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Guinness Nigeria’s parent company acquires Hollywood actor, Ryan Reynolds’ Gin brand

Guinness Nigeria’s parent company has acquired a gin brand co-owned by actor, Ryan Reynolds.

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Guinness Nigeria’s parent company acquires Hollywood actor, Ryan Reynolds’ Gin brand

Diageo Holdings Plc, the world’s largest spirits maker has completed the acquisition of Aviation American Gin and its parent company Davos brands, co-owned by Hollywood star actor Ryan Reynolds.

This disclosure is contained in a press release by the company, which was seen by Nairametrics.

The acquisition of Aviation Gin LLC and its parent company, Davos Brands LLC, cements Diageo as the world’s largest gin brand in the world.

READ: Guinness’ parent company expects alcohol sales to improve as restaurants and bars gradually reopen

The total consideration of the acquisition is put at $610 million, which includes an initial payment of $335 million and a further potential consideration of up to $275 million, based on the performance of Aviation American Gin over a ten-year period. This, however, reflects the brand’s current growth trajectory and expected upside potential.

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The Management of Diageo Holdings Plc, said that the acquisition supports the company’s participation in the super-premium gin segment in the US, and is in line with the company’s strategy to acquire “high growth brands with attractive margins,” which supports its premiumization ambitions.

 (READ MORE: Oracle wins bid to acquire TikTok’s US operations after Microsoft offer was rejected)

Ivan Menezes, Chief Executive officer of Diageo said; “We are confident that Aviation American Gin will continue to shape and drive the growth of super-premium gin in North America, and we are looking forward to working with Ryan Reynolds and the Davos Brands team to accelerate future growth.”

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READ: Analysis: Nigerian Breweries, the glory days are gone

Aviation American Gin is an American style gin crafted with a blend of botanicals, with subtle juniper notes, delivering a smooth balanced flavor profile. The brand has thrived under the leadership of its majority owner, Davos Brands, and the creative direction of co-owner Ryan Reynolds, who will retain an ongoing ownership interest in Aviation American Gin.

Through this acquisition, Diageo is also acquiring the other brands in the Davos Brands’ portfolio, consisting of Astral Tequila, Sombra Mezcal, and TYKU Sake.

READ: How Nike rejection birthed sportswear industry in Nigeria

Fact: Diageo Overseas Holdings Limited, is the parent organization of Guinness Overseas Limited. Guinness Overseas Limited, as of 30 June 2020, owned 50.18% of the issued share capital of Guinness Nigeria Plc.

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Corporate deals

Paystack acquired by Stripe for a reported $200 million in the biggest fintech acquisition in Nigeria’s history

Nigerian fintech startup, Paystack has been acquired by global fintech giant, Stripe.

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Paystack acquired by Stripe for a reported $200 million in the biggest fintech acquisition in Nigeria's history

PayStack, a Nigerian fintech startup, has been acquired by global fintech giant Stripe, in the biggest M&A deal in Nigerian tech and one of the biggest in Nigerian corporate history. Paystack was founded in 2016 by Ezra Olubi and Shola Akinlade.

This was disclosed in a press release seen by Nairametrics. The statement read in part:

“In order to help grow Africa’s online GDP, Stripe has entered into an agreement to acquire Paystack, a technology company based in Lagos that makes it easy for organizations of all sizes to collect payments from around the world.

READ: Nigerian Fintech Startup, Piggybank.ng, secures $1.1M Seed Funding

READ: How these healthcare startups are changing the narratives in the ecosystem

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“Today, more than 60,000 businesses in Nigeria and Ghana use Paystack to securely collect online and offline payments, launch new business models, and deepen customer relationships.

“Incredibly, Paystack already processes more than half of all online transactions in Nigeria.
Paystack has ambitious plans to expand across the continent and recently started a pilot with businesses in South Africa.

“Stripe and Paystack have been working closely together for some time. In 2018, Stripe led Paystack’s Series. A financing round and has provided ongoing guidance as the company rapidly scaled.”

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READ: FairMoney secures EUR 10 million seed funding, to widen mobile banking services in Nigeria 

Following the announcement, TechCrunch on Thursday afternoon reported that Stripe had raised $600 million to invest and acquire payments companies in developing nations. It disclosed that the Nigerian startup had been on Stripe’s bucket list for a while since 2018 when Stripe led an $8 million funding round for PayStack.

Paystack Co-founder Sola Akinlade told TechCrunch that the company was not up for sale when Stripe initially approached for the acquisition; however, the founders are mission-driven and believed Stripe could accelerate it. Akinlade also disclosed PayStack investors, VISA and Tencent also approached to acquire the company.

READ: 3 startup lessons from Kobo360’s $30 million fund raise

“Paystack was not for sale when Stripe approached us.

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“For us, it’s about the mission. I’m driven by the mission to accelerate payments on the continent, and I am convinced that Stripe will help us get there faster. It is a very natural move,” Akinlade said.

