Nairametrics|A close examination of Vitafoam’s 2016 results reveal, the problems companies in the industrial and FCMG sector face in the Nigerian economy. Finance costs of 895 million naira in 2016 are greater than the operating profits of 888 million naira in the same period. The company paid a total of 774 million naira interest on loans in 2016. Bad debts went from 48.4 million naira in 2015 to 149.7 million naira in 2016. Reflecting the tough business environment in the country. The company needs to either renegotiate its loans, or look for a cheaper form of financing. The parent company made a loss after tax of 32 million naira for the second year running. Earnings per share also declined from a loss of 3.74 kobo in 2015 to 3.88 kobo in 2016.There was also a drop in turnover both within and outside the country (comprising operations in Ghana and Sierra Leone).
Despite the poor results, Vitafoam still proposes to pay a dividend of 12 kobo per share subject to the approval of shareholders. Thus dipping into its retained earnings which stood at 2.5 billion naira as at year end 2016. This is a poor allocation of resources. The company would have been better off paying down interest on its loans. More worrisome is the increase in board compensation despite the poor results. Renumeration paid to the Chairman increased from 7.9 million naira in 2015 to 13.8 million naira in 2016. Emoluments paid to the highest earning director went up from 22.7 million in 2015 to 38.3 million naira in 2016. This clearly shows the company is not being prudent with scarce resources. Such increases could have been postponed or converted to share options for executive management.
Tech Experience Centre, a game-changer for Nigeria – Schneider Electric MD
Schneider Electric MD has given a nod to the anticipated launch of Tech Experience Centre.
Christophe Begat, Managing Director, Schneider Electric (Anglophone West Africa) has lent his voice to the expected launch of the Tech Experience Centre, describing it as a development that will firmly establish Nigeria as a major player in the global technology race.
The Tech Experience Centre is an unprecedented initiative which will bring together a number of tech giants under one roof in Lagos, Nigeria to create an immersive experience of the latest technologies in action.
Equally important, the Centre is set to be unveiled on Thursday, October 1, 2020, Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami. The event will be streamed live to millions across the world via digital channels.
Tech enthusiasts and other experts have identified the launch of the Tech Experience Centre as a potential boost to Nigeria’s technology narrative, a point that Schneider Electric boss, Begat fully espouses.
‘‘The Tech Experience Centre is highly strategic to establish Nigeria as a relevant player in the global technology industry. There is undoubtedly a market for advanced technology solutions in Nigeria that is currently underserved. This is why Schneider Electric, as a global technology provider, was keen on partnering with TD on this project to showcase the potential of technology available right here in Nigeria,’’ he disclosed.
Further, he referenced the capital flight that would be saved, while also talking up the multiplier effects the Tech Experience Centre would have in encouraging local participation and boosting the Nigerian economy.
‘‘As of date, many Nigerians are left wanting when it comes to access to the latest technologies and find themselves having to travel abroad in order to find their desired products. This platform would not only encourage Nigerians to look further inwards into the offers available locally and contribute to growing the Nigerian economy, but also encourage other technology providers to up their game in the kind of offers they make available in Nigeria to cater for this market.’’
A global specialist in energy management and automation in over 100 countries, Schneider Electric is one of the tech brands that will occupy the Tech Experience Centre. Begat says it is an opportunity to bring the latest innovations to the doorsteps of millions of Nigerians.
‘‘This project is a wonderful opportunity for Schneider Electric to get close and personal with end-consumers wishing to experience our technology in a real-life setting. The broad scope of applications of our technology solutions, from Homes & Buildings, to Industries and Infrastructure will certainly spike the interest of a wide range of visitors, from C-level to operators, looking to save costs and simplify operations for greater efficiency.
‘‘Schneider Electric is providing the Smart Home Automation solution in the Centre, which will showcase in a real home setting how one can achieve comfort and peace of mind by monitoring and controlling appliances, lighting and other variables in their home from their smart devices. We are also providing power protection equipment and high-end wiring devices.’’
While praising TD Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa’s leading technology, lifestyle and solutions distributor, the brains behind the project, the Schneider Electric MD revealed his anticipation for other winning collaborations that would emerge from the establishment of the Tech Experience Centre.
‘‘A big congratulation to TD Africa for setting a precedence with this initiative that is redefining the standards of technology in Nigeria. We are proud to count them as a valued partner! TD is a trusted partner and Schneider Electric fully adheres to their vision for this Tech Experience Centre, which promises to be a great success.
