By Stephen Ubanna
Until December 31, 2020, nobody knows what Tony Elumelu, founder and Chairman, Heirs Holding, who incidentally is also the Chairman, United Bank of Africa, UBA plc, a Pan African Bank, and founder of Tony Elumelu Foundation, and other Board members of the Holdings Company which had billions of dollars or trillions of naira investment in the nation’s oil and gas, power, real estate , agribusiness and financial services sectors of the economy in Nigeria and the African Continent in general have in store for the new year.
Unknown to many, Elumelu,Nigerian foremost investor, who, alongside other board members had turned Heirs Holdings into one of the leading African strategic investor, in partnership which its businesses spans the power, oil and gas, financial services, hospitality, real estate and Health care sectors, is currently operating in 23 countries of the world, mostly in the African Continent had a big surprise for Nigerians, to expand its investment portfolio in the oil and gas sector of the economy . It is on records that Transcorp, own more than50% of Heirs GHoldings, described as one of its biggest investments.
What is surprising people was that in spite of the Asian country of China emerged Coronavirus, popular, COVID 19, which had adversely affected the global economy, forcing many indigenous Companies to go under, Heirs Holdings , on Thursday, January 15, 2021, acquired a 45% stake, in the Nigerian oil Mining, license, , OML 17 and other related assets. The OML17, was said to have been acquired through, TNOG Oil and Gas Limited , which many believe is closely related to Heirs Holdings and Transcorp.
Informed sources told The Value News that the Company had acquired the 45% participating interest in the OML 17, which was initially operated by the British, Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, Total E&P, Nigeria limited, France, and ENI, an Italian Oil Prospecting Company, operating within the Niger Delta region to sustain the production level.
Based on the agreement that was said to have been signed by the parties , Heirs Holdings , which had acquired the 45% participating interest in the OML17, which had made it the majority shareholder, was said to have conferred on it the ‘’sole operatorship status of the asset’’ . The multi-million dollar, oil and gas deal, was said to have also involved Schlumber, which was appointed the technical partners and the training arm of shell as offtaker’’.
Energy experts told The Value News Magazine that the OML17, transaction is one of the largest oil and gas financings in Africa in more than a decade. The Magazine learnt that it has a financing component of $1.1 billion, provided by a Consortium of global and regional banks and investors.
The energy expert may have described the OML17, as one of the biggest oil and gas transaction in the African Continent in more than a decade because ‘’it has a current production capacity of 27,000 bpd and two percent reserves of 1.2 billion barrels per day. And additional one billion barrels of oil equivalent resources of further exploration potential.
There are indications that Heirs Holdings Management and Board members may have been advised by Standard Chartered plc, plc, as the global Coordinator and United Capital plc with a syndicate of financial lending Institutions , including, Afrexim Bank, ABSA, Africa Finance Corporation, Union Bank of Nigeria, Hybrid Capital and Global asset management firm, Amudi to acquire OML17, when it was put for sale because of the huge financial benefits on the long run.
Elumelu, who chairs, Heirs Holdings, and Companies , including UBA plc, had given kudos to President Muhammadu Buhari, the officials of SPDC,,Total, ENI, Temipre-Slver, a former governor of the oil rich Bayelsa state and now minister of state, ministry of Petroleum Resources and the NNPC, for the professionalism process of the conduct of the deal and the confidence reposed on Heirs Holdings, an indigenous, oil and gas Company to be the sole oprator of OML, 17.
The multi- million dollar investment, according Elumelu, ‘’ demonstrates a further advance in the execution of Heirs holdings’ integrated energy strategy and the group’ Commitment, through long term investments to create economic prosperity and social wealth in the African Continent’’.
Note that, Tenoil, another related oil and gas Company to Heirs Holdings and Transcorp currently operates Oil Prospecting Lcense, OPL 2008, under a production sharing Contract deal with the state owned oil Conglomerate, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC The . Heirs Holdings oil Company subsidiary, a source disclosed also owns Ata Marginal field, which the source further disclosed would commence production in the second quarter of 2021, with an initial production of 3,500bpd.
It is instructive to note that Transcorp, which has shares in Heirs Holdings also operates OPL 281, under a production sharing Contact with NNPC as well. Besides its investments in the oil and gas sector of the nation’s economy, the Company may have taken advantage of the investment opportunities open to invest in the nation’s power sector to do so.
The Magazine findings shows that at present, it is one of the largest Power producers in the country with installed capacity of 2MW, through partnership with Transcorp Power plant. The acquisitions of the $300 million Power plc, in Oil Rivers sate , in November, 2020, by the Company speaks volume. The Elumelu, who Chairs Transnational Corporation may not have not limited its electricity supplies to Nigeria, alone, as it has extended its operations far beyond the nation’s borders. Investigation by The Magazine shows that it currently supplies electricity to the West African country of Republic of Benin as part of its programme on ‘’promoting regional integration and delivering robust power supply to catalyse development in Africa’’.
Given an insider information why Heirs Holdings and Transcorp are expanding its operations when many Companies are going under because of the harsh economic environment and the Pandemic, in the African Continenent, Elumelu, had attributed it to a clear –cut vision of the promoters. ‘’We have a very clear vision , creating Africa’s first integrated energy multi-national , a global quality business, uniquely focused on Africa and Africa energy needs’’.
A elated Elumelu, described as one of Africa’s formost Philanthropists, had said that’’ the acquisition of such a ‘’high quality asset, with significant potential for further growth is a bold Statement of their Confidence in Nigeria, the Nigerian oil and gas sector and a tribute to the resourceful Management team that are assembled ‘’.
He noted that as an indigene of Delta state, in the oil rich Niger Delta region, ‘’ I understand well our responsibilities that come with stewardship of the asset, our engagement with the Communities and the strategic importance of the oil and gas sector in Nigeria’’.
The Founder of the $100 million, Tony Elumelu, Foundation, funded by Heirs Holdings and it’s advocacy and research initiatives, was said to have empowered thousands of African Entrepreneurs , across the 54 countries , in the African Continent, which had gone a long way in eradicating poverty and creating job opportunities in these countries.
Elumelu, who could not hide his feelings had said , ‘’ we see significant benefits in integrating our production , with our ability to power Nigeria, through Transcorp, and deliver value across the energy value chain’’. This should encourage the government to provide the enabling environment for more companies like Heirs Holdings and Transnational Corporation to invest in the economy.