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Hearty cheers as Femi Otedola adds another precious year

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Hearty cheers as Femi Otedola adds another precious year

November 10
16:23 2015

Chairman of Forte Oil celebrates birthday with pageantry and well wishers

If Femi Otedola did not exist, who could invent him? Consider. In 2009, with an estimated net worth of over US$1.2billion, he was named as one of only two Nigerians (the other, Alhaji Aliko Dangote) on the prestigious Forbes list of world billionaires. Otedola can sail an 80-foot boat with admirable finesse. He knows enough about Nana, his £12 million luxury yacht, named after his wife, Nana, to cruise it dexterously across the salty and highly silted waters of the Lagos coast. By curiosity and practiced aplomb, he can skipper a Nigerian Naval ship through fierce Atlantic gales with the skill of a yachtsman handling a racing sloop. He is a keen student of history, he can dialogue persuasively on the neglected virtues of the Nigerian private entrepreneur, and is hip enough to fraternize appealingly across generations of peers, the elderly and youngsters.

And unlike the fabled explorer, Christopher Columbus, who didn’t have a business plan when he discovered America, Femi Otedola had a well-thought plan when he founded his dynasty. He proved that he was no rookie in the cut-throat world of business in the country’s oil sector. He is a gifted survivalist; for instance, just when many have written him off on the strength of his brush with few Nigerian banks over certain transactions that upset some of his businesses, Otedola made good his promise to bounce back to the economic arena more powerfully and convincingly, courtesy the rejuvenation and re-branding of AP to Forte Oil Plc.

A conservative estimate of his income once pegged it at about $420,000 a year. He is master of a stately home on 3,000 acres in Kent, which he calls “the most desirable bachelor pad in Europe.” He has a mischievous, urbane wit, an infectious smile. It is charming to be in the same epoch as Femi Otedola. It is quite enlightening too. Being a witness to the Forte Oil boss’ exploits, is quite inspirational and replete with interesting anecdotes to ambitious young men and women seeking his kind of entrepreneurial success and acclaim. His company, Forte Oil, is regarded by oil (diesel) marketers as a force to reckon with as it supplies the fuel to almost all large-scale manufacturing firms in the country. Forte Oil PLC is primarily engaged in the distribution of petroleum products such as diesel, aviation fuel and Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). The company has over 500 company-owned, dealer-assisted and dealer-developed gas stations spread across the country, oil storage depots in Lagos and Rivers states, a Power plant and a Joint User Hydrant Installation facility in Lagos. The company also sells its own range of automobile lubricants.

Otedola’s N2.8 billion worth oil storage facility is widely acclaimed to be one of the largest ever; he complements with the recent purchase of 100 new trucks at N1.3 billion to ensure fluid distribution of the crude oil product. He also owns a gigantic flat-bottom bunker vessel that store up to 16, 000 metric tonnes of diesel, which he acquired for US$6.8m. In addition, the company’s total diesel storage capacity of more than 147,000 metric tonnes is the largest single storage capacity, the biggest depot in the country.

And just recently, the founder of Forte Oil encountered fortune in common hours, for the umpteenth time. Some will term it the proceed of his industry and uncommon sense but by the time Otedola sealed the $265.7 million deal with Mercuria Energy Group Limited, his place was assured as the most fortunate oil magnate in Nigeria’s energy sector till date. By the new deal, Forte Oil’s market capitalization is currently valued at N53.1 billion ($265.7 million), the company’s total assets is valued at N117.5 billion, it’s gross revenue is estimated at N61.1 billion while its share price hovers at a record 239.99. The deal, according to pundits signify massive benefits for Forte Oil and other local stakeholders in the Nigerian oil and gas sector. The benefits are expected to rub off positively on the energy sector in general as it opens up the sector as a lucrative investment haven to major international players in the global energy market.

The Forte Oil boss sealed the deal with Mercuria, one of the largest integrated energy and commodity trading companies in the world, following weeks of excessive chatter over the lucrative deal in the energy circuit and across the local and international media. The news predictably generated unprecedented buzz as pundits and rivals of Forte Oil contemplated over what import it could bear on their stakes and that of Otedola for the latter to ink a deal that would see him sell 17 percent stake, worth $265.7 million in Forte Oil. Forte Oil stock price, which has bucked by the recent selloff in Nigerian equities, is up 25 percent in the past month, with its market capitalization rising by N76 billion to N323.6 billion. Eventually, Otedola became at least $398 million richer between March 3 and June 2 as shares of Forte Oil PLC, surged 167% within the period.

Born in 1967 in Epe, Otedola is the son of former Lagos State governor, Sir Michael Otedola. He is married to Nana, with three daughters and one son, including the British DJ and socialite Florence “Cuppy” Otedola. Otedola is Chairman of multibillionaire indigenous oil giant, Zenon Oil which later metamorphosed into Forte Oil Plc, a dominant force in the diesel and petroleum business among oil marketing concerns.

Otedola started his oil firm few years ago and within a short time, seized control of the market. Today he has become the pacesetter in the downstream sector while expanding the frontiers of competition. His company appeared to have fully prepared itself for the deregulation of the petroleum sector as evidenced in its purchases. Buying three cargo ships in quick succession to bring its total number of ships to four. Apart from being the biggest diesel and kerosene marketer in Nigeria today, he is said to be the biggest ship owner in the country, which partly explains his nomination as President of Nigeria Chambers of Shipping, a powerful and highly influential body in the maritime sector. The oil baron and shipping magnate also bought 100 brand new DAF trucks from the Netherlands to strengthen his distribution arm and become the biggest depot owner with the largest single storage capacity in the country.

Today, there are no new worlds, no fresh battles for Femi Otedola to conquer. And as he adds another year to his rewarding experience on mother earth this day Novermber 4, the Chairman of Forte Oil would be entrenching a culture of success and acclaim that has been the inspiration for generations of aspiring entrepreneurs and Nigeria’s “nouveau riche”.

Very few men excite interminable tribute of clamorous cheers in the wake of their most glorious exploits and attainments like Femi Otedola; the Chairman of Forte Oil stunningly commands the inexorable homage of unending cheers – these days it reverberates as boisterous applause for the extraordinariness of the man who taught Nigeria and the African continent to trust in his entrepreneurial depth and citizenship of humanity.

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