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Shell Probed in Italy Over $1.1bn Nigerian Scandal

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Italian prosecutors are investigating Royal Dutch Shell as part of a probe into the acquisition of an offshore oil field in Nigeria, the Anglo-Dutch company said on Wednesday.

Oil Prospecting Licence 245 was said to have been purchased in 2011 by Shell and Eni for $1.3bn. But corruption scandal has continued to trail the transaction.

“We can confirm we have received notice of proceedings from the public prosecutor in Italy,” Reutersquoted a Shell spokesman to have said.

Earlier on Wednesday, a judicial source told Reuters that Shell was under investigation by Milan-based judges for alleged international corruption.

Shell headquarters in The Hague were searched in February by Dutch police and prosecutors as part of this new strand of investigations, the company spokesman also said.

In 2014, a Milan court placed Eni under investigation over the $1.3bn purchase in 2011 of OPL 245 offshore oil block by the Italian major and Shell.

Prosecutors later widened their investigation to include Eni’s Chief Executive Officer, Claudio Descalzi.

Eni and Descalzi have denied any wrongdoing. The state-controlled oil company has always said it dealt exclusively with the government of Nigeria, paid fees into a government account and did not use intermediaries for the transaction.

“Shell is cooperating with the authorities and is looking into the allegations, which it takes seriously,” the spokesman said, adding, “Shell attaches the greatest importance to business integrity, one of our core values.”

Italian prosecutors are working jointly with an anti-fraud team in the Netherlands in order to determine whether the two oil companies paid bribes to obtain licences for the Nigerian site, the judicial source said, confirming reports by Italy’s daily Corriere della Sera.

The OPL 245, which has been at the centre of a series of long-standing disputes, was initially awarded in 1998 by former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dan Etete, to Malabu Oil and Gas, a company in which he was a shareholder.

The field was then sold in 2011 to Eni and Shell. According to documents from a British court, Malabu received $1.09bn from the sale, while the rest went to the Nigerian government.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Fidelity Bank Partners Edo State and GIZ to Host CBN RT200 FX Exports Roundtable and Sensitisation Workshop 

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Leading financial institution, Fidelity Bank Plc, has announced plans to host an exports roundtable and policy sensitisation workshop for businesses in Benin-City, Edo State capital in partnership with the Edo State Investment Promotion Office (ESIPO) and GIZ on Tuesday, 24 May 2022.  

The event, which would be the fourth edition of the bank’s CBN RT200 FX Sensitization seminars following successful outings in Kano, Ondo and Plateau States in February, March and April 2022 respectively, is part of the bank’s initiatives to help importers pivot to exports.

According to the Divisional Head, Export and Agriculture, Fidelity Bank Plc, Isaiah Ndukwe, Fidelity Bank’s decision to partner ESIPO and GIZ is borne out of the need to help exporters to build their business management capacity and is further proof of the value the bank provides to export-oriented businesses in Nigeria.

“At Fidelity Bank we are known for empowering our customers with the necessary financial and non-financial services to upscale their businesses. We consider the CBN RT200 FX scheme an amazing opportunity for businesses to bolster their FX earning capacity and we are delighted to collaborate with ESIPO and GIZ to host businesses in and around Benin City to a workshop to help them take advantage of the scheme”, explained Ndukwe.

Launched on February 10, 2022, by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as part of measures to reduce the increasing demand for foreign currency by importers, the RT200 FX scheme is designed to help Nigeria achieve $200 billion in FX repatriation from non-oil exports over the next five years. The policy has been hailed by stakeholders in the export sector as an initiative capable of stimulating the growth of non-oil exports in Nigeria.

“The goal of the roundtable is to identify and promote viable non-oil export opportunities, provide financing options, and proffer steps to removing the identified bottlenecks in the export process for non-oil products from Edo State to the global market. It will provide a platform for the exporters to meet with the export regulatory bodies and express their challenges which hinder exports. The event will also serve as an opportunity for the regulatory agencies to address the challenges on the spot and provide solutions to them with a view of enhancing Nigeria’s capacity in the African Continental Free Trade Area deal”, commented Marcus Unuebho of the Business Development Support and Export Unit, ESIPO.

