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Moulders Increase Block Prices, End Strike Today

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Block Moulders

Block moulders in the country have concluded plans to raise the prices of blocks by between 11 per cent and over 30 per cent, following the recent increase in the prices of cement.

The new price regime for blocks is expected to come into effect immediately after the moulders call off their five-day strike on Friday (today).

The announcement came on Thursday just as the Chairman, Cement Company of Northern Nigeria Plc, Mr. Abdulsamad Rabiu, said the high cost of doing business in Nigeria was a major reason for the hike in the prices of cement.

The price of cement had last week risen from N1,500 per 50kg bag to between N2,400 and N2,500.

On Tuesday that the moulders suspended operation the previous day to protest the latest increase in the prices of cement, granite and other construction materials, with a hint of their plan to raise the prices of blocks unless the prices of cement and other moulding materials were reversed.

The President, National Association of Block Moulders of Nigeria, Alhaji Rasco Adebowale, said on Thursday that with the new price regime, the 6x9x18 load-bearing blocks would sell for N220 per unit, accounting for a 37.5 per cent increase over the previous price of N160.

The 9x9x18 load-bearing blocks will sell for N250 per unit, up from N220, while the 6x9x18 and 9x9x18 non-load bearing blocks will sell for N200 and N180, up from N180 and N160 per unit, respectively, according to him.

He said, “NABMON, rising from its one-week break in production and sales, has made recommendations on quality control and new prices for our products.

“In view of the incessant building collapse nationwide, private block moulding activities without the knowledge, supervision and control of the association are hereby prohibited. All members of the association have also been enjoined to comply with standards and quality to justify the new prices.”

A professor of Building at the University of Lagos and the Vice-Chairman, Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria, Martin Dada, said the new price regime was a reaction to market forces but added that it would pose a challenge to the building industry and the economy in the long run, if it was not reversed.“We know that this is not a good omen for the economy. The challenge is that there is no assurance that the blocks will retain quality. So, we are already courting danger for the future,” he said.

He said the rise in the prices of cement and its ripple effects on the housing sector in particular, and the economy in general, would increase cases of building collapse in the country.

Dada said, “We should now be thinking not just of buildings collapsing and killing people during construction but also the lifespan of our buildings. Will they last beyond 10 years with these developments?”

The immediate past President of the Nigerian Institute of Building, Mr. Tunde Lasabi, said the affordability aspect of housing in the country might no longer be possible with current developments.

“Cement and blocks are basics in construction, so when their prices rise, definitely the prices of houses will increase. So, the affordability aspect of housing now has a question mark attached to it,” he said.

Lasabi said the government needed to consider the reality of affordable housing by subsidising the price of cement.

“With our 17 million housing deficit, the government should begin to think of subsidising cement and cement manufacturers should also reconsider their stance on pricing,” he said.

The Chairman, Cement Company of Northern Nigeria Plc, Rabiu, while speaking at the company’s 37th Annual General Meeting in Abuja, said that the operating environment had become harsh on businesses with a lot of challenges on the real sector.

Specifically, he listed some of the challenges as shortage of energy, limited foreign exchange for spare parts and low demand for cement.

He said while the government was mindful of the challenges facing the sector, the drop in oil prices, which had resulted in a decline in revenue accretion to the federation account, had limited the government’s capacity to address the problems.

He said,”The situation is tough; the price of energy, which accounts for a huge part of our operating costs, has doubled.

“The foreign exchange rate has also increased compared to what it was a few months back and all these are impacting negatively on our operations.”

He, however, said despite the harsh operating environment, the management of the company would continue to strive for better shareholders’ value.

Speaking on the company’s financial performance, he said the CCCN recorded a turnover of N13.03bn for 2015 as against N15.1bn recorded in 2014.

The profit after tax, according to him, was N1.2bn in 2015 as against N1.9bn in 2014.

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

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Company News

Dangote Group Expands Refinery Storage Capacity to 5.3 Billion Litres

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Dangote Refinery

The Dangote Group has announced a significant expansion of its refinery storage capacity.

The expansion, disclosed by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President of the Dangote Group, during his address at the Afreximbank Annual Meetings and AfriCaribbean Trade & Investment Forum in Nassau, The Bahamas.

Currently boasting a storage capacity of 4.78 billion litres, the Dangote Petrochemical Refinery is set to increase this figure by an additional 600 million litres, bringing the total capacity to an impressive 5.3 billion litres.

This expansion underscores Dangote’s commitment to transforming Nigeria into a hub for refined petroleum products and solidifies the refinery’s role as a strategic reserve for the nation.

Addressing stakeholders at the forum, Dangote highlighted the refinery’s pivotal role in addressing longstanding challenges in Nigeria’s energy sector, particularly the absence of strategic reserves for petrol.

“The country doesn’t have strategic reserves in terms of petrol, which is very dangerous. But in our plant now, when you came, we had only 4.78 billion litres of various tankage capacity. But right now, we’re adding another 600 million,” Dangote affirmed.

The expansion comes amidst various operational challenges faced by the refinery, including attempts by international oil companies to hinder its operations.

Dangote asserted that these challenges, aimed at impeding the success of the refinery, were indicative of broader resistance to change within the oil industry.

“We borrowed the money based on our balance sheet. I think we borrowed just over $5.5bn. But we paid also a lot of interest as we went along, because the project was delayed because of a lack of land, also the sand-filling took a long time,” Dangote revealed, emphasizing the resilience required to overcome these obstacles.

Moreover, Dangote expressed optimism regarding the refinery’s capacity to influence regional fuel prices, citing the success story of diesel price reduction following the refinery’s market entry.

