Forte Oil Woos Foreign Investors on Proposed N20 Billion Fresh Capital

By Peter OBIORA InvestAdvocate

Lagos (INVESTADVOCATE)-Oil marketing major, Forte Oil Plc on Friday said its wooing foreign investors in its proposed N20 billion fresh capital drive for the expansion of its operations.

Julius Omodayo-Owotuga, group executive director, Finance and Risk Management of the company made this disclosure at a media parley with capital market journalists’ in Lagos.

According to him, there are lots of foreign interest in the shares of Forte Oil Plc which he attributed to the company’s diversification strategy; operating in the downstream, upstream and power sectors of the Nigerian economy.

He disclosed the oil marketing firm has approached the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) to seek approval for the proposed N20 billion fresh fund raising.

“We said to ourselves, because of the margin in downstream business, we cannot continue to use only debt; we have to bring in additional equity and we have started the process, we have approached SEC and the NSE, the GCEO is not here, he is meeting with some investors outside the country in respect to our N20 billion capital raising,” Omodayo-Owotuga said.

In November 2016, Forte Oil announced it successfully raised N9 billion from a bond offering, which will be used to refinance existing short term bank loans and fund retail outlet expansion.

“With the raising of this initial capital which has been fully underwritten shows the confidence the investing public has in Forte Oil Plc as an investment of choice,” Akin Akinfemiwa, group CEO of the company said.

Akinfemiwa said the N9 billion five-year bond is the first tranche of a proposed N50 billion bond issuance programme.

Late February this year, the NSE said it has listed a firmly underwritten N9 billion bond for Forte Oil as part of the planned N50 billion bond issuance programme for the leading energy company.

According to the company, the proceeds of the N9 Billion Series 1, Five Year bond will be deployed to refinance existing short term commercial bank loan obligations and to expand downstream retail outlet footprints amongst others.

Omodayo-Owotuga said that the proceeds from the N20 billion fresh capital will be used to enhance Forte Oil’s working capital, business expansion and downstream businesses.

Forte Oil’s group executive director, Finance and Risk Management disclosed that shareholders of the company had earlier issued a mandate to raise fresh funds of up to N100 billion; out of which N9 billion has only been raised.

Omodayo-Owotuga further disclosed that Forte Oil’s future plans are geared towards five (5) pillars to grow revenue and add value to its shareholders.

He affirmed that the oil marketing firm will deepen its focus on high margin products such as lubricants, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and power to drive revenue generation.

“We grew the lubricants business by 62 percent in 2016, to 21 million litres from 13 million litres recorded in 2015,” he added.

According to him, the second pillar is to strengthen the company’s balance sheet through enhancement of working capital and efficient management of inventory and trade account receivables.

“Another major pillar the company is moving its plans towards is the acquisition of the right upstream assets at the right price to increase market share,” he added.

Omodayo-Owotuga further affirmed that Forte Oil would focus on mergers and acquisitions within the industry to increase its downstream business by looking at refineries.

He said that the company would optimise distribution channels as well as partner with telecommunication firms and financial institutions for effective distribution of its services.

He disclosed in terms of revenue contribution to the operations of the company in 2016, the upstream business has contributed 1.5 percent, power nine percent (9%) and the downstream 89.9 percent.

“In terms of gross profit, power has contributed 20 percent, upstream five percent (5%) and the downstream contributed 75 percent,” he noted.