Sometime in early 2012, a wealthy, sophisticated, and beautiful middle-aged Nigerian businesswoman walked into a Lagos courtroom to testify before a judge. She had just filed a lawsuit before the court in a desperate bid to salvage her late husband’s investments in the Tourist Company of Nigeria Plc (TCN). She was also understandably trying to secure her financial future and that of her children. Her husband had just died, and she suddenly found herself thrust in the position of the sole breadwinner of the family.
The woman is Mrs Maiden Ibru, the widow of renowned businessman and politician, Alex Ibru. During her testimony on that fateful day, she made some pretty shocking revelations, albeit with some dramatics. She told everyone gathered in the courtroom that just as she was walking in, she supposedly saw the apparition of her late husband telling her to fight. So, fight she did, by spilling all the secrets about the company.
Apparently, all was not well with the Tourist Company of Nigeria Plc, a hospitality company that owns one of Nigeria’s oldest luxury hotels – the Federal Palace Hotel. Perhaps no one would have known about TCN’s woes if Mrs Ibru hadn’t instituted her lawsuit and subsequently given her bombshell testimony. However, the sad thing is the fact that though it’s been seven years since Maiden Ibru’s court appearance, all is not still well with the company.
Standard Alliance Insurance plc: What happened to the most capitalized insurance company of 2010?
After a 39-year journey of high and lows, shareholders await Awodiya to deliver on the promise of profitability.
Standard Alliance Insurance Plc recently held its Annual General Meeting, the first in the last four years. The financial reports received at the AGM were that of FY 2017 and 2018, bringing up the million-dollar question; what is going on with this underwriter?
Nairametrics Company of the Week focuses on the 39-year-old highly ranked insurance company, its past achievements, and current realities.
Almost 40 years ago, the company was incorporated in July 1981 as a Private Limited Liability Company. At this time, it was known as Jubilee Insurance Company Limited until August 1996 when it became Standard Alliance Insurance Company Limited.
It became a public liability company on 30 May 2002 and listed its stocks on the main board of the Nigerian Stock Exchange in December 2003.
The Company has an authorized capital of N7 billion with 14billion ordinary shares at 50kobo each. Major investors include Gemrock Management Company Limited which holds 20.09%, Standard Alliance Investments Limited holding 19.81%, and FCMB Plc holding 5.42%.
The ‘men’ who run the show
On the board of directors, the company has a team that manages its affairs from the top level to its subsidiaries.
Mr. Johnson Egu Chukwu heads the board as Chairman and was recently reappointed into the position; while Mr. Omotayo Awodiya, a seasoned Insurance Practitioner, recently became the Managing Director, succeeding Mr. Richard Ododo who had barely spent a year on the job.
Others on the board include Mr. Oduniyi Odusi (Executive Director), Mallam Haruna Mohammed Uwais F.IoD, Chief Uzoma Igbonwa, and Agnes Okiemute Umukoro as Directors.
Like any other insurance provider, Standard Alliance Insurance plc provides a wide array of insurance products for its customers. There is aviation insurance, bonds insurance, erection Insurance, contractors/all risk, Fidelity Guarantee, Goods-in-Transit, and machinery breakdown insurance, amongst others.
To provide a comprehensive cover for relevant insurance products, the company also has arrangements with re-insurance companies both locally and internationally for full customer protection.
In the business of insurance, there will always be the issue of customers who think the insurance packages are too expensive, and it is to protect against such scenarios that the Research and Risk Management departments carry out research on insurable risks and insurance costs, and makes practical cost-saving recommendations to the benefit of its customers.
There are also consultancy services to cover existing but unidentified insurable risks so that customers are advised on how to handle issues that disrupt their business operations, but are generally considered uninsurable.
The company also prides itself on its swift processing of claims; although, there are not many testimonials to buttress this.
Standard Alliance also appears to have positioned itself in line with advancing technologies, so that bulk of its processes and operations are now fully automated. With a simple call or email, a customer can start processing claims or make inquiries about products and services. The hundreds of employees and over a thousand agents across the country also provide an advantage for the company, giving it more leads and subsequently customers.
Its seamless operations are a result of an efficient blend of the human resources and world-class applications used to drive quality services.
Any returns for investors?
Licensed by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) to transact general and special risk insurance businesses, SA Insurance, has grown to become one of the most respected insurance companies both in products and service delivery. So, how has this translated into its profit and losses in the almost 40 years of operation?
Just last month, the company held its 22nd Annual General Meeting (AGM), the first in the last four years. At this AGM, the financial statements for FY 2017 and 2018 were received.
