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Merger and Acquisition

MFS Africa Acquires Baxi, Expand Operations Into Africa’s Largest Economy

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Baxi Nigeria-Investors King

MFS Africa, the largest pan-African digital payments hub, announced it had signed an agreement to acquire Baxi, one of Nigeria’s largest independent SME-focused electronic payment networks. The deal, which is subject to approval from the Central Bank of Nigeria, will be the second-highest fintech acquisition in Nigeria to date.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy is the largest remittance market in Africa with one-third of intra-Africa remittance flows. MFS Africa’s presence in Nigeria to date has been limited given the country’s small number of mobile wallets. With the acquisition of Baxi, MFS Africa will expand its pan-African network into Nigeria, connecting Nigerian businesses to the continent and the rest of the world.

According to MFS Africa Founder and CEO Dare Okoudjou, he said, “this deal is a pivotal step in our journey. By combining Baxi’s network of SMEs operating as agents with our pan-African network, we aim to take Nigeria’s SMEs to the rest of Africa and the world. Our expansion into Nigeria brings us one step closer in our mission of making borders matter less,”

Baxi was founded in 2014 by Degbola Abudu and Folu Majekodunmi, the electronic payment network provides a cash-in/cash-out offering as well as value-added services — account opening, money transfer, bill payment and more — to the last mile. Through its network of more than 90,000 agents, Baxi has already processed over USD 1 Billion in transactions this year.

Following the acquisition’s close, MFS Africa will build Baxi into a key node on its digital payment network, allowing customers to make regional and global payments to and from Nigeria. MFS Africa will also expand Baxi’s proposition for offline SMEs to select markets within MFS Africa’s footprint of 320 million mobile wallets across more than 35 African countries.

Previous restrictions to mobile network operators’ participation in mobile money services have restrained the sector’s growth in Nigeria. To serve the more than 55% of Nigerian consumers currently excluded from formal financial services, Nigerian fintechs that have built strong agent networks are the crucial interface to reach Nigeria’s ~31m financially underserved and ~67m financially unserved populations. Supporting and nurturing SMEs is crucial to Nigeria’s economy, as they contribute 50% of Gross Domestic Product and provide 76% of jobs. With its presence in 36 Nigerian states, Baxi fills a critical gap by providing unbanked Nigerians and informal SMEs access to financial services.

The focus areas of both companies are complementary. Baxi simplifies and integrates online and offline payments for SMEs and merchants in Nigeria through its omnichannel distribution network. MFS Africa simplifies cross-border payments, integrating payments via one hub.

“We’re thrilled to partner with the MFS Africa team to expand our service offering for individuals and SMEs. We believe that we’ve barely scratched the market’s potential. Only 3% of Nigerian SMEs have access to credit products. By teaming up with MFS Africa, and with the strong support of our local commercial banking partners, we can offer more value-added products and services, such as cross-border payments, to support Nigerian SMEs in their growth,” said Degbola Abudu, Baxi CEO.

Baxi acquisition is MFS Africa’s third acquisition in five years, seeing the pan-African payments giant expand into Africa’s largest economy, where its presence to date has been limited given the country’s small number of mobile wallets. Capricorn will be called MFS Africa but its core product, Baxi, retains its name.

Both parties declined to disclose the value of the deal, however, Capricorn Founder and CEO, Degbola Abudu, in a call with TechCabal said the deal is the second-largest of its kind in Nigeria’s fintech space, behind the $200 million Stripe paid for Paystack last year.

MFS Africa was founded in 2009 by Dare Okoudjou, a Beninese national, while Nigeria-born Abudu started Capricorn in 2014, with Folu Majekodunmi. The acquisition creates a larger, more versatile company that fuses interoperability between money operators and a super-agent network reaching the mass market.

MFS Africa’s big vision is to have a presence in all 54 African countries, serving 500 million people and millions of small businesses, according to Okoudjou. He said, “if you have a phone or POS, it should be enough to transact with the rest of Africa and the world, we’re building the foremost, currency-agnostic, real-time hub for payments on the continent, to enable people to transfer money the way they can call each other.” 

Often, MFS Africa’s continental expansion plan has involved partnering with money operators and making minority investments in other fintech companies across Africa, as in the case of Julaya, Maviance, and Numida.

However, Okoudjou explains that the company opts for full acquisition when both parties consider that a more effective way to achieve their shared long-term ambitions.

“The more we spoke with Dee, the more we realised what we could achieve with a full acquisition instead of being only investors in which case there could be misaligned incentives.”

Okoudjou further explains that the need to “bolster our presence in Nigeria” given its unique market features—the prevalence of offline payment touchpoints over mobile-first transactions—drove MFS Africa’s interest in Capricorn.

“In other markets, one or two partnerships with mobile money operators could see us reach 60% of digital payment users in the country. However, mobile money isn’t that widely adopted in Nigeria. Instead, agent networks such as Capricorn’s have grown rapidly.” He says. 

For Abudu, the future of the mobile payments landscape in Africa is a game of few, where consolidation is the way forward, and attempting to scale alone would require more capital expenditure and a longer time to execute.

