Since colonial times, foreigners from Europe and the Americas have been living and working in Nigeria. Initially, they were either referred to as colonial masters or missionaries. Fast forward to the 21st century, these foreign workers like to be called expatriates, even as they prefer to live in some of the most exclusive neighborhoods of Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt. As a matter of fact, some of Nigeria’s most exclusive neighborhoods were once predominantly dominated by foreigners who developed and resided in them with their families.
A significant number of expatriates in Nigeria today oversee some of the country’s biggest companies. They play such roles as Chief Executive Officers, Chief Operating Officers, Chief Financial Officers, and more. Interestingly, they are not all Europeans and Americans.
Why is this the case?
There are two main reasons why these foreigners are hired to lead Nigeria’s biggest corporations. The first reason is the fact that a significant number of Nigeria’s big corporations have foreign entities as majority shareholders. For instance, MTN Nigeria Plc and Nigerian Breweries Plc are both subsidiaries of South Africa’s MTN Group Limited and Amsterdam-based Heineken. In view of this, it is understandable when the owners of such companies bring in their people to better represent their interests.
The second reason is the fact that foreign nationals (especially those from Europe and North America) are often thought to possess better expertise than their Nigerian counterparts. As such, they are treasured, even as they get to earn quite a lot of money in executive compensation.
It should also be noted that there is a growing number of Africans who are now deemed fit to lead multinationals in Nigeria, depending on their educational and professional pedigree and experience. This is all thanks to globalization, which has exposed many Africans to the same level of educational qualifications/expertise as the Europeans and Americans.
Is this the case in other countries?
Across most of the world’s advanced economies, it is very rare to find Nigerians (and Africans at large) leading the biggest companies in such places. The exclusive right is usually reserved for the citizens, mainly because there are usually far too many of them with experience and expertise to lead.
The story is a little different across Africa, especially so in Nigeria. Besides South Africa, Egypt and maybe Ethiopia – where a sizable number of some of the biggest companies such as Shoprite Holdings, Naspers, Arab Contractors, and Ethiopian Airlines are led by indigenes – foreign expatriates usually call the shots in some of the biggest companies on the African continent.
For the sake of clarity, not all of Nigeria’s big corporations are headed by foreigners; however, a significant number of them are. For this week’s corporate personality on Nairametrics, we have decided to look at some of these foreign CEOs in Nigeria. Get to know them.
Jordi Borrut Bel, the Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Breweries Plc
Mr Bel was appointed the CEO of Nigerian Breweries Plc in early 2018 after a horrible scandal forced his predecessor (Nico Vervelde) out of office. He is of European descent, and a seasoned professional.
Checks by Nairametrics shows that Bel earns as much as N190 million in annual executive compensations. This is less than the N340 million that his predecessor earned.
2. Ferdi Moolman, the CEO of MTN Nigeria Plc
This South African business executive has been leading MTN Nigeria Plc since 2015. Much like Bel, he too took over from a predecessor who was ousted due to a major scandal. Before joining MTN Nigeria, Moolman already had stints in such companies as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Europ Assistance, and Super Group.
The University of South Africa alumnus earns a whooping N571 million in annual executive compensations, according to information contained in the company’s 2019 audited financial reports. This makes him one of Nigeria’s highest-paid CEOs.
3. Michael Puchercos, the Chief Executive Officer of Lafarge Africa Plc
Mr Pucheros is an accomplished professional with a very impressive resume. The Frenchman is an alumnus of the Ecole Polytechnique (1976) and the Ecole Nationale du Génie Rural, des Eaux et des Forêts (1981). As the CEO of one of Nigeria’s biggest cement companies, he earns N312 million in annual executive compensations.
4. Mauricio Alarcon, Managing Director of Nestle Nigeria Plc
This Mexican-born CEO is an alumnus of the prestigious Manchester University in the United Kingdom, where he studied Engineering, Manufacturing, and Management between 1992 and 1997. He has been in the employ of Nestle Global since 1999.
Prior to assuming his current role in Nigeria back in 2016, he was Country Manager at Nestle Cote d’Ivoire from September 2014 to May 2016. He has also served as the Managing Director of Nestle Atlantic Cluster between June 2016 and September 2016. Note that this cluster comprises Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea, and Cote d’Ivoire.
Checks by Nairametrics confirmed that he earns N210 million in executive compensations per annum.
5. Baker Magunda, CEO of Guinness Nigeria Plc
This Ugandan professional was appointed CEO of one of Nigeria’s top brewers in May 2018. He is a graduate of Makerere University in Uganda and Makerere University Business School.
He was once the MD of Uganda Breweries Limited between February 2006 and July 2008. He was also the Managing Director of East African Breweries Limited, a position he held from July 2008 until July 2012.
Other stints include his roles as the Chairman and Managing Director of Diageo Guinness Cameroon, Managing Director of Meta Abo Brewery (A Diageo subsidiary), and Managing Director of Diageo Ethiopia and the Indian Ocean.
In his current position as the CEO of Guinness Nigeria Plc, he earns N461 million in executive compensations, according to information obtained from the company’s 2018 audited financial reports.
6. Yaw Nsarkoh, MD of Unilever Nigeria Plc
Nsarkoh is a Ghanaian citizen who is also the Managing Director of Unilever Nigeria Plc. He has had a long career with Unilever, having headed several regional headquarters of the global manufacturing company, particularly in Africa. He has also served as a Strategic Assistant to Unilever’s President for Asia, Africa, Central, and Eastern Europe. Other top positions he has occupied at the company include African Regional Brand Manager, Production Manager for Unilever Ghana, etc.
He studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. He also holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Management from Henley Management College, Henley-on-Thames, United Kingdom.
According to information obtained from the company’s financial report, Nsarkoh earns N330 million in annual executive compensations.
7. Ravindra Singh Singhvi, the COO of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc
Mr Singvi is an Indian national who was appointed as the Chief Operating Officer of Dangote Sugar in August 2018. Singhvi, who holds a law degree from the University of Judhpur, is also a chartered accountant. He reportedly has nearly 40 years of professional experience.
8. Lars Ritcher, the CEO of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc
Ritcher has been serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Julius Berger since October of last year. Prior to his appointment, he played various roles within the company over a seven-year period. The German citizen is a trained civil engineer. He earned N319 million in executive compensations last year.
9. Christos Giannopoulos, the CEO of PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc
Information contained in the company’s financial results indicates that Giannopoulos is Greek. He has, however, been living and working in Nigeria for the past seventeen years. He joined PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc in 2002 as the Head of Sales. Since then, he has gradually risen through the ranks to become the company’s CEO in 2009. He earns a total of N96.9 million in executive compensations, according to information contained in the company’s audited 2019 financial result.
10. Imran Barry, CEO of Total Nigeria Plc
This Ivorian is was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of Total Nigeria in July 2018. Before coming to Nigeria, he headed key positions in Total’s operations in Cameroun, Uganda, and elsewhere. The Civil Engineering graduate has over 20 years of professional experience. Checks by Nairametrics show that he earned N115 million in executive compensations last year.
11. Annabelle Degroot, CEO of International Breweries Plc
Mrs Degroot is a British citizen who was appointed in 2017 as the President (West Africa) of AB Inbev which owns majority shares in International Breweries Plc. She has some 25 years of professional experience cutting across various companies, including stints at PwC, GSK, etc. In her capacity as the CEO of International Breweries, Mrs Degroot earned N18.5 million in 2018. She is an alumnus of Oxford University.