MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
Piqued by what has been described as the “mischievousness of some disgruntled persons,” another group of shareholders of Seplat Energy has warned such detractors to stop their senseless attack on the company and its management.
A press statement issued on behalf of the group known as Concerned Shareholders of Seplat Energy by the trio of Messrs Adetunji B. Ajani, Adekanmbi David and Ademola Timothy Adejuwon on Thursday, said: “our attention has been drawn to a news story published in ThisDay Newspaper edition of Monday 7th of July 2023 alleging among others, likely impropriety on the part of the Management of Seplat in its application of General Expenses.
“Few other publications and news platforms sadly gave vent to the said news story that emanated from a joint press conference by two amorphous groups; the Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN) and Make A Difference Initiative (MADI) led by Messrs. Moses Igbrude and Lemmy Ughegbe, both of whom are believed to be working at the behest of forces determined to unjustly bring Seplat Energy to its knees.
“We wish to state unequivocally that the allegations are strewn in half-truths, largely fabricated and maliciously projected to diminish the stature of Seplat Energy and tarnish the image of its officials. If anything, the unfounded allegations depict blatant ignorance of financial management. As Concerned Shareholders of Seplat Energy, we are unfazed by the orchestrated ceaseless attacks on Seplat Energy by both Igbrude and Ughegbe and a handful of misguided minority shareholders of Seplat Energy.
“It is on record that this spate of unfounded campaigns of calumny, which resorted to a series of lawsuits and undue public attention that Seplat was subjected to in the last few months are capable of negatively affecting our investments and invariably returns. We hereby call on all well-meaning Nigerians to call the architect of this confusion and malignment of the company to order.
“In the said publication, the two groups ISAN and MADI, united in their unholy quest to demonize Seplat Energy to no end, were unhindered in casting aspersion on the management of the company and rehashing their old swan songs that led to the lawsuits which they instituted against the company, most of the cases have either been withdrawn or thrown out by the court.
“Their latest resort to a campaign of calumny in the media is the antics of drowning men who prefer to rule in hell than to serve in heaven.
“A cursory glance at the publication depicts the contradiction of Moses Igbrude querying the expense and making a vain demand that Seplat Energy and its Chief Executive Officer have some explanation to make. This is the same Igbrude who was behind the series of ill-motivated lawsuits instituted against the company and its officials. The claim by Igbrude and his sponsors that it was abnormal for Seplat to spend $19.4 million on legal fees is pathetic. Also pathetic and indeed pitiable is the feeble attempt to put the Nigerian Immigration Service and Seplat Energy on a collision course.
“As Concerned Shareholders of Seplat, we will no longer sit by and watch our company and its Management which we hold in high esteem come under constant attack especially when the allegations, instigated by some self-serving interests, are bereft of truth and are outrightly false. We make bold to say that as representatives of some majority shareholders, we will not allow a coterie of 13 minority shareholders holding less than 800 shares out of 589m shares (0.0001% of the company’s issued shares to succeed in their plot to smear or bring down the reputation of a company that is doing Nigeria proud in all ramifications.
“It is evident that shareholders of Seplat have consistently enjoyed high dividend payouts while capital appreciation on our stocks has been largely phenomenal, a reflection and testament to the management’s capability, market confidence, bright future, and sustained progress of the company. We, therefore, use this opportunity to reconfirm our support for the leadership of Seplat ably led by Mr. Roger Brown. We urge them not to be distracted but to continue the good work.
“We believe that no genuine investor in his normal sense will do anything that can bring down the fortune of a company that he has investments in, and this calls to question the motives of those behind the incessant accusations and relentless attacks on the company in the last few months.
“The Nigerian investment community should also show more interest in the shenanigans of Igbrude and caution him because if this type of behavior is not checked, it will affect Nigeria’s investment drive and Foreign Direct Investments to support the Nigerian economy. Seplat has no doubt been a worthy study of a successful dual-listed company doing Nigeria proud and a point of positive reference for the country.
“It is an affirmation of the sterling quality of Seplat’s management to have remained focused in the heat of needless lawsuits and still post good returns in the half-year results that ended 2023. The company’s half-year results showed strong cash generation of $259 million and demonstrated continued operational excellence and resilience as evidenced by an unrivaled safety record of 4.2 million hours without a Lost Time Injury.
“The company recorded a rise in revenue by 3.8% to N278.3 billion from N 219.2 billion year on year. It also declared a Q2 2023 dividend of US 3 cents per share, in line with a higher core annual dividend of US 12 cents. Seplat also grew its 2023 H1 gross profit to N140.6 billion from N114.1 billion year on year. The operating performance for the period was solid, given a 2% increase in production, which is benefiting from the Amukpe-Escravos Pipe Line and increased output from OML 40.
The statement added that “to our excitement also, we are pleased and proud of the good news, which ought to be of interest to any genuine investor that Seplat has extended the Share Sale and Purchase Agreement (SSPA) for the acquisition of ExxonMobil’s share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU) to preserve the transaction. Evidently, revenues rose by 3.8% to $547.0m (including an over-light of $504m on improved production, offset by lower oil price, cash generation of $259.1m, funding capex of $80.8m, and improved shareholder returns.
“The company’s balance sheet remains strong with $381.0m cash at the bank, despite the impact of the devaluation of the Naira on USD cash balances.
“It is evident that Igbrude and his collaborators are acting a script handed down to them by a discredited sponsor. We enjoin the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to pay no heed to the baseless allegations.”