Welcome to Nairametrics’ company focus, a weekly column that aggregates key information about small-cap companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. This is for the benefit of the investing public, particularly those who may be considering acquiring new shares soon. This week’s focus is Rak Unity Petroleum Company Plc, an oil and gas company that has been operating in Nigeria for thirty seven years.
Get to know everything there is to know about this company’s business model, its competition, financial performance, and more.
Corporate Information about the company
Initially incorporated as a limited liability company on December 20th 1982, Rak Unity Petroleum Company Plc is an indigenous oil and gas company with headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria. According to available information, the company is specialised in the merchandising and distribution of petroleum products across Nigeria. Examples of these products are: petrol/premium motor spirit, kerosene, lubricants, automotive gas oil (AGO), gas, etc.
It should be noted that Rak Unity Petroleum Company Plc is a subsidiary of Toparte Nigeria Limited, a little-known entity which owns about 85% of the company’s shares.
About the company’s segments
Moving on, information available on the company’s website states that it operates along three key segments which include: its retail outlets, bulk supply services, and dump/delivery services. The first segment entails ownership of filling stations which are situated in major cities and towns across Nigeria. These filling stations sell the products for which the company is known, albeit at retail prices.
The retail segment is completely different from the bulk segment, which entails the importation of large volumes of petroleum products that are then sold (wholesale price) to other smaller companies that are also engaged in the business of distributing such products. Similar to this is the third segment, which has to do with the construction of petroleum product dump sites, which are also managed by Rak Unity Petroleum on behalf of paying clients, who are typically companies that are also engaged in the same business.
The company’s target market
Rak Unity Petroleum Company Plc primarily targets retail petroleum product consumers in Nigeria. These are everyday consumers who buy PMS for their cars, diesel for their generators, lubricants for their engines, gas and kerosene for their stoves, etc. It also targets commercial/industrial users of such products such as manufacturers who need large quantities of diesel to generate electricity for their plants.
In the same vein, Rak Unity Petroleum offers services to other players in the downstream sector of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry. As we can see from its segmentation above, the company offers various services to competitors, services ranging from bulk importation of products to the provision and maintenance of storage facilities.
The company’s listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and ownership structure
Our company focus subject was listed on the Alternative Securities Market (ASeM) of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, on March 21st, 1989. This was barely two years after its conversion to a public company on the 16th of November, 1987 and some seven years after its incorporation. Information available on the company’s website claims that it is “the first Nigerian indigenous player to be listed on the Stock Exchange.” And this claim might as well be true.
The company currently has a market capitalisation of merely N22,649,813.20, according to the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Its shares outstanding stands at just N56,624,533. The last trading activity on the company’s shares was on October 11th, 2018 when about 400 units of shares were traded at N0.40. This amount (i.e., N0.40) unsurprisingly remains the company’s unchanged share price till date.
Why no one seems to be interested in this stock?
As noted in the beginning of this piece, Rak Unity Petroleum Company Plc has one major investor who controls the ownership of the company’s shareholdings. This company is Toparte Nigeria Limited. According to information obtained from Rak Unity Petroleum’s full-year 2017 financial year result, Toparte Nigeria Limited owns a total of 48,131,159 units of shares which amounts to about 85% of the total shareholding. This leaves other investors (including the investing public), with just 8,493,734 units of shares (15%).
The adverse effect of this situation is that the company’s stock lacks liquidity. The absence of free float, therefore, makes it impossible to trade the stock. A 2015 Nairametrics analysis of this same issue predicted that the company’s share price, which at the time was N0.50, would remain unchanged for a long time to come. This is due to the lack of liquidity which meant that trading of the stock was nearly non-existent and continues to be.
Nearly four years since 2015, the share price has declined from N0.50 to N0.40. Liquidity is still almost non-existent, and no one seems to be buying or selling the stock, despite the rather consistent dividend payments the company continues to dole out.
Financial performance and comparison with competitors
There are about eleven oil and gas companies that are listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Out of this total, about eight operate in the downstream sector; engaging only in the merchandising of petroleum products. The remaining ones are either mainly focused in oil exploration, or have business models that enable them to combine both exploration and the sale of refined petroleum products.
