By Dipo Olowookere
Hundreds of shareholders of Oando Plc, who attended the 40th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the company have expressed confidence in the leadership style the Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr Wale Tinubu, and his team.
In view of this, the shareholders, at the AGM held on Monday, September 11, 2017 at the Ibom Hall in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, voted unanimously to retain Mr Tinubu and the Board of Directors.
Chairman of the board, Oba Michael Gbadebo, noted that the firm was going through a period of restructuring resulting from the prevailing global crisis in the oil and gas sector.
He added that despite the challenges, the company was on course towards becoming Africa’s most respected oil and gas company.
“As we pursue our vision to be the most respected African oil and gas company, we are experiencing a period of restructuring for sustained growth.
“We will continue on our aggressive reduction of debt to create a platform for long term profitability while driving growth via our dollar denominated upstream and downstream trading businesses.
“Cost reduction will remain key to us and we will ensure disciplined execution of our corporate initiatives towards achieving long term profitability and guaranteed returns for all shareholders,” the respected Egba monarch said at the event.
In their comments, the shareholders, who unanimously adopted the company’s 2016 audited report, raised concerns regarding the operations of the firm in the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors of the petroleum industry, as well as its finances and debt profile.
However, Mr Tinubu, while responding to these concerns, thanked the shareholders for their continued support of the company in the challenging times and assured them that the management team will focus on sustaining the company’s profitability and ensuring returns to shareholders.
“As your management team, we assure you that our main focus will continue to be geared towards sustaining your company’s profitability and ensuring adequate return for you our esteemed shareholders.
“Our story has always been one of resilience, innovation and growth, and I assure you that we are fully committed towards positioning your company towards sustained growth moving forward,” Mr Tinubu said, while the excited shareholders chanted “progress, progress.”
On the company’s debt profile, the Oando Group CEO noted that its facilities with banks had been restructured to medium term facilities, with the plan to pay the interest in the first few years and principal in the later years.
“Let me bring to your attention that the $900 million debt position we had in 2014 following the acquisition of ConocoPhilips has been substantially reduced by over $600 million in just under three years. Our current dollar liability stands at around $300 million,” Mr Tinubu said.
Regarding related-party transactions, Mr Tinubu noted that Oando was one of the pioneers of full disclosure on related-party transactions in Nigeria and the company has an extensive policy on it; a policy that has been developed using international global standards as a benchmark.
He said, “If anybody linked with the management of the company is doing any kind of business for or with the company, we are obliged to disclose and we have constantly disclosed.”
“Our related-party policy is on our website. It is detailed and extensive, it is benchmarked against global best practice and it is overseen by the governance committee of the Board, which is an independent committee,” he pointed out.
At the meeting, Oando shareholders voted to re-appoint Ernst & Young as the auditors of the company, while Dr Joseph Asaolu, Mr Olusegun Oguntoye and Mr Edah Erinevere were elected to the audit committee of the company’s board.
Despite speculations of major disruptions at the AGM, nothing of the sort occurred. The AGM went smoothly without disruption, more importantly it was successfully concluded.
There was a 15-minute protest outside the venue however this was carried out by non-shareholders as all shareholders could have entered the venue to raise their legitimate concerns to management and the board.
Speculation is that the protesters were dubious characters who had been asked to disrupt the AGM. The protesting crowd dispersed after key shareholder representatives advised that if they had legitimate concerns that they should officially write to the management of the company expressing their concerns.
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