Elumelu keeps mum as Otedola Fumes over Transcorp deal

Tony Elumelu

A day after billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola alleged that his good friend, Tony Elumelu backstabbed him in a business deal, the Chairman of Transcorp, Elumelu is yet to give a response. Recall that Otedola had on Tuesday, said his offer to buy Nigerian conglomerate, Transnational Corporation Plc, for N250bn was rejected. He went down memory lane to recount how his business deals with Elumelu went sour. He spoke in a statement he issued to TheCable, weeks after he acquired stakes in Transcorp and sold the shares. Otedola revealed that he had bought the shares of the organisation because he believed in the potential of the Group to hit N2tn in valuation. Otedola said, “I offered to buy Transcorp Plc for N250bn, but unfortunately, my offer was rejected. My goal was to maximise the company’s potential as a Nigerian conglomerate with a market cap of at least N2tn instead of the current N40bn, but it seems some shareholders have a different vision. “As a businessman, I believe in healthy competition and market dynamics. Two captains cannot man a ship, and I respect the majority shareholder’s decision to buy me out. This is the nature of the game.” Going down memory lane, the majority shareholder in Geregu Power revealed some business deals between him and the Chairman of Transcorp, Tony Elumelu. He said, “In 2005, while Tony was the Managing Director of Standard Trust Bank, he approached me to get funds to acquire UBA. I enthusiastically gave him $20m, which was N2bn at that time to buy the necessary shares in UBA for the acquisition. “After a short period of time, the share price moved up and I decided it was a good moment to sell and get out of the bank. However, Tony appealed to me to hold on to the shares as he was convinced that there were future prospects – so I kept the shares.” He added that, “I became chairman of Transcorp Hotel in 2007 with a shareholding of five per cent and unknowingly, Tony gradually started buying shares quietly. “By the following year in 2008, I went bankrupt in Nigeria. Tony proceeded to take my shares in UBA to service the interest on my loans and he also took over my shares in Africa Finance Corporation, where I was the largest shareholder. “Shortly after, Albert Okumagba informed me that an American firm wanted to acquire my shares in Transcorp, which I then agreed to sell. However, this supposed American firm turned out to be Tony Elumelu. The revelation of this prompted me to resign as chairman of the hotel.” He continued that, “Years later in 2012, Tony said he wanted to see me so we met in my office where I had previously had a meeting with foreign investors who had not yet departed the premises. Curious to know, he asked what sort of meeting I had had and I disclosed that I wanted to go into the power business, specifically Ughelli Power Plant. Tony quietly went ahead to bid for Ughelli and he outbidded me by offering to buy the plant for $300m.” Otedola added that his offer to buy Transcorp was “made with the best intentions for Transcorp Plc and its shareholders. I saw an opportunity to unlock the company’s full potential and create value for everyone involved. “It’s important for investors to understand that free entry and free exit are crucial to healthy markets. The scramble for shares after my acquisition is a testament to the value that Transcorp Plc can offer, and I hope the company continues to thrive under new leadership.” However, efforts to get the Chairman, of Transcorp Group, Tony Elumelu, to comment on the development were not successful as of press time. Also, our correspondent did not get any press statement from the Transcorp Group on the issue on Tuesday.