For the sake of fairness, we compared the unaudited Q3 2018 financial statement of Rak Unity Petroleum Company Plc with those of the other NSE-listed companies that also operate in the downstream sector. Below are our findings:
- Total Nigeria Plc generated a revenue of N226.9 billion in Q3 2018, with a profit after tax of N7.6 billion.
- MRS Oil Nigeria Plc made a revenue of about N76 billion and a loss after tax of N426.7 million
- Forte Oil Plc’s Q3 2018 revenue stood at N94.8 billion. The company made a profit after tax of N78.7 million.
- Eterna Plc made a revenue of N205.3 billion with a profit after tax of N1.1 billion.
- Conoil Plc made N75.8 billion in revenue and a profit after tax of N1.5 billion.
- 11 Plc generated N125 billion worth of revenue, and a profit after tax of N7.8 billion.
- RakUnity Petroleum Company Plc generated a revenue of N7 billion and a loss after tax of N2.6 million.
Note how the company generated the least revenue and still ran at a loss during the nine month period. Performance in Q3 2017 was much better, in that the company had generated a revenue of N7.7 billion and made a profit after tax of N57.7 million.
Brief look at the company’s board members
There are six key members of Rak Unity Petroleum’s board of directors, according to information made available by the company. These individuals include the Managing Director, Engineer James Ogungbemi, the Chairman, Mr Edo-Abasi Bassey Ukpong, and Mr O.C. Okonkwo, a Non-Executive Director. Others are: Mrs Nonny Patricia Ugboma, Mrs Moroti Adedoyin-Adeyinka, Mrs Aderonke Olayemi Onadeko, and Mr Said Moddibo Ahmed, all of whom are Non-Executive Directors.
Recommendation for the company
Rak Unity Petroleum Company Plc should, perhaps, consider a review of its shareholding structure. A possible divestment by the majority shareholder could enable other shareholders to come onboard, along with the much-needed capital that could help drive growth.
MainOne Cable: A decade-old journey to bridging the digital divide in West Africa
In just a decade, MainOne has grown in leaps and bounds from its little beginnings to becoming recognized as one of Africa’s biggest cable companies.
MainOne Cable Company Nigeria Limited recently celebrated 10 years in the business of bridging the digital divide in West Africa.
As the provider of the first privately owned, open access 7,000-kilometer undersea high capacity cable submarine connection in West Africa, MainOne continues to attract the interest of individuals, corporate bodies and government institutions across the continent.
However, MainOne was among six telecom operators recently mandated by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to submit their yearly financial statements, within 7 months after the end of their financial year.
The company, though celebrated, is not without its challenges, which its financial statements would make clearer. However as we await the submission of the statement, Nairametrics looks into MainOne in this week’s Company Profile to understand what makes it tick.
How it started
Funke Opeke returned to Nigeria in 2008, where she was faced with ridiculously poor internet connectivity, so she decided to do something about it.
She started Mainstreet Technologies, the developers of MainOne Cable in the same year, to serve as a service and network solutions provider, not only in Nigeria but in West Africa.
What is now recognized as one of Africa’s biggest cable companies started with all of Opeke’s savings as start-up capital. She encountered stiff challenges related to raising more capital to take care of the foundational works, feasibility studies, business plans, and technical plans. However, the company was able to pull through.
On April 28, 2008, Main Street Technologies awarded a turnkey supply contract for the MainOne Cable System to Tyco Telecommunications. After completing and commissioning the project, MainOne went live on July 22, 2010.
The company has since grown in leaps and bounds from its little beginnings. Its connections extend from Portugal to West Africa, with Cable Landings Stations along the route in Accra (Ghana) and later to other countries in Africa like Dakar (Senegal), Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), and Lagos (Nigeria).
The Phase1 cable system spans 6,900 kilometres. Additional connectivity extending to Angola and South Africa occurred in the Phase2 of the project.
In 2015, the company started operations of MDXi, said to be Nigeria’s largest Tier III Data Center, and extended a submarine cable from Lagos to Cameroon.
Operations and unprecedented glitch
MainOne is in the business of providing telecommunication services and offers wholesale broadband services through a system of cable networks and fiber optic infrastructures.
With its services acclaimed to come at fair charges, MainOne Cable has in its clientele, telecommunication operators and providers, governments, large enterprises, and schools across 10 West African countries.