He indicated that while petrol pricing remains a complex issue governed by governmental policies, the refinery’s operations would strive to offer competitive pricing and supply stability.

The expansion of the Dangote Petrochemical Refinery not only marks a significant milestone in Nigeria’s industrial landscape but also positions the conglomerate as a key player in reshaping Africa’s energy dynamics.

As construction progresses towards completion, the refinery aims to further consolidate its role in meeting regional energy demands and fostering economic growth across West Africa.

With plans to commence sales of refined products in the coming months, Dangote’s refinery is poised to play a transformative role in Nigeria’s quest for energy independence and regional economic integration.

As stakeholders await the refinery’s operational debut, expectations are high for its potential to drive down fuel prices and enhance energy security across the region.

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Musk Secures Shareholder Support for Compensation and Texas Relocation

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Elon Musk

Tesla Inc. shareholders have voted in favor of Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s compensation package and the company’s state of incorporation change to Texas.

The results, announced at Tesla’s annual meeting in Austin on Thursday, reflect shareholder approval despite challenges such as declining sales and a significant drop in stock price.

Musk had hinted at the likely outcome the night before the meeting in a post on X, stating that both resolutions were “passing by wide margins.”

The electric car manufacturer did not disclose the detailed breakdown of the votes.

The approval of Musk’s pay package, although advisory, demonstrates continued investor support for his leadership.

The package had previously been nullified by a Delaware judge in January, but Tesla plans to appeal. Should the appeal fail, relocating Tesla’s legal home to Texas may provide the board an opportunity to reintroduce the compensation plan under potentially more favorable legal conditions.

Originally approved in 2018 with 73% of the vote, Musk’s compensation plan makes him eligible for up to $55.8 billion in stock options if Tesla achieves specific milestones.

Currently, the value of these options is approximately $48.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Musk’s leadership has been a topic of significant debate, particularly in light of his oversight of six companies and his tendency toward abrupt strategic changes.

Earlier this year, Musk orchestrated Tesla’s largest layoffs to date, only to rehire some of the affected workers weeks later.

In addition to the compensation package, shareholders voted to reelect James Murdoch and Kimbal Musk to Tesla’s board.

Murdoch, son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has served on the board since 2017, while Kimbal Musk, Elon’s younger brother, has been a member since 2004.

Tesla’s stock saw a modest increase of 0.3% in extended trading following the announcement, though the stock had fallen about 27% over the year compared to a 14% gain in the S&P 500 Index.

During the annual meeting, held at Tesla’s Austin headquarters, shareholders showed enthusiastic support as Musk took the stage in a black Cybertruck T-shirt.

He shared updates on the company’s progress, including the introduction of three new models, the expansion of the Supercharger network, and record production levels for Cybertrucks.

“A lot of people said Cybertruck was fake, never going to come out. Now we’re shipping a lot of Cybertrucks,” Musk stated.

In addressing his substantial pay package, Musk clarified that it is structured as options requiring him to hold Tesla stock for five years. “I can’t cut and run, nor would I want to,” he said.

The push for shareholder support involved a dedicated “Vote Tesla” website and advertising on X, with Tesla investors and executives vocalizing their backing for Musk.

Despite some opposition from significant investors like Norway’s sovereign wealth fund and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the measures passed.

The relocation to Texas has been formalized, with the certificate of conversion available on the Texas Secretary of State website.

However, any future compensation plan will need to be restructured to comply with Texas legal standards, should the Delaware appeal fail.

The recent shareholder vote may enhance Tesla’s position in the forthcoming appeal. Delaware Chancery Court Judge Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick’s January decision to void the compensation package cited conflicts of interest and inadequate disclosure.

The appeal’s outcome, expected later this year, will determine the next steps for Musk’s compensation plan.

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Merger and Acquisition

Exxon Mobil’s Sale to Seplat Progresses After NNPC Drops Legal Challenge

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exxonmobil

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has withdrawn its legal challenge against Exxon Mobil Corp.’s sale of its oil and gas assets to Seplat Energy Plc.

This decision eliminates a major obstacle that had stalled the completion of the $1.3 billion deal.

The NNPC submitted an application to the high court in Abuja to discontinue the case, as confirmed by its legal firm, Afe Babalola, in an email on Thursday.

This move follows an agreement reached last month between NNPC and Exxon Mobil to finalize the transaction under undisclosed terms.

However, court documents reviewed by Bloomberg reveal that NNPC retains the right to resume its legal challenge if the settlement terms are not honored.

The sale, initially signed in February 2022, still requires approvals from the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), which has set an August deadline, and from Nigerian President Bola Tinubu.

The NNPC’s withdrawal significantly advances the deal but does not mark its final hurdle.

The addition of Exxon Mobil’s blocks will significantly enhance Seplat’s portfolio, almost quadrupling its output to over 130,000 barrels per day.

This acquisition is set to bolster Seplat’s status as one of the leading suppliers of domestic gas to Nigerian power plants, fortifying its influence in the region.

In a parallel development, Shell Plc’s divestment of its Nigerian onshore oil business to a consortium of local firms, valued at over $1.3 billion, also awaits regulatory approval after being announced in January.

Both deals highlight the ongoing restructuring and consolidation within Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, aimed at increasing efficiency and local participation.

As Nigeria navigates these substantial industry shifts, the successful completion of the Exxon Mobil-Seplat deal will be a critical indicator of the nation’s ability to manage large-scale energy transactions.

It will also set a precedent for future agreements and regulatory processes in the country’s vital oil and gas sector.

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