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Nigerian media mogul Nduka Obaigbena fights ban on running company in UK

A London judge has granted him permission to appeal the decision banning him from trading in the UK.

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Nigerian media mogul Nduka Obaigbena. ©Billionaires.Africa

A London judge has ruled that Nigerian media mogul Nduka Obaigbena can appeal the ban on his running a company in the uk. He said there is an argument that the penalty would be too severe.

According to Law360.com, High Court Judge Timothy Fancourt granted Obaigbena permission to appeal the decision prohibiting him from operating a company in the United Kingdom for seven years due to unpayable debts.

Hugh Sims, QC, the counsel for the businessman, argued that High Court Judge Raquel Agnello had misunderstood the law. Obaigbena’s business, Arise Networks Limited, an African TV network based in London, had no realistic prospect of paying its debts and avoiding insolvent liquidation.

Judge Fancourt stated that he was not convinced that the judge misunderstood Obaigbena’s evidence or unfairly criticized his credibility. He further stated that there is still a possibility that the imposed sanctions were too harsh.

Sims argued that Judge Agnello used the wrong legal test to sanction Obaigbena at a hearing asking for permission to appeal. Sims argued that his client believed his company was capable of paying off its enormous debts.

Judge Agnello should not have simply looked at Obaigbena’s inability to pay off his debts. He should also have asked on if the businessman knew there was no way for the company to turn around its fortunes.

According to Sims, Obaigbena believed the company could trade based on April’s findings. The court shouldn’t have banned its activity because of this subjective belief. Sims said Judge Agnello appeared skeptical about Obaigbena’s evidence due to his style of delivery.

Sims said that “it does seem to have been a contributing factor.”

The hearing comes after it was revealed that Arise continued trading despite its losses increasing from PS3.8 million ($5.1 million) in 2013 to PS25.7 million in April 2016 when it was wound down.

Obaigbena launched Arise in 2014. He is also the founder of Nigeria’s largest newspaper, This Day.

From late 2014, the company was under increasing pressure due to its growing arrears to creditors and inability to repay its debts. Arise’s debts grew steadily despite the sums it received at the time.

Although it was expected that the company would lose its profit over the next five years, it did not generate any sales revenue during its trading activity. It was entirely dependent on loans from Nigerian businesses, according to the judge.

Due to the collapse in oil prices, the Nigerian government instituted strict exchange controls in September 2014. This prevented the free flow of currency from Nigeria, which severely limited Obaigbena’s ability to transfer funds to Arise and any other associated companies in the UK.

Obaigbena said he believed that sufficient funds would be available once the restrictions were lifted, which could then be used to pay creditors. Judge Agnello ruled that there was no evidence to support Obaigbena’s belief that the creditors would be paid.

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Nigerian gaming tycoon Kunle Soname ventures into aviation

Soname is a Nigerian gaming tycoon and chairman of Bet9ja.

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Nigerian gaming tycoon Kunle Soname

Kunle Soname, a Nigerian gaming tycoon and chairman of Bet9ja, a Lagos-based betting platform, has taken delivery of the first two aircraft purchased under his recently launched airline company, ValueJet, as part of a move to begin regional flights after all necessary processes are completed.

On May 20, the airline’s fleet, which includes recently purchased aircraft (CRJ-900s with the registration, 5N-BXS and 5N-BXT), arrived at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

ValueJet is preparing the fleet for demo flights as part of the regulatory requirements set by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which is a mandatory regulatory exercise toward receiving an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) from the NCAA.

The decision by Soname to enter the aviation industry is consistent with concerted efforts to make flight tickets more affordable for Nigerians and to create value for investors in an industry plagued by operational difficulties and a persistent rise in operating expenses.

According to available statistics, only about five percent of Nigeria’s population can presently afford a flight ticket, which ValueJet hopes to significantly increase through innovative fare pricing.

Soname emphasized Nigeria’s role as an African country in driving global trade. “Despite all of the industry’s current challenges,” he said, “Nigeria and Africa are well poised to drive economic growth with an effective aviation sector.”

“ValueJet is a visionary airline that is gradually positioning itself to efficiently facilitate growth opportunities across geographies,” he added.

According to ValueJet Managing Director Omololu Majekodunmi, the company’s recent move is the first of many in the industry. He went on to say that the firm’s recently purchased aircraft were chosen based on performance, safety, and comfort.