‘‘We know that it will attract a lot of visitors keen on discovering our broad range of smart solutions. We were keen to also associate with other Tech giants in this project to maximize the visibility on our technology and demonstrate how seamlessly it integrates with style into any setting,’’ he affirmed.
Board room squabble tears HealthPlus apart
HealthPlus founder, Bukky George and its Private Equity majority investors Alta Semper fight to retain control of the retail pharmaceutical company.
Nigeria’s and West Africa’s online retail pharmacy – HealthPlus, is going through a boardroom and shareholder squabble, that threatens the operations of the company. The battle for ownership of the company is now between Alta Semper, a private equity investor in the company, and Bukky George, the company’s founder, and CEO.
The dispute attracted media attention after a press release was issued, announcing Chidi Okoro as Chief Transformation Officer of the company. In a press release seen by Nairametrics, the ‘company’ reported that Mr. Okoro’s “mission is to optimize day-to-day management, and elevate the business to novel scale and profitability,” effectively removing the founder, Mrs. Bukky George, as MD/CEO.
This press release set off a chain of online and social media mudslinging, that has had both sides court public sympathy for who is in control of the company. Mrs. Bukky George issued a counter press release, denying that she had been removed as MD/CEO. According to her side of the story, she claimed the press release was not authorized by the company and termed it false.
“We wish to inform the General Public, the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, our Staff, loyal Customers, Vendors, Landlords, Bankers, and all Stakeholders that the press release was NOT authorized by the company or anybody acting on its behalf, and that the announcement of the appointment of a CTO is wholly FALSE.”
Alta Semper on the other hand maintains, “The majority of the Board of Directors of the Company, determined that a change of leadership was required if HealthPlus was to achieve its strategic goals, and the former CEO’s appointment was terminated in accordance with its terms.”
Reliable sources informed Nairametrics that several attempts from both sides to resolve the matter have failed, due to a disagreement on the terms and conditions for the injection of capital into the company. We understand that HealthPlus is going through financial challenges, and is in dire need of capital to remain in operations.
What are they saying?
Alta Semper, in a follow-up press release, alleges that the decision to remove Mrs. Bukky George “was made in full compliance with Nigerian laws, and follows a long and drawn-out process of engagement,” through which the Board sought to address multiple issues with the way the company was being managed.
- They claim that this was after a series of “significant breaches of the terms,” of Mrs. George’s engagement as CEO of the company.
- That the “board had explored a range of options that would enable her to continue to play an alternate leadership role,” but she rejected such an arrangement. However, they did not mention what they meant by ‘an alternate leadership role’ in the company.
- They explained that it “became clear that an amicable resolution was not going to be possible. and as the multiple issues persisted, urgent action was required to avoid adverse impact on the entire business, including customers, employees, suppliers, and other key stakeholders.”
- They also claim that despite the ‘former CEO’ not achieving the target they set for her, they had sought to provide financial support for HealthPlus through ‘growth capital.’
- However, “Mrs. George has not only refused to agree to offers of additional investment on commercially reasonable terms, but attempted to force ASC to restructure the existing binding contracts governing their relationship agreements, which she readily signed in 2018, after taking independent legal and financial advice.”
- Alta Semper also maintains that despite removing Bukky George as CEO, she remains a director of the company, while its appointee Chidi Okoro, oversees the day-to-day operations of the company.
- It believes this is necessary for the benefit of all stakeholders and as a result, “the majority of the Board of Directors of the Company determined that a change of leadership was required, if HealthPlus was to achieve its strategic goals, and the former CEO’s appointment was terminated in accordance with its terms.”
Bukky George issued a press release alleging that the appointment of Chidi Okoro was not authorized by the company or anybody acting on its behalf.
- She claims that the appointment of Chidi Okoro as CTO is wholly false, wrongful, illegal, and should be totally ignored.
- She also claims “it was the handiwork of unscrupulous foreign, local businesswomen, and businessmen’s intent on reaping where they have not sown, simply because they now see opportunities from the COVID-19 pandemic, like scavengers and vultures.”
- Bukky George alleges that Health Plus ran into “troubled waters primarily,” because Alta Semper failed to take over the company, thus starving it of funds required to operate.
- She also alleges that Alta Semper has an obligation to fund HealthPlus, in line with its agreements.
