Arik Air shareholders have disputed AMCON’s claim of high debt exposure, stating it was less than 5% of the airline’s value before the takeover.
The shareholders asserted that Arik Air was valued at $3.7 billion by Deloitte UK in 2014 after an extensive forensic review of assets and global stations.
In the meantime, AMCON’s activities in the airline are under investigation by the EFCC, and the shareholders call for respect and non-interference in the ongoing probe.
The shareholders of Arik Air have hit back at the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), saying that its total debt exposure before the takeover was less than 5 per cent of its value.
The shareholders, led by the founder of Arik Air, Sir. Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide explained in a statement that before the receivership by AMCON, Arik Air was valued at the sum of $3.7 billion by Deloitte UK.
Ongoing Investigation and Respect for Due Process
The shareholders further explained that this valuation was a product of months of forensic review of all assets and visits to all worldwide stations, including the Nigerian base by the valuers in 2014.
According to the shareholders, before the takeover by AMCON on February 9, 2017, the total assets of the airline were over N141 billion.
The shareholders said that the ongoing investigations of AMCON activities in the airline by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the last six years should be respected by all parties and allow it to run its course without interference.
The statement hinted that it was public knowledge that Arumemi Ikhide at the instance of AMCON was investigated by the EFCC on February 8, 2017, a day before AMCON took over the running of the airline and complained of being bullied by AMCON and resorted to name calling.
It added that as part of Arik Air’s continuous engagement with AMCON over the years, the management of the airline led the team of Deloitte valuers to present its report of the airline to the Minister of Finance, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the management of AMCON in 2014. The statement added:
“It should be noted that in 2021, Arik Air shareholders through the airline’s Vice Chairman, Sen. Aniete Okon made a public demand for AMCON to file the statement of affairs of the company in order for the shareholders to ascertain the state of the alleged indebtedness, but AMCON bluntly refused and resorted to name calling.
“Now, it is interesting that after over 80 days that the Federal High Court Lagos in suit no FHC/L/CS/1175/2021 ruled on March 31st, 2023, that the Receiver Manager and AMCON should within 14 days of the judgement file the audited accounts of Arik Air since receivership with the Corporate Affairs Commission, the receiver manager and AMCON are yet to obey the court order to file that account.
“In addition, the receiver manager disobeyed the order of the court for unfettered access for the shareholders/directors into the Arik Air offices at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos.”
The shareholders emphasised that its lawyers carried out an investigation, which confirmed that its assets were being stripped and resorted to petitioning the who in turn visited the airline’s headquarters in Lagos for its own independent investigation.
AMCON’s Defense and Explanation
AMCON had over the weekend in a statement said that the airline was technically insolvent and being kept alive only by its magnanimity and that of the federal aviation agencies.
AMCON also denied a petition filed on behalf of Arumemi-Ikhide by Femi Falana Chambers, which claimed a criminal intent in respect of the JV financing of certain wet-lease aircraft for the airline.
AMCON also clarified the concerns raised about the teardown of a Boeing 737-700 aircraft registered as 5N-MJI, which had been abandoned and cannibalised in Malta since 2013 by Arik under the then leadership of its former owners.
AMCON insisted the JV financing options were innovative ways of raising capital for the airline due to restrictions on Arik borrowing powers.
The corporation insisted that the decision it took was a professional one that was Beyond Economic Repairs (BER) and stood the chance of being sent to the graveyard by authorities of the relevant airport in Malta.
According to AMCON, the pre-teardown valuation of the aircraft by McLarens, an aircraft valuation company, valued the aeroplane at $1.5 million.
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