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Bye bye Shoprite: Shoprite completes sale of Nigerian subsidiary, sets new exit date as protests erupt



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Shoprite Holdings has finalised plans to sell its Nigerian subsidiary, Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited, under which Shoprite Nigeria operates.

The winding up of the company’s operations is happening 15-years after its entry into Nigeria.

The company had announced last year that sales wasn’t good in Nigeria coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic that shut retail market operations down, sales significantly declined.

Sales declined by 6.3 percent during the year, and in its non-South African markets, sales declined by 8.4 percent in rand terms, but contributed to 10.2 percent of Group sales. The declining sales had compelled Shoprite to make a divestment from Nigeria.

The retailer planned ending of 2020 to quit the Nigerian market, but Shoprite has changed its exit date to the fourth quarter of 2021.

This was revealed in its six months ended December 2020 report.

Last year, Shoprite stated, “Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited may be classified as a discontinued operation when Shoprite reports its results for the year. Any further updates will be provided to the market at the appropriate time.”

However, new development from the company state, “We hereby confirm that the terms of sale have been concluded and that the transaction has been lodged with the Nigerian Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) for approval.

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“Management expects the transaction to be approved by the end of the 2021 financial year.” Shoprite said in its financial statements for six months ended December 2020.

In its 26 weeks to December 27, 2020 report, while addressing its market outside South Africa, the retailer said it is managing cost in Nigeria and it is “at the approval stage in terms of the sale of our Nigeria supermarket operation.

“From here, our capital allocated to the region remains at a minimum and we continue to manage costs as best as we can.” Shoprite disclosed.

The company has about 25 stores which will be handled by a new owner at the end of this year. Although, the Nigerian subsidiary is struggling to keep business in order as protests continue to prevent operations from running as usual.

The Ibadan store were closed last week, while some weeks ago, the Lagos branch also recorded its own protest which is over gratuity promised to the Nigerian workforce by shoprite, current owner of Nigerian subsidiary.

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Cost of preparing jollof rice in Nigeria rises by 7.8% in Q1 2021 – SBM




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The average cost of making a pot of jollof rice in Nigeria rose by 7.8% between March 2020 and March 2021.

This is contained in the SBM Jollof index report for Q1 2021, published by SB Morgen.

According to the report, the increase was caused by the prolonged border closure, increased energy tariffs, exchange rate volatility, coronavirus pandemic, and the restrictions of forex for the importation of items, largely due to falling oil prices.

It also identified the effect of the #EndSARS protest against brutality and the response of the government, which brought the main economic states in Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) to a standstill for major parts of the month of October 2020.

  • Specifically, the average cost of making a pot of jollof rice in Nigeria increased from N7,167 recorded in Q4 2020 to N7400 in the first quarter of 2021.
    representing a 3.24% quarter-on-quarter increase.
  • The cost of making a pot of rice is most costly in Wuse and least costly at Awka. The report, however, suggests that the disparity could be a result of operational costs rather than the actual cost of commodities.
  • While it is possible for people in Awka to substitute buying some of the commodities with products from their subsistence agriculture, the same is not possible in Wuse, largely because of its very urban nature.
  • The high exchange rate of N410/$1 to N475/$1 in the parallel market also adversely affected the price of jollof rice in the country as tomato puree, rice, turkey, and seasoning are affected by the exchange rates.
  • Also, flooding destroyed several hectares of rice farms across the country. The report stated that up to 500,000 hectares of rice farms were destroyed in Kebbi State alone.
  • The price of turkey has increased as a result of increased electricity tariffs which has forced increases in cold room costs.
Also Read:  Dangote: Cement price from Factories is between N2,450 and N2,510 per Bag, VAT inclusive

According to the SBM Jollof report, “Our interviews with traders shows that transportation costs have not reduced since they were increased during the introduction of the COVID-19 protocols. One of the traders stated that she pays almost twice her former transportation cost prior to COVID-19, and the prices have not gone down even after drivers began to carry more passengers than permitted by the social distancing protocol.”