The company claims that its decision to provide its services at rates that are less than the current international bandwidth prices in the region is to encourage local content development via skills transfer of critical networking technologies and job creation, with the location of the network operational center (NOC) in Nigeria.
Main Street Technologies is also backed by influential investors such as the Africa Finance Corporation, the Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF), and a couple of Nigerian banks.
In 2018, the company recorded a 74-minute glitch during a network upgrade that caused some Google global traffic to be misrouted through China. This temporary disruption attracted immediate reactions from critics, but the company assured that stringent processes had been put in place to prevent a repeat of such outage in the future. To its credit, there has been no other record of such.
In an interview with Nairametrics in 2017, Opeke stated that the company was yet to attain profitability, but was making strategic investments that would pay off in the future. However, with the last publicly available statement being that of 2014, there is no way to ascertain what level of progress has been made in the last 6 years.
The 2014 financial statement was audited by KPMG Professional Services at the time when Babatunde Dada was still CFO. The report showed progressive growth in the company’s fortunes from 2011 to 2014. However, all of the company’s expenses went up, despite the various cost optimization programs implemented.
Profit before tax grew from N146.8 million in 2013 to N189.6 million in 2014, while total revenue grew from N1.1 billion in 2013 to N1.7 billion in 2014.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and other incidents also took their toll on the company’s finances. During the company’s 10 years celebration recently, Opeke pointed out that the cost of the company’s services had become slightly expensive due to power challenges and the currency volatility in the country.
However, she said that the company was working towards deploying smarter policies to further realise its vision. She also noted that the company was in the process of winding down its foreign debt obligations and increasing exposure to Naira loans, to shield itself from the impact of the fluctuating exchange rates, since its customers paid for services in naira.
A decade after its establishment, Opeke still runs MainOne Cable as the Chief Executive Officer, while Anil Verma serves as the Chief Technical Officer.
Solanke Abimbola, Chief Finance Officer; Tinuola Ipadeola, Head of Corporate Services and Development; Gbenga Adegbiji, Chief Operations Officer MDXi; Abayomi Adebanjo, General Counsel; and Olawale Fayose, Company Secretary.
Heading the Board of Directors is Fola Adeola as Chairman, while Dapo Oshinusi, Taiwo Okeowo, Bennedikter Molokwu, Innocent Ike, Souleymane Keita, Banji Fehintola, Sipho Makhubela, George Olaka, Sandeep Fakun, and Praveen Beeharry, are all Directors.
With this calibre of talents and seasoned professionals on its management team, the mystery shrouding its financials becomes worrisome.
The over $400 million infrastructural investments in West Africa have made noticeable impacts across the economy and earned MainOne a number of recognitions and awards.
In 2019, MainOne was awarded the Datacloud Africa Award for Excellence in Data Center (Africa) and Africa Cloud Service Provider of the Year, Nigeria Business Leadership Award for Connectivity and Data Centre Service Provider of the Year, and BoICT Award for Best Tier III Data Centre in Nigeria – MDXi.
Others are NTITA Telecoms Wholesale Provider of the Year (2017), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry Award for Excellence in Broadband Infrastructure (2016), Frost & Sullivan Best Practices winner for the Nigerian Data Center Customer Value Leaderships Award (2014), Ghana Telecoms Awards: Telecom Wholesale Carrier of the Year (2013), and Nigerian Telecoms Awards: Broadband Company of the Year (2011), African Telecom Hall of fame – Best Telecoms project of the year (2010), amongst others.
Besides acting in line with the new NCC policy, the Management of MainOne will have to do something about making the financial reports available to the public. Not only will this satisfy stakeholders’ curiosity, but it will also keep interested and potential investors abreast with the progress made so far and help them determine where assistance is required.
Kuda Bank: Changing the face of banking for the millennial
Kuda Bank’s model saves conventional banks the heavy cost of running network branches, further translating into free banking services for customers.
The now-frequent presence of agitated customers in long queues in the banking hall emphasizes the need for a wholly digital bank.
Kuda Bank is the first institution that comes close to meeting this need, where customers can carry out all their banking transactions without having to visit a physical branch.
