The Billionaire Who Lost Everything.
This is a true life story of Nigerian billionaire Femi Otedola on the day he lost everything
Life was rosy for Femi Otedola until it took a sudden turn leaving him billions in the red. He had to start all over again.
In 2008, a shipment containing one million tons of diesel set sail, heading for the shores of Nigeria. The owner of the vessel, Femi Otedola, Chairman of Forte Oil, a petroleum and power generation company, had grown the company to one of the largest in Nigeria, with over 500 filling stations, according to Forbes. The growth had been rapid and profits were at an all-time high. Then disaster struck.
“I had about 93 percent of the diesel market on my fingertips. All of a sudden oil prices collapsed and I had over one million tons of diesel on the high seas and the price dropped from $146 to $34” —Femi Otedola.
That was only the beginning of his problems. The naira was subsequently devalued and interest began to skyrocket. When the dust settled, Otedola had lost over $480 million due to the plunge in oil prices, $258 million through the devaluation of the naira, a further $320 million due to accruing interest and then finally $160 million when the stocks crashed.
“I had two options, either to commit suicide or to weather the storm. I decided to weather the storm. I just knew it was a phase I had to go through.
You see God prepares you for greater things and of course experience is the best teacher so I had to learn my lessons. I took the bitter pill”. — Femi Otedola
Otedola was now $1.2 billion in debt. He sought solace in the only thing that had set him on the path to discovering oil, destiny.
“You cannot compete with destiny, so it was my destiny to make billions every month and lose billions as well. I said to myself ‘I was not going to have friends and enemies, I was only going to have competitors.”
At the age of six, Otedola had already discovered his knack for business. He would provide manicure and pedicure services to his father and his friends and write them a receipt for payment.
On his birthday, while all his friends wanted toys, Femi Otedola would ask his father for a briefcase instead. His father, Sir. Michael Otedola, as a former Governor of Lagos State, was a well respected man. But now, his son’s public fall threatened to destroy that name.
“After I lost the money, something that struck me was that my father had always been my role model in life and the first thing I had to do was to protect his name. He had a policy; honesty was the best policy, so I had to protect that name and his integrity.”
Just after the global banking crisis had struck, the Nigerian government established the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to buy up distressed loans. Otedola’s loan was sold to AMCON, by the bank he blamed for his challenges.
“Experience is the best teacher. I didn’t have a proper structure and I also put the blame on the banks for not advising me. All they were interested in was the profits. They were not interested in sustainability of the business, they were short-sighted and all they were interested in was throwing money at me. So they never advised me,” — Femi Otedola.
The banks had to shave off about $400 million from the debt leaving Otedola $800 million in the red. AMCON offered him a restructuring deal, which Otedola declined. He opted instead to repay what he owed and start all over again.
“So we got a reputable firm to value my assets. I had about 184 flats, which I gave up. I was the largest investor in the Nigerian banking sector, which I gave up, I was also a major shareholder of Africa Finance Corporation and I was the Chairman of Transcorp Hilton. I was a shareholder in Mobil Oil Nigeria Limited, the second largest shareholder in Chevron Texaco, Visafone and several companies which they valued, and I had to give up to repay the debt.”
Femi Otedola was left with just two properties, his office space and a 34-percent stake in African Petroleum, which he rebranded, to Forte Oil in 2010.
In 2014, Otedola bounced back to reclaim his place on the FORBES rich list and currently has a net worth of $1.8 billion, according to the FORBES wealth unit.
These days, he is much wiser; there are systems in place to prevent a similar collapse of his mammoth business empire.
According to the mogul, the day he lost everything was the day he learned his biggest lesson.
It taught him that he could overcome anything.
Source: CNBC Africa
Billionaires lose millions to become billionaires.
Millionaires lose thousands to become millionaires.
But the poor don’t want to lose anything, so they remain where they are.
The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
If I fall, I’ll fall five feet four inches forward in the fight for freedom. I’m not backing off. ― Fannie Lou Hamer
“When you fall down, rise up. When you fall again, rise up again. This is just a developmental process that makes a healthy baby become a successful man.” ― Israelmore Ayivor
APPOINTMENT OF WTO CHIEF IN DOUBT AFTER KEY MEETING CANCELLED
APPOINTMENT OF WTO CHIEF IN DOUBT AFTER KEY MEETING CANCELLED
• Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had been expected to be confirmed as leader on Monday
By Richard Partington
The race to find a new leader of the World Trade Organization has been thrown into renewed uncertainty after the cancellation of a key appointment meeting following the US presidential election.
The Geneva-based WTO, which acts as an international arbiter for trading disputes, said it had put off a meeting scheduled for Monday that had been called to appoint Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its next director general.
Donald Trump’s administration opposed her selection in one of its final acts before the US election, despite the former Nigerian finance minister securing the overwhelming backing of the WTO’s 164 members.
The special meeting of the trade body’s general council had been convened to take a formal decision on the appointment. Officials had been set to put forward Dr Okonjo-Iweala as the candidate most likely to attract a majority, after most countries expressed a preference for her over South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee.
Okonjo-Iweala had moved a step closer to becoming the first woman and the first African to be director of the global trade watchdog after securing backing from the EU, China, Japan and Australia. Liam Fox, the leading Brexiter and former international trade secretary, had run as the UK government’s preferred candidate but failed to win enough support from other countries to reach the last two in the process.