Jollof costliest to cook in Wuse, Abuja

In Abuja, food production is mainly undertaken by its neighbouring states Benue, Kaduna, Kogi and Niger, all of which have seen several attacks in the past few years, showing a decline in that dimension.

  • The report revealed that the cost of making a pot of jollof rice is highest in Wuse, Abuja.
  • Although food distribution has not been affected and unemployment rates are over 40%, but being the administrative headquarters of the government and most international NGOs, outreaches and food distribution are common.

“In all the states surveyed, out of a score of 50, the combined score ranged from 18-27 which shows a general decline in entitlements across the states and similar levels of severity. While Bauchi has a higher chance at getting food insecure, the other states are slightly above the borderline, showing medium decline in their entitlement (ability to get food).”

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Business war: Kano elders reconcile Dangote and Rabiu of BUA cement (photos)




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Northern elders in Kano state have reconciled ALHAJI ALIKO DANGOTE and ALHAJI ABDUL-SAMAD RABIU of BUA cement.

The Fight: On 1 September, Abdulsamad Rabiu, chairman of one of Nigeria’s (and Africa’s) biggest conglomerates, BUA was all smiles in Paris as he signed a technology licensing deal with Jean Sentenac, CEO of Axens, France’s largest hydrocarbons group.

The agreement is that Axens will supply process technologies for BUA’s upcoming integrated refinery and petrochemical facility in Akwa Ibom. The greenfield project, which is expected to be operational by 2024, is the latest in the Nigerian billionaire’s audacious moves to stamp the BUA brand as an exceptional regional force.

When completed, the facility will refine 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) of hydrocarbons – a ninth of Nigeria’s 1.

8m bpd oil production– and help reduce the country’s unacceptable dependence on imported fuels. It will also export high-quality gasoline, diesel, kerosene, jet fuel and propylene to neighbouring markets.

To succeed, Rabiu will have to source and develop technical expertise, build at least a 100MW generating plant to power the facility, and construct roads wide and strong enough to carry imported refinery structures and parts.

BUA secured a large and strategic port on the Atlantic Ocean coast from the Akwa Ibom government, thereby easing its logistics. The epoch-making project will swallow billions of dollars and a number of development and commercial banks have stood in line offering to finance the operation via debt and equity.

If this sounds like deja vu, it is because this bold move mirrors a move by another Nigerian tycoon, Aliko Dangote, who himself decided to diversify into petrochemicals.

Rabiu’s bold entry into the refinery business expands the decades-long competition for market dominance between his conglomerate and the Dangote Group, into new territory.

His predecessor in the venture, Aliko Dangote’s highly anticipated $12bn refinery, will produce 650,000 bpd and is expected to begin operations in 2021. Business pundits have long pontificated that there seems to be bad blood between the two men.

If anything, this battle or clash of the titans can only be a good thing for the country, and indeed the continent. America was built by bold industrialists, each vying for dominance. The Korean chaebols (large, conglomerate family-controlled firms) which are now global giants, grew huge thanks to fierce competition amongst themselves that pushed them to innovate, be lean and become globally competitive.

The cynics might ask, why is Rabiu trying to get a finger into yet another Dangote pie? Rabiu explains that the move represents diversification, especially given the pressure on commodities related to FX and the dollar crunch. But it’s fascinating to understand the two men and their businesses.

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In the beginning, The clash in business interests between Dangote and Rabiu has its roots in traditions pre-dating both men’s business careers. Alhaji Aliko Dangote comes from a celebrated lineage of wealthy merchants from the northern commercial capital of Kano.

His famed maternal great and grand relatives made fortunes importing and exporting edible commodities. Upon completing his studies at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, the young Dangote in 1977 naturally picked up trading commodities in which he had amassed generational knowledge and a network by proxy.