Kuda Bank, founded by Babs Ogundeyi and Mustapha Musty, started out in 2016 as Kudimoney (“the bank of the free”), online-only savings, and lending platform, and had gone through a couple of funding rounds before transitioning into Nigeria’s first actual digital-only bank without a physical location.
Speaking after Kudimoney got its full banking license from the Central Bank of Nigeria and transitioned into Kuda Bank, Babs Ogundeyi said: “We’re excited to usher in a new era in consumer banking and serve the many Africans, who we believe are frustrated with traditional banks Starting with Nigeria, we’ll launch a new kind of bank with a continued focus on improving our members’ financial lives rather than trying to burden them with hidden fees and excessive charges”
This move made it clear that Kuda bank is not just another savings app or mobile wallet but an actual bank. The bank’s deposits are insured by the Nigerian deposit insurance corporation (NDIC).
A model for the Gen Z
Kuda bank is modeled for the Millennial and the Gen ‘z’ internet-savvy population, providing them the same banking services irrespective of location, but without the time and stress that comes with conventional banking.
It is an all-round improvement of the banking services. For instance, users can open a Kuda account by simply downloading the app and signing up, after which they get a free debit card delivered at no cost nationwide within two weeks.
With these, one can easily save the time of queuing in the bank and resolve complaints from a mobile device without having to visit any bank.
To make it easy for users to resolve transaction issues that may occur while using the app, Kuda provides the 30-digit session ID for every transaction.
This isn’t an industry standard and normally, you have to call your bank to request this reference number when things go wrong.
Anticipating user needs and providing convenient solutions, in Kuda’s thinking, should define the age of digital banking.
Kuda Bank also has an automatic savings option where users can save automatically and earn up t0 15% annual interest.
The bank charges, card, and account maintenance fees which have become a nightmare to Account holders, do not apply to the Bank.
As part of the launch promotion, the bank offered 25 free interbank transfers monthly for all customers who opened a Kuda account before January 1, 2020 while extra transfers to other banks cost N10 each.
Kuda has a wide branch network where customers can make deposits for free, thanks to its partnership with three of Nigeria’s biggest banks.
Debit cards are also issued by access bank, pursuant to a license from Visa International & Verve.
Speaking at the bank’s first town hall meeting at Radisson Blu Hotel, Ikeja, CEO, and founder Babs Ogundeyi explained that the model saves the bank heavy cost of running network branches, and this further translates into free banking services for customers.
(READ MORE: Protecting your money from fraudsters)
The bank also offers a high level of security to protect customers’ personal information from unauthorized use, and allows them to freeze debit cards from the app when it goes missing.
Other security features include; a validation mechanism for every user, a circuit-breaking mechanism that flags down transactions higher than the usual range. This way, if a customer that usually does ₦50, 000 transfers, suddenly attempt an N500, 000 transfer, it will be flagged to alert the customer of a potential mistake, or of a fraudulent transaction.
Partnerships and collaborations
Besides its partnerships with Access Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, and Zenith Bank, Kuda Bank recently became the first Nigerian bank to be added as part of the Binance P2P payment options, making it possible for people carrying out Peer trading of cryptocurrency on Binance to make and receive payments with their Kuda Account.
Its ‘Spend and Save’ feature is similar to what is found on other Fintech apps, and it automates the removal of 2% of every expense made from the user’s balance as savings for a rainy-day fund.
Like other competing Fintech, Kuda Bank also has to do a KYC feature that verifies user information using the Bank Verification Number (BVN).
But the absence of a physical branch means that Kuda bank services cannot be used by a first-time account holder.
There is the hope that the bank would address this issue with a BVN feature that gives it independence from other banks, but the technology with which this is to be achieved is not yet certain. It may also consider providing loans.
More players in the space means that in no time, the competition will be based on customer-friendly rates and excellent services.
We wanted to help users pay themselves first – Piggyvest
In a chat with Nairametrics, Joshua Chibueze talked about the idea that sparked the birth of PiggyVest.
Imagine that you put all your money in one jar, and all your bills in another jar. Chances are that the jar of bills is the one that would never run dry.
Month after month, people spend a huge percentage of their income on living expenses from rent to food, transportation, utilities, and the likes. More often than not, they forget to set aside a little money for themselves. Simply put, they pay everyone else but themselves.