On his part, the Technical Advisor for Edo State, Local Economic and Value Chain Development, GIZ SEDIN, Nosakhare Omon Aigiomawu stated that, “Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises are the drivers of local economic development. Collaborating to provide market linkages and access to finance would address major constraints to these groups and ensure more employment creation as well as higher income”.

Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria with over 6.5 million customers serviced across its 250 business offices and digital banking channels. The bank was recently recognized as the Best SME Bank Nigeria 2022 by the Global Banking & Finance Awards. The bank has also won awards for the “Fastest Growing Bank” and “MSME & Entrepreneurship Financing Bank of the Year” at the 2021 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.

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Bank of Industry Disburses N213.63bn to Over 30,000 Businesses in 2021

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The Bank of Industry (BOI) has revealed that it disbursed a total of N213.63 billion to 30,406 businesses in Nigeria in the 2021 financial year.

The Managing  Director of BOI, Olukayode Pitan disclosed this at the 62nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the bank on Thursday in Abuja. He said that the bank was able to successfully scale up its developmental impacts in 2021 despite the challenges and limitations caused by COVID-19.

Pitan said “at the peak of COVID-19 in 2020, the bank took steps to support customers with a two per cent reduction in interest rates for a year alongside an extension of loan tenors and moratoriums. He said that the operating environment improved in 2021 and that is the reason they have decided to extend the incentives until March 31, 2022.”

He added that all ongoing projects were reviewed to assess emerging risks and opportunities and also additional support was provided.

“In the year under review, the bank disbursed a total of N213.63 billion to 30,406 Nigerian enterprises through both direct and indirect methods. This represents a 47.3 per cent increase over disbursements in 2020.

“The 2021 disbursements include N2.99billion to 22,120 farmers through our smallholder  farmers on  lending product and one billion Naira to 4,000 micro-retailers through our MSMEs distributor finance programme.

“At BoI, we have since taken measures to ensure that our systems, processes and people are continuously equipped to meet the evolving business environment.

“Today, we are a more agile and adaptive institution,  able to provide the necessary developmental support for Nigeria’s real sector in an ever-changing economy.

“Our commitment to building a resilient organisation that can respond to the needs of our customers and operating challenges is unwavering.

“We strongly believe that we can achieve this with the continuous support of the stakeholders.” he further said. 

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Dangote Seeks Over N300 Billion To Complete Refinery

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Business tycoon, Aliko Dangote has finalized plans to seek over N300 Billion ($750 million)  through bonds to complete his refinery project in Lagos State.

Investors King gathered that the refinery project was supposed to be finished in 2019, but funding issues and the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in the works, forcing the deadline to be moved back to 2023.

Dangote sought to raise $750 million from the Nigerian bond market with Dangote Oil Refining Company Limited and Dangote Fertiliser Limited, both Dangote Industries Limited companies, serving as co-obligors under the proposed programme, according to Fitch Ratings.

In order to prevent another extension and complete the refinery project next year, a portion of the funds will be used to cover the $1.1 billion needed to complete the refinery project while the remainder will come from either a Dangote Cement asset sale or the refinery project itself, equity sales.

“If the transaction is not successful, or should completion costs overrun or market conditions in the cement or urea sector deteriorate materially, we do not believe that DIL’s existing creditors would have further lending capacity.

“We believe that further asset sales, either in cement, or stakes in the projects, would be the more likely options to address funding of the refinery,” Fitch’s report reads.

About nine months ago, recall that Dangote opted to increase the workforce of his refinery by 17,000. Investors King reported that “the project currently employs 29,000 Nigerians and 11,000 foreigners at the 650,000 barrels-per-day world’s largest single refinery project located in the Ibeju Lekki area of Lagos. This is a ratio of around three Nigerians to one expatriate presently, which will increase local talent with the new additions.”

Speaking in a broadcast, Investors King quoted Dangote saying “When we started the project, we were supposed to bring a lot of foreign workers, but as we speak today, we have less than 11,000 expatriates. We have almost about 29,000 Nigerian workers that are getting massive training. We are also creating a lot of capacity in the country, which will be of great help for future oil projects in Nigeria, most especially with the opening up of the oil industry through the new Petroleum Industry Act….”

As a matter of fact, the idea of a successful Dangote Refinery project has been the expectation of both citizens of Nigeria and the Government, because,  it will help bring a stop to the importation of crude oil.

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