The reports showed a major 88.41% decline in pre-tax profit for 2018 from N277.766 million recorded in FY 2017. The company also recorded a 26% decline in gross premium written at N3.757 billion in 2018, down from the N5.057 billion in 2017.
The company made a Profit after Tax of N58.5 million in 2017 as against N1.3 billion loss recorded in the comparative period of 2016, and Gross Premium written increased from N4.3 billion in 2016 to N4.8 billion in 2017.
Although 2017 financials showed an improvement from the previous financial year, in terms of Gross Premium written, Profit before Tax, and Profit after Tax, the underwriter had run losses amounting to billions of naira in the preceding years.
In the absence of financial reports and AGMs, shareholders have obviously been starved of updates and returns on their investments in the last few years. To worsen matters, the company has been severely sanctioned by the NSE in the last couple of years for failing to file its financial reports.
The real situation of things
Although the company has several awards on its shelf, most of them are almost a decade old. SA Insurance Plc won the 29th edition of the Presidential Merit Award of the Nigerian Stock Exchange Market, having clinched the top spot among all quoted insurance companies.
It was the Most Capitalized Insurance Company of the Year 2010, the Insurance Company of the Year, World Class Customer Service Insurance Company of the Decade, IT Compliant Insurance Company of the Year, and Safety Performance Achievement Award in the Insurance Sector, all in the year 2010.
In 2011, the company bagged The Diamond Eye Award for Quality and Excellence in Switzerland.
However, shareholders are no longer finding solace in the past awards but instead seek returns. For obvious reasons, the SA Insurance stocks are also not liquid, so investors will not even find it easy to sell off their shares.
Shareholders will now wait on Awodiya to deliver on the mouth-watering promises of profitability he gave on the assumption of office as the company’s MD. All eyes will be on the lookout for the 2020 Q4 financials, but in the meantime, it does not look like there would be any buying or selling of the company’s stocks as NSE had suspended the company from trading shares in 2018 and again in 2019 due to its failure to turn in the required financials.
Corporate Story: Intriguing tale of Seven-Up’s ugly fight for market share in Nigeria
For many years, competition in the Nigerian soft drink market was mainly between Coca-Cola and Seven-Up but in 2014, Rite Food came and disrupted the space.
It was early morning on Wednesday, November 13th 2019, and Ziad Maalouf was not asleep. He could not sleep, not with his mind burdened by what had become a serious problem facing Seven-Up Bottling Company, which he oversees. It was part of his job as the Managing Director to figure out a solution to this challenge. And that was exactly what he was doing as he sat in his study that early morning, typing furiously on his computer.
By 4:37 am that morning, Maalouf had sent out an internal memo and copied 25 top executives of the soft drink manufacturing company. In the memo, he made it clear that he was ready to declare war against the company’s competitors. He would not rest until the war was over and Seven-Up had emerged victorious, he declared.
But the internal memo leaked
Cement Wars: The battle for Cement dominance between Ibeto vs Dangote
A story of the battle for Cement dominance in Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria.
A story of the battle for Cement dominance in Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria. How one man surmounted rivals, both big and small, to become the undisputed King of African Cement and another battled with the guardians of the corridors of power.
On a cold afternoon in November 2005, Federal Government operatives, acting on orders from above, swooped down on a busy factory in the oil rich city of Port Harcourt. They were under instructions to seal off a warehouse whose operations had contravened a government policy – a policy that would later prove decisive in a brutal race for market share in an industry worth over N1 trillion.
At first, the closure appeared to be due to a mix-up between an agency of the Government and the owners of the warehouse. It was expected to be resolved in a matter of days by the billionaire Chairman of the company. Emissaries were dispatched to help resolve whatever misunderstanding may have led to the seemingly excessive act by the government.
As days turned into weeks and weeks into months, it dawned on the owners of the multi-billion-naira conglomerate, which was based in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria, that they were dealing with powers that stretched far beyond the red sands of the South East. Something had to be done to resolve this issue. At stake was not only the reputation of the company, but billions of naira in inventory that could erode all the wealth that had been built over the years.
Flashback – School boy
It was January 22, 1966 in the bustling suburb of Nnewi in Anambra state, South-Eastern Nigeria. Nigeria had just witnessed a deadly coup one week earlier, and the mood in the country was still tense. But for a certain household, a major decision had to be made. Cyril, the eldest son of the home, was having a chat with his father that would decide the fate of one of his siblings.