This was the concept around which Piggyvest (formerly Piggybank) was built. Speaking at the Nairametrics Business Half Hour show, Co-founder of Piggyvest, Joshua Chibueze, said that the purpose of Piggyvest was to help people create an automated system, where they could pay themselves first, by setting aside a fixed amount or percentage, before making other expenses.
Describing the Fintech, Joshua posed a number of questions, “Piggyvest is that place you keep money that is your own money. Beyond having multiple bank accounts, how do you pay yourself? You work month after month, and pay bills, but where do you pay yourself? Where do you keep money that belongs to you and only you? How do you plan towards those heavyweight bills.”
How a piggybank tweet birthed PiggyVest
On the last day of December 2015, a lady posted a tweet that went viral. The tweet detailed how she had saved N365,000 by faithfully setting aside N1000 in a wooden piggy bank every day of the year. According to her, she ensured to pay herself, by setting aside the sum before making any other expense.
As people continued to share the post and comment about how they might not have the discipline to accomplish it, Joshua and his team (Odunayo Eweniyi, Somto Ifezue, and others, who were working on PushCV at the time), decided to find a way to digitize the process, so salary earners and the self-employed could also set aside money for their personal projects and financial goals. They sampled thoughts from some of their PushCV clients and found it was a concept many would really be interested in.
Three weeks later, the first version of Piggybank had been launched, although it took till April 2016, before the fully tested version was ready for use.
“It was not all easy because we were trying to do something no one had done in Nigeria. The other companies doing something similar were outside the country, so all we had to rely on was the customer feedback.”
No member of the team had any banking experience, so building the app was a total reflection of customer feedback and user experience. Notwithstanding, they understood that people were concerned about the security of funds; hence, they gradually progressed to the use of bank-level security to ensure against hacking.
In subsequent years, the team added an extra layer of security with a two-factor authentication preventing transactions, unless the user could provide the password and the answer to the security question.
Other steps include; SMS verification instead of email verification, as e-mails are more susceptible to hacking than mobile numbers.
From 1,000 to over 1 million users
At the outset, the intention was to get to the first 1000 users. “We felt that if we could get to 1000 users, it would be worth it. We ran on our funds and did not make any money in the first year, because we were still trying to understand our users and find our feet,” he said.
After successfully helping users save 21 million in the first year and over 70 million in the second year; the company attracted investors, and by 2018 they had secured a $ 1.1million round in seed funding. This came as a plus, because the business had grown organically at the time, and was already profitable enough to sustain its operations.
Fintech versus Asset managers
Piggybank first partnered with a couple of Microfinance banks, before partnering with a Commercial bank. In 2018, they raised some $1.1million from investors and acquired a microfinance bank license, a money lenders license, and a cooperative license, allowing them to operate a Trustee agreement with an external asset manager.
There are products tailored for different reasons, so people trying to establish their savings culture could go for an option that allows them to save consistently, and withdraw once in a quarter. There are also options that could allow users to steadily build an investment culture, and others meant for people saving towards a project.
In April 2019, the company rebranded and became Piggyvest. It currently serves over a million users, helping them save and invest “billions of Naira every month that they would probably be tempted to badly spend.”
The more interesting part is that there are no fees for the services, but customers get to make some money, as Piggyvest splits the returns with customers; however, users may have to pay a 2.5% charge, when a customer withdraws his funds before the agreed date.
Breaking the trust challenge
Financial institutions in Nigeria generally have to deal with the challenge of trust deficit among the customers, but this is even more for fintechs like Piggyvest. According to Joshua, despite taking added measures to secure customers’ funds, any delayed transaction tends to breed some distrust among the users, and the company has to deal with this by providing information.
“This is the reason why we don’t do more of marketing but prefer to let people sell us with their testimonies. Customers tend to believe more the testimonials from other satisfied customers, and this how we have gotten over 1.5 million users and improved customer trust,” he explained.
When the economy went into lockdown, the business showed itself to be pandemic proof, as savings improved after the initial shock. The remote working policy was introduced, so that even in the aftermath of the lockdown, operations continued unhindered.
“We are a customer-centric brand, and the feedback from customers is our motivation. We are out to give them the best experience ever,” he concluded.