There are several companies in Nigeria which many people do not even know are listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). The reason for this situation is because some smaller securities are simply overshadowed by the pre-eminence of the bigger ones, especially the NSE 30. Moreover, these smaller securities are seldom in the news, thereby making it almost impossible for people to know what they are about and the investment opportunities available therein. A typical example of such companies is Union Dicon Salt Plc, which is the focus of Nairametrics company profile this week.

Corporate Information about Union Dicon Salt Plc

This Nigerian company’s business model entails the processing, packaging and merchandising of iodised salt. The small-cap company, with its authorised share capital of N300 million, is based in Lagos where it operates at the Kirikiri Lighter Terminal Phase 2.

The company was initially incorporated in 1991 as a limited liability company. Soon afterwards, it was converted into a publicly-traded company and listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1993.

Meanwhile, the actual history of the company prior to 1991 can be traced back to the 1984 joint venture partnership between the Brazilian firm AIMS Limited, and the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON). This partnership resulted in the establishment of Dicon Salt Limited. Note that this joint venture was 60% owned by the Nigerian entity and 40% owned by the Brazilian firm, which also served as the technical partner.

The company engaged in the processing and packaging of bulk, raw salt until 1988 when it was temporarily shut down. By the year 1991, a unanimous decision was reached by the stakeholders to merge with a separate salt processing company known as Union Salt Limited. This is how Union Dicon Salt Plc came to be.

The company’s target market

As one of the leading salt processing companies in Nigeria today, Union Dicon Salt Plc’s main target market is basically comprised of Nigerians who consume salt on a daily basis.

About the company’s ownership structure

The current nature of the company’s ownership structure is such that it is majority-owned by Nigerian entities/Nigerian investors, even though AIMS still has a considerable amount of holdings. As a matter of fact, AIMS Limited single-handedly owns the highest percentage of shares in Union Dicon Salt Plc.

According to information disclosed by the company, substantial shareholders in the company include the following entities:

  1. AIMS Limited holds 64,000,000 units of shares, which amounts to 27.5%. 
  2. The Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria holds a total of 44,000,000 units, which accounts for 18.9%.
  3. General T.Y Danjuma: owns 33,473,291 units which represents about 14.4% of the total shareholding. 
  4. T.Y Holdings holds a total of 18,928,000 units which amounts to 8.1%.
  5. Taraba Fisheries Limited holds some 18,282,386 units, representing 7.9%. 
  6. UDS Plc Staff Trust Fund holds 9,600,370 units of shares, which is 4.1%. 
  7. Danjuma Grace Elizabeth holds 1,870,843. This represents 0.8%. 
  8. Finally, the investing Nigerian public hold a combined total of 42,186,636 which represents 18.2% of total shareholding. 

Some notable members of the company’s board of directors

One of the most prominent members of this company’s board is Retired Lt. General T.Y Danjuma. He serves in the capacity of the Chairman, a position he also currently holds in some other notable companies, including May & Baker Plc, Friesland Food WAMPCO Plc, and South Atlantic Petroleum Limited, to mention just a few.

Mr. Danjuma was a professional soldier who trained in military schools in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. His name has been etched in the history of Nigeria as one of the greatest Generals and businessmen the country has ever produced.

Retired Col. Henry I. Mgbemena serves as the company’s current Managing Director. Much like the Chairman, he too is a retired military personnel, having enlisted into service in 1979. Meanwhile, prior to joining the army, Mr. Mgbemena obtained a degree in Chemistry from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1977. In 2002, he obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Management from the University of Calabar.

Other notable members of the company’s board of directors are:

  1. Engineer Kayode M. Erikitola: Director
  2. Retired Lieutenant Col. Miri Dashe: Director
  3. Major General B.O Ogunkale: Director

Is the company faced with competition?

Most definitely, Union Dicon Salt Plc is not the only company operating in the Nigerian salt market. As a matter of fact, there are other companies struggling for market share. One of these companies is Nascon Allied Industries Plc, the makers of Dangote Salt. Others are Royal Salt Limited, Covenant Salt Company Limited, Bayswater Industries Limited, etc.

A look at the company’s recent financial report

Last month, the Nigerian Stock Exchange suspended the shares of Union Dicon Salt Plc and those of several others, due to their failure to submit their audited financial reports on time. Note that Union Salt has become a perennial offender in this regard, having flouted the NSE post-listing requirement in the past couple of years. This is happening just as the company experiences financial difficulties and dormancy, which could eventually lead to bankruptcy.

Note that the company’s external auditors had, in 2016, raised concerns over the company’s ability to continue operating as a going concern. According to the auditors, BDO Professional Services, the company was suffering financially despite the purported profit of N398.96 million which the company made in 2016. This was because “the subsisting negative shareholders’ funds and working capital raised material uncertainty on the going concern status of the company.”

Following the recent suspension of the company’s shares, the management and board were prompted to release the most recent results which show a loss after tax of N49.4 million during the third quarter period ended September 31st, 2018.

 In conclusion…

Despite the challenges it might be having, one fact remains that Union Dicon Salt Plc is one company with lots of potentials. It is, therefore, important that the board take swift actions towards remedying the challenges facing it before it is too late.

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