REVEALED: How Tony Elumelu backstabbed me to take over my UBA shares, Ughelli Power Plant – Otedola
Billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola has accused Tony Elumelu, the chairman of the Transcorp Group, of backstabbing him to take over his shares in United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Ughelli Power Plant.
Otedola made the allegations in a press statement he released Tuesday morning, in which he spoke publicly for the first time about his failed bid to take over Transcorp.
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo had on Monday, presented the Discharge Certificate to Transcorp Power PLC for the privatization of Ughelli Power Plant PLC, at the Presidential Villa.
According to Otedola, his relationship with Elumelu dates back to 2005 when he gave him $20million to buy UBA shares for the acquisition of Standard Trust Bank.
“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 $20million, which was N2 billion 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.
“I became Chairman of Transcorp Hotel in 2007 with a shareholding of 5% 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,” Otedola said.
The businessman revealed that he was also outbid by Elumelu in his bid to acquire Ughelli Power Plant in 2012.
“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 $300million,” he added.
Otedola, who recently acquired a 5.52% stake in Transcorp, offered to buy the company for N250billion ($615million) and take its market capitalisation to N2trillion, but his bid was rejected.
“My goal was to maximise the company’s potential as a Nigerian conglomerate with a market cap of at least N2trillion instead of the current N40billion, 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,” he said.
Elumelu had earlier welcomed Otedola’s investment in Transcorp, describing him as his “very good friend”.
But Otedola’s latest comments suggest that the relationship between the two billionaires may have soured.
“My message to Transcorp Plc and its shareholders is this: I remain committed to the growth and success of Nigerian businesses, and I will always be looking for ways to create value for all stakeholders,” Otedola added.