The Interlopers in Oando Plc


By Ijeoma Nwogwugwu

Mr. Wale Tinubu, the chief executive of Oando Plc, and his deputy, Mofe Boyo, must be squirming uncomfortably in their underwear. Despite their attempt to turn the consequential but partial award of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) on its head, it was abundantly clear that the declaration of the arbitration tribunal consisting of Mr. Harry Matovu, QC, Prof. Marco Frigessi di Rattalma and Mr. David Mildon, QC, was unequivocal in its pronouncement that Ocean and Oil Development Partners, a firm registered in the British Virgin Islands (OODP BVI), is indebted to Ansbury Investments Inc. to the tune of $600 million while Whitmore Asset Management Limited is indebted to the Ansbury to the tune of $80 million. Both sums make up the shareholder loans given by Ansbury to OODP BVI and Whitmore for the acquisition and exploitation of ConocoPhillips’ upstream assets in Nigeria.

For the benefit of readers, Ansbury, a single purpose investment vehicle incorporated in Panama and owned by the family trusts set up by an Italian-Nigerian businessman, Mr. Gabriele Volpi, entered into a contractual relationship with Whitmore, a BVI registered company owned by Tinubu and Boyo, on June 17, 2013. The objective was to set up a joint venture to raise funds for the acquisition of ConocoPhillips’ upstream assets in Nigeria valued at $1.5 billion. The contractual relationship between Ansbury and Whitmore led to the incorporation of a joint venture vehicle, OODP BVI. By way of shareholder loans provided solely by Ansbury to OODP BVI in the sum of $600 million and to Whitmore in the sum of $80 million, the equity in the venture (OODP BVI) was agreed to be held as to approximately 60% by Ansbury and approximately 40% by Whitmore. The JV OODP BVI itself owns all but one of the shares (99.99%) in OODP Nigeria Limited, which in itself owns 55.96% of Oando. Other investors own the balance of 44.04% of Oando.

The agreement between Ansbury and Whitmore provided for the repayment of the shareholder loans on January 1, 2018. However, Ansbury, perhaps, fearful of the mismanagement of Oando Plc and the loss of the loans that it had extended to Whitmore and OODP BVI which owns 99.99% of OODP Nigeria which also owns 55.96% of Oando Plc, prematurely demanded for the repayment of its shareholder loans on March […]

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