Months after news first emerged that billionaire Femi Otedola was divesting his 75percent direct and indirect shareholding in Forte Oil’s downstream business with the transaction expected to close in the first quarter of 2019 subject to the satisfaction of various conditions and receipt of applicable regulatory approval, The Capital can reveal authoritatively that the deal has now been finalized.
Otedola has effectively ceased to be involved with the company. The new owner is Abdulwasiu Sowami, the businessman behind Prudent Energy and Services Ltd. Sowami, who lives in Ogba, Lagos, was virtually unknown in Nigeria until his name propped up as the new proprietor of Forte Oil.
Indeed, it is the end of an era for Otedola and Forte Oil, the company that has become synonymous with his mammoth wealth. Originally founded in 1964 as British Petroleum before becoming known as African Petroleum, Otedola was appointed its chairman and chief executive in 2007 after the acquisition of a controlling stake in the business by his petroleum products marketing and distribution company, Zenon Petroleum.
In 2010, the company rebranded to Forte Oil with a focus on technology and improved corporate governance. Over the years, Forte Oil established presence in the 36 states of Nigeria and Abuja, operating a network of 500 retail outlets spread across the country and in Ghana, with major fuel storage installations at both Apapa (Lagos State) and Onne (Rivers State), an aviation joint users hydrant in Lagos, and joint aviation depots in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano, serving the aviation industry.
The company markets premium motor spirit (PMS), automotive motor oil (Diesel), dual purpose kero (DPK), fuel oils and Jet A-1 fuel amongst others. It also manufactures and distributes a range of lubricants, some of which include Super V, Visco 2000 etc. at its lubricating oil blending plant at Apapa, Lagos. It also provides well production chemicals and drilling fluids to Nigeria’s petroleum upstream operators through its upstream services subsidiary, Forte Upstream Services.
With Forte Oil, the successful businessman achieved a different level of prosperity so much that by 2015, he was listed as the 16th richest man in Africa by Forbes. But the adventurous billionaire seems bored with the oil business as he has now set his sight on conquering the power sector. In 2013, Forte Oil purchased a controlling stake in the 414 MW Geregu Power Plant under a government-led privatisation programme in the power industry. A major overhaul of the plant commenced in 2015 and was completed in 2016, increasing the combined capacity to 435MW.
Otedola is now set to take his Mojo and Midas Touch to the power sector and if the cosmos align with his plans, become king as he did in the oil and gas industry.