Abdulsamad Rabiu also has a heritage in commodities trading. His late father, Isyaku Rabiu, was a renowned merchant and industrialist in Kano State in the 1970s and 80s.

But a 1983 military coup under Major-General Muhammadu Buhari overturned the fortunes of the senior Rabiu for his failure to pay for rice imports. In 1988, eleven years after Dangote struck out in business, the young Rabiu made up his mind to change his family fortunes and founded BUA International.

Over 30 years later, the Dangote Group stands out as a leading pan-African brand with interests in commodities, energy and logistics. Its companies have over 30,000 employees and his group represents nearly a quarter of the Nigerian Stock Exchange’s N28 trillion ($75bn) value. Its crown jewel, Dangote Cement, single-handedly boasts a market cap of $14bn and controls 60% of the market.

The ‘challenger’, BUA Group, has interests in cement production, sugar refining, real estate, logistics and port operation. Its largest operation and only publicly listed company, BUA Cement, which came to market earlier this year, has a $3bn market capitalisation and 17.6% market share.

Though BUA subsidiaries have often trailed Dangote’s, the Rabiu-led group’s market recognition has come by deploying strategy and doggedness to break through tough market entry barriers and assume leadership positions.

Price wars, legal battles and criticisms
Leveraging its dominance in the market, the Dangote Group has always responded by weaponising pricing to put its competitors out of business.

For example, when BUA Cement started production and reduced prices by about $20/tonne to attract customers, one of the Dangote strategies was to temporarily beat down their prices. Rabiu was unperturbed and instead, focused on meeting the demands of underserved markets in the Northern region, which eventually earned BUA the title ‘King of the North’.

Also Read:  Dangote: Cement price from Factories is between N2,450 and N2,510 per Bag, VAT inclusive

Their rivalry really intensified under the administration of ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo. Many (falsely) attribute Dangote’s success to favouritism by Obasanjo. It’s true that Dangote benefited from favourable government policy towards certain goods to encourage import substitution, but he was already powerful and his success can be attributed to excellent execution.

Still, accusations are directed towards what is claimed as favouritism towards him – to the detriment of his major rivals – regarding preferential access to foreign exchange and preferential tax arrangements. Between 2010 and 2015, Dangote Cement paid N12bn in taxes, an effective tax rate of just 1%, it is alleged by some.

The BUA chief allegedly wrote a petition to the current President Muhammadu Buhari, detailing how policies of successive governments over the last two decades have “unduly” favoured his kinsman.

But it now seems the gloves are off as the rivalry heats up and the battle for cement supremacy intensifies.

Both companies are currently locked in a bitter dispute over mining rights in Obu-Okpella in Edo State. BUA has its highest-producing cement plant in the area and has accused Dangote of blocking access to the mines – which are a rich source of essential material in the manufacture of cement.

Dangote, on the other hand, claims ownership of the mines. The complicated case was still before the courts at the time of going to press.

Good vibes despite rivalry
Apart from the generational business interests of both men, favourable government policies have often determined the direction and expansion of their businesses. A backward integration policy introduced under the Obasanjo Administration to reduce over dependence on imports created opportunities for each of them to establish operations in key industries – cement, sugar and flour.

Dangote Sugar has a 70% market share. The subsidiary possesses an 800,000 tonnes annual production capacity plant which is the largest sugar refinery in Africa and the third-largest in the world. It is the main supplier to the country’s soft drinks companies, breweries, and confectioners.

But BUA puts up an impressive fight. It broke Dangote’s total grip on the market in 2008 by establishing a plant with an annual capacity of 720,000 tonnes. The facility remains the second-largest in West Africa after the Dangote Sugar Refinery.

Cement has helped place the two northern business moguls among Africa’s wealthiest. Forbes estimates the net worth of Rabiu and Dangote at $3.2bn and $8.3bn respectively as of July 2020. Despite Nigeria being the continent’s largest cement exporter, Rabiu says output is still not enough to satisfy local demand given its huge population.

