Oando issues statement on major shareholders’ legal troubles

A man rides a motorcycle past a closed Oando gas station in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. With his security forces engaged in fighting Boko Haram's Islamist insurgency in the north, President Muhammadu Buhari can't afford renewed rebellion in the delta. Photographer: George Osodi/Bloomberg

JSE-listed Nigerian oil company Oando issued a Sens statement on Tuesday morning saying reports that a London court ordered it to return $680m to a disgruntled investor were false.

But Oando appears to be prevaricating since most reports made it clear the dispute was between its majority shareholders, Oando CEO Adewale Tinubu and deputy CEO Omamofe Boyo, and businessman Gabriele Volpi who invested $700m in Oando’s majority shareholder.

Volpi’s company Ansbury acquired 62% of Ocean and Oil Development Partners for $700m. The balance was owned by Tinubu and Boyo via a company called Whitmore Asset Management.

The London Court of International Arbitration on July 6 ordered Ocean and Oil Development Partners to return $600m to Volpi, and Whitmore was ordered to pay him a further $80m.

Ocean and Oil Development Partners owns 57% of Oando and is domiciled in the British Virgin Islands — facts Oando used in its defence when the relationship with Volpi turned sour and he petitioned Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to recoup his investment.

“This petitioner is not a shareholder of the company, but a shareholder in a company domiciled in a jurisdiction outside Nigeria which in turn holds shares in a Nigerian investment company that is a shareholder in Oando,” it said in a Sens statement in August 2017.

Nigeria’s SEC nevertheless ordered Oando’s shares suspended on both the Lagos Stock Exchange and the JSE in October 2017, but allowed the shares to resume trading in April.

Oando’s share last traded on the JSE for 23c, giving it a market capitalisation of nearly R3bn.