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READ: The “EndSARS” protests and the problem of police reform in Nigeria

Backstory

Nairametrics reported in 2016 when Paystack raised its initial $1.3 Million Seed Funding from both international and homegrown investors.

Founders Ezra Olubi and Shola Akinlade were the toast of the tech space when their company became the first Nigerian tech startup to be accepted into the world-famous Y Combinator program, based in Silicon Valley. They obtained an initial $120,000 seed funding and further technical advice at the program.

READ: #EndSARS: Nigerian firms, Start-ups donate millions in support of protests

READ: E-Settlement Partners Seriate for acquisition and deployment of 20,000 mPOS

What they are saying

Patrick Collison, CEO of Stripe, told TC that the deal with PayStack is an enormous opportunity, as African e-commerce grows by 30% every year, which would give Stripe an early footing in the region.

“This is an enormous opportunity,” he said.

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“In absolute numbers, Africa may be smaller right now than other regions, but online commerce will grow about 30% every year. And even with wider global declines, online shoppers are growing twice as fast.

READ: New report details how Nigerian fintech companies are expanding their business scopes

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“Stripe thinks on a longer time horizon than others, because we are an infrastructure company. We are thinking of what the world will look like in 2040-2050.”

He added that Stripe is also planning  on understanding the ecosystem and keep its eyes  open so it can see where help is needed, as the company does not tie up its investments into “complicated strategic investments.”

Collison said that many companies depend on Stripe’s infrastructure, but with PayStack, the founders have organic input in running their operations.

READ: Meet Sola Akinlade, co-founder of Nigeria’s foremost payment platform Paystack

READ: Paystack explains how it will use Truecaller to verify merchants

Stripe said the announcement of the acquisition was delayed due to the #EndSARS protests across the country.

“A lot of companies have been, let’s say, heavily influenced by Stripe.

“But with Paystack, clearly they’ve put a lot of original thinking into how to do things better. There are some details of Stripe that we consider mistakes, but we can see that Paystack ‘gets it’. It’s clear from the site and from the product sensibilities, and that has nothing to do with them being in Africa or African.”

READ: Nigerian fintech companies raised $600 million in five years – McKinsey Report 

Shola Akinlade said the payments ecosystem is still broken and PayStack is still in its early days. PayStack provides payments API for companies and takes a cut from every transaction. The company has 60,000 customers so far, from SMEs to large cooperation,s and would continue to run independently.

Techcrunch said the full terms of the deal were not disclosed. However, TC confirmed that it is worth over $200 million, making it the largest tech acquisition in Nigerian corporate history.

READ: CBN to sanction exporters who default on export proceed number

What you should know

According to Crunchbase, PayStack has raised $11.7 million so far.

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Corporate deals

London Stock Exchange seals $5billion Borsa Italiana sale

The sale is aimed at dousing tensions amidst growing concerns over LSE control of the European Bond market.

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London Stock Exchange seals $5billion Borsa Italia sale

In what appears to be a landmark trade deal, the London Stock Exchange (LSE) has agreed to a €4.3 billion ($5.1 billion) with Euronext to sell Borsa Italiana. This is according to insider sources from both firms.

If successful, the deal would bring LSE a step closer to clinching approval for its $27 billion purchase of Refinitiv, which is 45% owned by Thomas Reuters. The sale is aimed at dousing tensions amidst growing concerns over LSE control of the European Bond market.

READ: DEAL: Custodian Investment agrees to buy majority stake in UPDC

This is corroborated in a statement by London Stock Exchange Chief Executive, David Schwimmer, “We believe the sale of the Borsa Italiana group will contribute significantly to addressing the EU’s competition concerns,”

Recall earlier that LSE had entered exclusive talks with Euronext last month after the Paris bourse owner saw off competition from Deutsche Boerse DB1Gn.DE and Swiss rival SIX. The deal presents an opportunity for Euronext to expand its equity operations, while it presents an opportunity for LSE to recoup the €1.6.

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The deal will afford Euronext the opportunity to commence its first fixed income training via Borsa’s bond trading platform MTS.

(READ MORE: Global stocks close mixed on growing geopolitical concerns)

Commenting on the deal, the CEO of Euronext, Stephane Boujnah said “Euronext will significantly diversify its revenue mix and its geographical footprint by welcoming the market infrastructure of Italy, a G7 country and the third-largest economy in Europe.”

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How will the deal be funded?

Euronext with a market value of around 7 billion euros, might not be able to pull an outright cash deal without a sizeable amount of debt instruments. Hence, the firm plans to issue 1.8 billion euros in debt and raise 2.4 billion euros in new equity to fund it.

READ: MTN seeking to sell stake in Jumia Technologies AG

To raise funds and specifically secure the Italian government’s support, Euronext collaborated with state agency Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) and Italy’s biggest bank Intesa SanPaolo, who will subscribe to 700 million euros of Euronext’s equity issue.

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Corporate deals

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.

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Board room squabble tears HealthPlus apart

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.”

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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.

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  • 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.

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