Nigeria’s Oando aims to raise fresh capital, cut debt -CEO

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By Chijioke Ohuocha

LAGOS, April 3 – Nigerian oil company Oando aims to raise fresh capital over the next two years and repay debt used to acquire Conoco Phillips’ Nigerian assets, its chief executive Adewale Tinubu told Reuters.

Oando has transformed itself in the past few years from a fuel retailer to oil producer and now competes with multinationals such as Shell and ExxonMobil, but its growth has been largely built on debt.

It bought Conoco Phillips’ Nigerian assets for $1.5 billion in 2013, but high financing costs coupled with lower oil prices hit profit, leaving it unable to repay its debt. It has posted losses including a record $1.10 billion loss in 2014.

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Tinubu said Oando has paid over 77 percent of the acquisition debt and plans to pay-off the rest in 12 months, which would allow it to resume dividend payments. He said Oando would be left with total debt of $300 million.

Oando’s growth plan is to continue to pursue acquisitions as multinational oil companies sell assets, Tinubu said but added that he would take on new deals after paying down debt.

Exxon Mobil is weighing the sale of its Nigerian oil and gas fields for up to $3 billion to focus on new developments in U.S. shale and Guyana, industry and banking sources said.

“Our expectation is that over a four-year horizon we will no longer have long term debt,” Tinubu told Reuters by email.

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“GOING CONCERN”
In 2016, Nigeria’s central bank gave lenders a deadline to reach a deal to resolve Oando’s debt issue, leading to a 94.6 billion naira loan restructuring including asset sales.

Last week Oando’s losses narrowed to 18.3 billion naira ($59.8 million) for 2018 while its auditor Ernst & Young questioned its “going concern” status, saying that its current liabilities were in excess of its current assets.

Oando said it would reclassify some current liabilities as long-term liabilities to remedy its working capital by June and swap 27.5 billion naira of debt into equity, it said in a note to its 2018 accounts.

It also plans to sell up to $200 million via a rights issue by October and cut its stake in its upstream unit to raise $275 million in 2020, Oando said in its accounts

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