, he asked what sort of meeting I had had and I disclosed that I wanted to go into the power business, specifically Ughelli Power Plant. Tony quietly went ahead to bid for Ughelli and he outbidded me by offering to buy the plant for $300 million.
“And as some would say: the rest is history.
“Fast forward to the present…
“I offered to buy Transcorp Plc for N250 billion, but unfortunately, my offer was rejected. My goal was to maximize the company’s potential as a Nigerian conglomerate with a market cap of at least N2 trillion instead of the current N40 billion, but it seems some shareholders have a different vision.”
He further reiterated his belief in healthy competition, saying it is the nature of business.
“As a businessman, I believe in healthy competition and market dynamics. Two captains cannot man a ship, and I respect the majority shareholder’s decision to buy me out. This is the nature of the game.
“But let me be clear: my offer was made with the best intentions for Transcorp Plc and its shareholders. I saw an opportunity to unlock the company’s full potential and create value for everyone involved,” the billionaire businessman stressed.
Otedola added that he was committed to the growth and success of Nigerian businesses “and I will always be looking for ways to create value for all stakeholders”.