“It’s a good time to partner with a company that brings a real pan-African presence and we see synergies across our operations. They offer a wide range of value-added products and services like cross-border payments while we have access to SMEs in Nigeria, one of the biggest markets in Africa. We believe that we’ve barely scratched the market’s potential. The deal brings many things that allow us to grow very quickly.

“We’ve been able to build a large business with relatively small capital but now we want to be able to compete, not just in Nigeria but also across Africa, the deal with MFS Africa gives us leverage to take Baxi and the model that’s been so successful in Nigeria to other African countries.” Says Abudu

MFS Africa plans to engage with Nigeria’s central bank and other regulators to seek any other additional licenses needed to operate its full-service offerings—such as remittance, micro-lending, insurance—while also exploring commercial partnerships in the country.

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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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Merger and Acquisition

Access Bank Plc Expands Footprint in Tanzania with ABCT Acquisition

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Access bank

Access Bank Plc has taken a significant stride in expanding its presence in East Africa through the acquisition of a majority equity stake in African Banking Corporation of Tanzania (ABCT) Limited, a subsidiary of Atlas Mara Limited.

The acquisition, which was completed recently, underscores Access Bank’s ambition to become one of the leading financial institutions in Africa.

The transaction not only solidifies its position within the East African banking landscape but also aligns with its broader goal of enhancing intra-African trade and fostering economic development across the continent.

Commenting on the transaction, Roosevelt Ogbonna, Managing Director of the Bank, said: This strategic move represents a notable step towards setting a railroad in Tanzania for intra-African trade within the East African region, Africa and the rest of the world. It underscores our commitment to creating a robust East African banking network, driving positive change and innovation. We are excited about the opportunities this acquisition presents for our operations in Tanzania and are eager to leverage our
combined strengths to deliver exceptional financial solutions and experiences to our customers.

Commenting on the transaction, John Imani, Managing Director, African Banking Corporation (Tanzania) Limited, said: “The completion of our transaction with Access Bank Plc, not only underscores the strong confidence of Access Bank in our operations and the Tanzanian market but delivers new and exciting opportunities for our customers, employees, and stakeholders. The new entity is poised to enhance our service offerings, leveraging Access Bank’s extensive resources and expertise to deliver even greater value to our clients. We look forward to an exciting and prosperous future as part of the Access Bank family, driving economic growth and financial inclusion across Tanzania.”

Following the acquisition, Access Bank plans to merge ABCT with the consumer, private, and banking business of Standard Chartered Bank Tanzania, another entity it is acquiring.

This strategic integration aims to create Access Bank Tanzania, positioning it as a prominent player in the country’s banking sector.

The combined entity will offer a comprehensive range of banking products and services tailored to meet the evolving needs of Tanzanian businesses and individuals.

Access Bank’s expansion into Tanzania is expected to stimulate competition in the local banking industry, spur innovation, and deepen financial inclusion.

With a robust presence across multiple African markets, Access Bank continues to demonstrate its commitment to driving sustainable growth and fostering economic resilience across the continent.

As Access Bank Tanzania prepares to launch under its new structure, stakeholders are anticipating enhanced banking solutions and increased accessibility that will contribute to Tanzania’s economic prosperity in the years ahead.

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Merger and Acquisition

Tolaram Acquires 58.02% Stake in Guinness Nigeria from Diageo

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Guiness

Tolaram Group has acquired a 58.02% stake in Guinness Nigeria from Diageo Plc. for ₦81.60 per share, representing approximately a 60% premium over Guinness Nigeria’s closing price of ₦50 on Monday.

Announced on June 11, 2024, the acquisition underscores Tolaram’s commitment to expanding its footprint in Nigeria’s robust consumer market.

Diageo, the UK-based beverage giant, will retain ownership of the Guinness brand, which will be licensed to Guinness Nigeria, now under Tolaram’s majority control, through long-term agreements.

Under the terms of the deal, Tolaram will initiate a mandatory takeover offer in compliance with Nigerian Exchange regulations.

However, Guinness Nigeria will continue to be publicly listed, maintaining its presence on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

A statement from Guinness Nigeria highlighted the terms of the agreement, confirming the continued production of the Guinness brand along with Diageo’s locally manufactured ready-to-drink and mainstream spirits under license and royalty agreements.

The transaction is slated for completion in 2025, pending necessary regulatory approvals.

Commenting on the acquisition, Sajen Aswani, Tolaram’s Chief Executive, said: “Our partnership with Diageo to jointly grow Guinness Nigeria underscores our commitment to build on our strong presence and heritage in Nigeria, cultivated over decades of dedication and unwavering confidence in the future of Africa. We take a long-term view on all our investments, and this partnership reflects our optimism on the exciting opportunities that lie ahead across the continent.”

Diageo CEO Debra Crew echoed Aswani’s sentiment “I’m excited to announce our new partnership with Tolaram. Guinness has been Nigeria’s favourite beer for nearly 75 years. Tolaram shares this passion for Guinness and for Nigeria, making them the perfect partners as we continue to grow our business and seek to delight even more consumers in the country.”

This strategic acquisition is expected to bolster Guinness Nigeria’s market position, leveraging Tolaram’s extensive experience in the consumer goods sector to drive growth and innovation.

The partnership aims to enhance the availability and appeal of Guinness and other Diageo products in Nigeria, contributing to the country’s economic development and consumer satisfaction.

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