Trade experts said Joe Biden defeating Trump in last week’s election may have led to countries calling for a delay in the WTO leadership race, with the aim of securing the Biden White House’s backing for Okonjo-Iweala after he takes charge in January.
The delay in selecting a new WTO director general comes at a fragile moment for the world economy amid the second wave of Covid-19, and after years of criticism of the WTO and calls for reform from Trump.
The WTO said the meeting would be postponed until further notice, during which time the organisation would continue undertaking consultations with delegations from countries around the world to pick a new leader.
It said in a statement: “For reasons including the health situation and current events, delegations will not be in a position to take a formal decision on 9 November.”
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES LIFTS VISA RESTRICTION ON NIGERIANS, SAYS GOVERNMENT
UNITES ARAB EMIRATES LIFTS VISA RESTRICTION ON NIGERIANS, SAYS GOVERNMENT
BY SAHARAREPORTERS, NEW YORK
The United Arab Emirates has agreed to resume visa issuance to Nigerians, the government has said.
Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation, announced this via his Twitter handle on Wednesday.
He disclosed that the move was to allow Emirates Airlines resume operations in Nigeria
He said, “UAE has written to state that they agree to issue visas to Nigerians, consequently decision has been reached to allow Emirates to fly into Nigeria.
“Commencement of the Visa issuance is condition precedent. Please bear with this unusual situation. Many thanks.”
UK RETURNS $100,000 CONFISCATED FROM DUPED NIGERIAN BUSINESSMAN
UK RETURNS $100,000 CONFISCATED FROM DUPED NIGERIAN BUSINESSMAN
Mr Danu had protested the seizure of the money saying it was his legitimate earning and that he declared it with customs.
The United Kingdom has returned the sum of $100,000 confiscated by airport security from Nigerian businessman, Nasiru Danu, after a court gave judgment in his favour in a confiscation suit.
Court documents and banking details seen by this newspaper showed that the money was paid with interest that accrued in the last one year as ordered by a magistrate court on September 7.
Mr Danu was intercepted by officials of the United Kingdom Border Force and Immigration officials on arrival at the London airport on September 13, 2019 after his then newly-acquired Maltese passport with which he travelled there turned out to be fake.
The businessman, PREMIUM TIMES gathered, was duped of $35,000 by a ‘travel agency’ which offered to help him obtain a Maltese passport. Unknown to him the passport delivered to him by the agency was fake.
On returning to Nigeria, Mr Danu petitioned the State Security Service (SSS) over the passport fraud and his resultant arrest and deportation from the UK.
The SSS later referred the case to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which is now pressing charges against one Rabbi Okpara.
PREMIUM TIMES had in December reported how Ms Okpara was docked by the EFCC before an FCT High Court for allegedly defrauding Mr Danu and other unsuspecting Nigerians.
Ms Okpara is the owner of Green Valley Concept Limited, a purported travel agency.
EFCC investigators said Ms Okpara used her travel agency to lure unsuspecting members of the public to buy into a sham travel/residency arrangement in Malta.
The EFCC said Ms Okpara in her statement to the agency admitted to liaising with a third party, one Mr Ugbaja, in obtaining these fake travel document for her clients.
Count one of the charges reads: “That you Rabbi Okpara and Jude Ugbaja(at large) sometime in August 2019, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court conspired between yourselves to do an illegal act, to wit; causing to be used as genuine forged documents, thereby committed an offence contrary to section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, CAP, MI7 laws of Federation Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same act.”
Count two reads: “That you Rabbi Okpara, Jude Ugbaja ( at large), Green Valley Concept Ltd and Palmary Travels and Tours Ltd, sometimes in August 2019 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court forged a maltase passport with the name Nasiru Haladu Danu with number 9647443 dated 27 April/AVR 2018 with intent that it be used as genuine; thereby committed an offence contrary to 320(a) of the Penal Code, Law of the Federation 1990 and punishable under section 322 of the same law.”
Seized cash returned
Aside deporting Mr Danu to Nigeria on his arrest at the airport in September, the UK authorities also took possession of $100,000 found on the businessman.
The businessman had protested the seizure of the money saying it was his legitimate earning and that he declared it appropriately with customs authorities in Nigeria before travelling with it to the UK.
Mr Danu also explained that he travelled with that amount of cash because his credit card had failed him repeatedly, leaving him stranded on a number of occasions.
But despite his explanations, the UK authorities seized the cash and approached a court for confiscation hearing.
However, the legal team for Mr Danu challenged the UK Border agency’s move to permanently confiscate the money. They succeeded.
“The court found that the security officials were wrong to seize the money as the money was from legitimate income which was not intended for an unlawful purpose and should therefore be returned to the owners,” said Mr Danu’s lawyer, Femi Joshua.
Mr Danu’s Nigerian Bank account was credited with the money with interest in two tranches of $50,471 on September 23, according to documents seen by PREMIUM TIMES.
When contacted Tuesday, Mr Danu said he was pleased that the court noted that he was a victim of crime by a syndicate which swindled him and sold him a fake passport.
“The court saw that I am a legitimate and honest businessman and that the cash found on me were legitimately earned and properly declared,” Mr Danu said.