- She mentions that in May 2020, she instituted a legal action at the Federal High Court, seeking to stop HealthPlus African Holdings Limited, from continuing to run and manage the company “in an oppressive and prejudicial manner, and in total disregard of her interest as a member of the company,” which she ostensibly founded.
- She further cites withholding of funds, meddling with management, interference with the functions of key employees, abuse of corporate governance processes, and attempt to remove her as CEO, as what she wanted the court to stop.
- She affirmed that there is a restraining order against Alta Semper.
A. Muoka: In a leaked letter seen by Nairametrics, A. Muoka & Co, the solicitors to the company, wrote to Messrs. Afsane Jetha and Zachary Fond, the directors in HealthPlus, and also representatives of Alta Semper on the termination of the management agreement between Alta Semper and Bukky George.
- They claim that as solicitors to the company, any attempt to remove Bukky George is a flagrant disregard of the court’s order, as also claimed by Bukky George.
- They opined that the Board of Directors are the only ones empowered to remove Mrs. George as CEO. However, the board’s Chairman, Dr. Ayo Salami, and Mr. Deji Akinyanju had resigned from the board, meaning only two directors took the decision rather than 5.
- According to A. Mouka, the agreement required that Alta Semper and Bukky George appoint two directors each, and jointly agree on a Chairman for the company.
- The lawyers thus claim that because the board was depleted, the decision to remove Bukky George was “Male Fide’ (in bad faith), as Mrs. George was not given an opportunity to respond to the weighty allegations made against her, some of which are criminal in nature.
What we know so far
While both sides continue to issue several statements of denials and claims, here is what we have learned so far about the partnership.
- In April 2018, Nairametrics reported that London-based private equity manager, Alta Semper Capital agreed to invest US$18 million into HealthPlus. The investment vehicle used was HealthPlus Africa Holdings Ltd, which is incorporated in Mauritius.
- Alta Semper is a private equity manager founded by Ronald Lauder, (Chairman of Clinique Laboratories, a subsidiary of the Estée Lauder Company, and a former US ambassador to Austria), Richard Parsons (Chairman of Rockefeller Foundation, former Chairman of Citigroup and Chairman/CEO of Time Warner Group), and Afsane Jetha.
- The new funding was to enable the company to expand its retail footprint and enhance its competitive position.
- It had approximately 80 locations across the country at the time and currently has about 90 branches.
- HealthPlus Ltd is owned by HealthPlus Africa Holdings Ltd, with a 94,998 ownership, while Bukky George owns 5,002 shares; thus, 94.9% ownership and 5.1% ownership respectively.
- Nairametrics understands that Bukky George owns less than 50% of HealthPlus Africa Holdings, while Alta Semper owns majority shares in the holding company, estimated at between 53% and 55%.
- Sources inform Nairametrics that HealthPlus makes about N5 billion in revenue annually.
Crypto robber steals $15 million
Eminence, an upcoming project being built by Yearn’s Andre Cronje has been drained of $15 million.
The DeFi crypto community’s strong appetite for unverified code has once again ended in pains for investors, with the losses amounting to millions of dollars.
Eminence, an upcoming project being built by Yearn’s Andre Cronje, has been drained of $15 million.
Eminence is an unfinished “economy for a gaming multiverse.” In a series of tweets, Cronje gave a detailed analysis of the cyber robbery.
“Yesterday we finished the concept behind our new economy for a gaming multiverse. Eminence. As per my usual methodology, I deployed our staging contracts on ETH so we can continue developing on it.”
1/x First, the data;
1. Yesterday we finished the concept behind our new economy for a gaming multiverse. Eminence. As per my usual methodology, I deployed our staging contracts on ETH so we can continue developing on it.
2. Eminence is at least ~3+ weeks still away
— Andre Cronje (@AndreCronjeTech) September 29, 2020
He spoke on the operational details of the project:
“These contracts, not the ecosystem are final, yesterday alone you will notice I deployed 2 separate batches of the contracts, this is my usual “test in prod” process.
“We started releasing some of the art teasers to showcase all the different clans in the game on Twitter. We posted the first clan “Spartans”. And I went to bed.
“Around ~3 AM I was messaged awake to find out a) almost 15m was deposited into the contracts b) the contracts were exploited for the full 15m and c) 8m was sent to my yearn: deployer account.”
However, Cronje later announced that the Yearn treasury would help in refunding users back the $8 million he received from the hacker according to a snapshot of EMN balances prior to the hack.
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