Home » Nigerian energy magnate Ambrosie Bryant Orjiako steps down as chairman of Seplat Energy

Nigerian energy magnate Ambrosie Bryant Orjiako steps down as chairman of Seplat Energy

by Mfonobong Nsehe

Nigerian energy magnate and Seplat Energy Co-Founder Ambrosie Bryant Orjiako, has decided to step down as chairman and board director of Seplat Energy Plc, Nigeria’s largest energy group.

A board announcement issued by the energy group from its offices in Lagos, Nigeria, confirmed the transition.

The group noted that Orjiako will remain chairman until the next annual general shareholders meeting in May 2022, when he will be succeeded by an independent chairperson in line with Seplat Energy’s succession plan.

Orjiako, who co-founded the energy group in 2009 with Austin Avuru through the partnership of Shebah Petroleum Development Company and Platform Petroleum Joint Ventures, is credited for building Seplat into one of Nigeria’s most successful indigenous oil and gas companies.

Since Seplat was founded more than a decade ago, it has grown into the largest listed energy group on the Nigerian Exchange, with a N424.39-billion ($1.033 billion) market capitalization.

In a statement, Orjiako said: “The past 12 years of Seplat Energy’s existence have been phenomenal for me. As chairman, I am proud that the board, management, and entire staff of Seplat Energy were able to achieve several enviable milestones and exceptional successes, notably the acquisition of eight oil and gas assets, expansion of the Oben and development of the ANOH gas plants and the dual listing on both the Nigerian and London stock exchanges, a first by a Nigerian company.”

“I will continue to give my utmost energy and commitment to the company until I step down from the board at the next annual general shareholders meeting,” he said.

Capital market observers and experts close to the energy group believe that Orjiako’s decision to step down was spurred by court actions over a $150-million loan facility taken by Shebah E&P Limited to carry out a drilling campaign in OML 108 in 2012.

The court actions instituted by Zenith Bank Plc, a leading Nigerian bank, against Shebah E&P and eight others, followed numerous court orders issued both in London and in Nigeria since 2014.

According to reports, Orjiako paid the lenders $89.3 million of the total $150-million principal, including $20 million paid this year to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, African Export-Import Bank and Access Bank toward the repayment efforts. 

In line with the order of the court, Neimeth Pharmaceuticals Plc, a key player in Nigeria’s health sector, has suspended all transactions with Orjiako, who is firstly a trained medical doctor, before he began to actively take part in the Nigerian oil industry.

As of the time of the drafting of this report, Seplat shares on the Nigerian Exchange closed at N721.1 per share, unchanged from their opening price this morning, Nov. 17.

As of Oct. 29, Orjiako had a 6.43-percent stake in Seplat. At the current price, his stake is valued at N27.27 billion ($66.37 million).

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