“ValueJet will deploy these aircraft for regional flight services once we have completed all mandatory processes and secured AOC approvals,” he said.

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Led by Egypt’s richest family, Orascom Construction sees profit drop 43.1 percent in Q1 2022

Nassef Sawiris owns 28.97 percent of the multinational construction group, or 33,825,323 shares.

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Nassef Sawiris.

Despite reporting a double-digit percent increase in profit in 2021 due to improved collections and liquidity management, Orascom Construction reported a profit of $15.3 million at the end of the first six months of 2021.

Orascom Construction is Egypt’s richest family-founded multinational engineering and construction corporation.

The leading engineering and construction behemoth reported a profit of $15.3 million in the first quarter of 2022, down more than 43.1 percent from the $26.9 million in profit reported in the first quarter of 2021, according to recently published financial results.

Despite a 20-percent increase in revenue from $816.6 million to $979.9 million, the group’s earnings power was hampered by a surge in direct costs above $880 million, combined with an increase in operating expenses during the period under review.

Osama Bishai, CEO of Orascom Construction, commented on the financial performance, saying: “We indicated in the previous quarter that we expected to experience challenges associated with the changing global economic environment.”

“As always, we continue to prioritize project controls, cost optimization, supply chain, and collections. Our new awards strategy is also unchanged as we continue to focus on high-quality projects across our geographies in sectors in which we are competitive,” he said.

The group was able to keep its project backlog at $5.5 billion by awarding $617.5 million in new contracts during the first quarter of 2022.

Despite the depreciation of the Egyptian pound, the backlog is consistent with the level achieved a year ago, as it was supported by high-profile infrastructure projects in Egypt denominated in foreign currency, as well as projects in other markets in the Middle East, Africa and the United States.

As part of its commitment to shareholders, the board proposed a $27-million dividend distribution to be paid in the third quarter of 2022. This is the group’s fifth consecutive year of dividend payments.

Orascom Construction is a leading global engineering and construction contractor, with active operations and investments in the Middle East, Africa, and the United States.

Egypt’s richest man Nassef Sawiris owns 28.97 percent of the group, or 33,825,323 ordinary shares, while OS Private Trust Company owns 51.8 percent of the Egypt-based contractor for the benefit of the Sawiris family.

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South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe, wife join world leaders at 2022 WEF Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland

Motsepe is a member of the WEF Board of Trustees.

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South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe. ©Billionaires.Africa

South African billionaire mining mogul Patrice Motsepe and his wife Precious Moloi-Motsepe have been confirmed as two of the 35 South African business representatives who will attend an event at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, tomorrow, which is partially dedicated to promoting South Africa as an attractive investment destination.

The event, “Preparing for Africa’s Growing Global Role,” was developed in partnership with the South African Broadcasting Corp.

The 2022 WEF Annual Meeting, which runs from May 22 to 26, is convening at the most consequential geopolitical and geo-economic moment in the past three decades against the backdrop of a once-in-a-century pandemic, COVID-19, and the continuing Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Motsepe and his wife, a renowned medical practitioner, join South African Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana and International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor as top representatives who will offer ideas about how to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in Africa.

Other South African business leaders who will attend the WEF Annual Meeting this week include: Leila Fourie, group CEO of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange; Rene Parker, CEO of RLabs; Nicola Galombik, executive director of Yellowwood; and, Bronwyn Nielsen, founder and CEO of Nielsen Media and Associates.

According to a statement issued by the South African government, the event will also provide an opportunity for the government to share an update on South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan, promote the country’s economic reforms, and advance critical public-private partnerships to support its development goals.

Just last weekend, Motsepe, a member of the WEF Board of Trustees, passed Zimbabwean billionaire Strive Masiyiwa to re-emerge as Southern Africa’s richest Black businessman.

According to Forbes, Motsepe is back on top as Southern Africa’s richest Black billionaire, with a net worth of $3.1 billion as of press time on May 21, while Masiyiwa’s net worth has dropped to $2.7 billion.

Motsepe’s net worth has increased from $2.9 billion at the start of the year to $3.1 billion at the time of writing, owing to a 6.1-percent increase in the share price of African Rainbow Minerals, the South African mining and minerals company that he founded in 1997.

In addition to other assignments at this year’s WEF Annual Meeting, the billionaire will also speak on, “Sport as a Unifying Force,” alongside Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab, and FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

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