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REVIEW… Like Union bank, like Shell: ‘Unknown’ small fish moves to swallow big fish



Lessons and pointers from the Bonga South West

In a case reminiscent of the acquisition of Nigeria’s second oldest bank, Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) by a lesser know bank, Titan Trust Bank, another uproar has emerged over the recent announcement by British energy company, Shell over the planned $2.4 billion sale of its onshore assets to Renaissance Africa Energy Company Limited (REAC).

Like the acquisition of UBN said to be facilitated through proxies, concerns are surfacing that a similar scenario might be playing out in the sale of SPDC to Renaissance if the concerns raised by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) are to be taken seriously.

Earlier, Shell, a British energy major, announced that it had reached an agreement to sell its Nigerian onshore subsidiary – Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, to Renaissance for $2.4bn after about a century of operations in the Niger Delta.

Renaissance, a consortium of five companies comprising four exploration and production companies based in Nigeria and an international energy group, confirmed the deal.

This deal sparked an uproar from oil workers under the aegis of PENGASSAN who rejected the planned sale insisting that the group being speculated to acquire these assets is unknown to it.

This brought to mind the recent uproar generated by the “acquisition of Union Bank by TTB”.

Concerns had emerged that Titan Trust Bank, a relatively ‘small bank with only two branches in Lagos’ swallowed up Union Bank, a 104-year-old bank, in a transaction valued in the region of over $1 billion dollars.

More concerns had emerged that the sum of $300m was loaned by the AFREXIM Bank to TTB which only got its banking license in 2018 and began operation in 2019 – barely five years ago.

The recent exposé by the CBN Special Investigator Jim Obazee which alleged that the sacked governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele allegedly used proxies to acquire Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) seemed to confirm the fears of many about the oddity that surrounded the deal.

The similarities to both deals are startling as PENGASSAN raised the alarm that the purported group is an assemblage of unknown entities.

READ ALSO:Shell assures workers as it sells SPDC to Renaissance for $2.4bn

More worrisome, the union alleged that the buying entities have no proven track record of having the capacity to manage such diverse assets.

‘’The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) attention has been brought to the press release announcing the intended sale of Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited (SPDC) Onshore Assets to the Renaissance group.

‘’A group of consortiums consisting of ND Western Limited, Aradel Holdings Pic. The Petrolin Group, FIRST Exploration and Petroleum Development Company Limited and the Waltersmith Group.

‘’Our Shell/SNBO Branch of PENGASSAN has further communicated all subsequent information presented to our members by Shell Management on the planned sale.

‘’Having appraised the situation, reviewed the presentation and carried out preliminary findings, we wish to state as follows:

’The group is unknown to us and thus it’s an assemblage of unknown entities with no proven track record in managing such diverse assets.

‘’We reject without equivocation all the terms affecting employees that were communicated in the presentation to our members”.

Continuing, the union added, ‘’The group must come clean with its intention(s) and be ready to have serious engagement with the Association and not the jamboree that Shell Management is currently engaging in.We have communicated to our Shell/SNBO Branches not to be distracted but to focus on the CBA negotiation that is due about a week from now.

‘’The industry regulator, JV Asset partners (NNPCL, Non-Operated Asset Partners) and other stakeholders are hereby put on notice.’’

It is left to be seen how this deal will pull through as more revelations come to the fore in the coming days.

By Babajide Okeowo

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