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As at 2018, the country had an annual production of 35m MT but needs to produce up to 50m MT of cement for its 200m population.

Both BUA and Dangote have exited the flour market, where Flour Mills of Nigeria wields a 55% market share, to concentrate on cement, which delivers higher returns.

In 2016, BUA Flour was bought by Olam for $275m. Three years later, Dangote sold its loss-making mill to Olam for $361m. Now they have their eyes on much higher returns in the costly game of petroleum refining.

Interestingly, outside of business, the two men appear to be friends. Rabiu was invited to Dangote’s daughter’s wedding in 2018. “I don’t think there’s any animosity between the two industrialists though,” says Feyi Fawehinmi, a UK-based economic commentator.

Both men are in their sixties and have hinted that their supposed rivalry is nothing personal. Earlier in the year, Aliko Dangote visited Abdulsamad Rabiu at his BUA headquarters, on Victoria Island, Lagos.

Wearing a light grey indigenous babariga outfit, instead of his signature two-piece suit, he looked in the mood for casual chat. Both men laughed and smiled for the camera in what was their longest public appearance since Dangote’s birthday, three years earlier.

“It was an honour for me to receive my friend and brother, Alhaji, in my office today. I share his vision and aspirations in transforming and industrialisng our beloved country, Nigeria,” Rabiu shared on social media.

For any outsider, greater competition can only be beneficial. Dangote and Rabiu’s combined 850,000 bpd oil refinery ambitions offer Nigeria’s economy much to hope for. The Department of Petroleum Resources has said that the country expects to become a net exporter of fuel and other petroleum products within the next two years. Consequently, this would increase foreign reserves and help strengthen the frequently weakened naira.

As Nigeria marks its 60th independence and its 20m citizens reflect on the gains of democracy, Aliko Dangote and Abdulsamad Rabiu’s rise is evidence that national champions are critical to truly transforming economies…even if that means creating an enabling environment for such groups to grow properly.

African Magazine).


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BUA Group, French company announce progress in 200,000 bpd refinery project




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The BUA Group and Axens, a French-based petroleum technology company, have both signed a progress acknowledgement statement for the proposed BUA multi-billion-dollar integrated 200,000 barrels per day refinery in Akwa Ibom State.

This is coming about 6 months after both firms signed an agreement for the supply of process technologies and the design of the facility.

BUA, while making the disclosure in a statement on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, said that the French President, Emmanuel Macron, commended its Chairman, Abdul Samad Rabiu, for his commitment to developing lasting relationships between French and Nigerian businesses.

The statement said that this came as the French Minister for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, Franck Riester, paid a visit to the BUA Group Headquarters in Lagos where he handed over a personal invitation from Macron to Rabiu to attend the Choose France Summit in June in Paris representing business leaders from Nigeria and Africa.

The French minister also witnessed the signing of a progress acknowledgement statement between BUA Group and Axens of France for the proposed refinery project, according to the statement.

The statement also said that during the visit, it was announced that the BUA chairman had been appointed Chairman of the France Nigeria Investment Club.

While thanking the minister and Macron for their unwavering support in bringing BUA and French businesses together, Rabiu said BUA had so far initiated partnerships and had developed personal relationships with a few French businesses, including Axens.

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He expressed confidence in the quality of expertise and technical know-how of the French companies BUA had partnered with.

Rabiu pointed out that the BUA refinery would reduce the huge cost of transporting Nigerian crude offshore, refining it and bringing it back into the country when fully operational.

He said that the choice of Akwa Ibom for the refinery was due to the huge availability of raw materials and its proximity to export petroleum products to regional countries.

The President of Axens, Jean Sentenac, in his statement, said he was pleased that the project was advancing on schedule and expressed delight for the very good cooperation between all the involved parties, reiterating the commitment of Axens in delivering the BUA Refinery Project on time and with the highest standards.


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