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Philanthropist and banker Tony Elumelu launches Aura hospitality app on Nigerian market

The launch took place in Abuja on July 8 with national dignitaries in attendance.

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Philanthropist and banker Tony Elumelu. ©Billionaires.Africa

Transcorp Hotels Plc has officially launched Aura, an innovative mobile app that seeks to meet the all-in-one hospitality needs of consumers on its primary market, Nigeria. 

Transcorp Hotels, which has two subsidiaries in Abuja and Calabar, is an arm of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp). Transcorp was founded by multimillionaire banker and philanthropist Tony Elumelu in 1994. 

The launch took place in Abuja on July 8 with national dignitaries in attendance, such as Vice President Prof. Yemi Oshibanjo, Speaker of the House Femi Gbajabiamila and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami.

“I think the unique offering here is that Transcorp Hotels is putting its huge reputation, track record and success behind helping customers choose the best accommodation,” Oshibanjo said. “I think this is great and it will help revive the hospitality industry especially after the downturn in the aftermath of COVID-19.”

Aura is a digital platform that leverages technology to deliver accessible hospitality in Nigeria, affording customers the ease of booking any service at their fingertips. The app helps members of the public make reservations for hotels, apartments, spas and restaurants.

Transcorp Hotels CEO Dupe Olusola was reported by Leadership as saying: “Aura is an opportunity to diversify our economy, it is an opportunity to create jobs and employment, an opportunity to develop domestic tourism and leisure travel. There is nothing that has been done like this before in Nigeria and our plan is to go beyond and to Africa and take on the world.”

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South African tech tycoon Zak Calisto gains $166 million in four weeks

Calisto is one of Africa’s richest tech entrepreneurs.

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South African tech tycoon Zak Calisto.

As the frenzy returns to equity markets, shares in Karooooo Limited have risen recently by double digits due to sustained buying interest as investors bet on tech stocks trading at all-time lows.

Karooooo Limited is a mobility platform led by South African businessman Zak Calisto.

As a result of the recent market surge, the value of Calisto’s 74.7-percent stake in Karooooo has increased by $166 million in the past 27 days to well above $640 million.

Calisto, who founded Karooooo and grew it into an international provider of smart transportation management solutions, is one of South Africa’s wealthiest men and one of Africa’s richest tech entrepreneurs.

As of press time on Aug. 10, the company’s shares were trading at $27.85 per share, up from their opening price of $26.98 per share earlier this week. The Singapore-based mobility platform’s market capitalization is presently $860 million.

The company’s shares have increased from a price of $20.65 to $27.85 at the time of writing this report, representing a 34.87-percent gain for patient investors since July 14.

The market value of Calisto’s shareholding in Karooooo has increased from $477.6 million on July 14 to $644.1 million at the time of writing, representing a $166-million gain for the tech tycoon.

The renewed buying interest in Karooooo’s shares can be attributed to investor reactions to the company’s double-digit increase in earnings in the first quarter of its 2023 fiscal year.

According to its recently published first quarter results, the Singapore-based global mobility SaaS platform’s profit increased by 44 percent to R156 million ($9.37 million), up from R108 million ($6.48 million) in the first quarter of 2022.

Earnings increased by double digits due to the higher revenue generated during the period, as the company’s total subscriber base surpassed 1.5 million, up from less than 1.4 million a year ago.

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Abu Dhabi-based Chimera acquires controlling stake in financial services provider linked to Egypt’s richest family

It is unclear how much of the 59.22 percent stake held by Orascom Financial Holding, a firm led by the billionaire Sawiris family, was acquired during the transaction.

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Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris

Chimera Investment, an Abu Dhabi-based firm led by Pakistani businessman Syed Basar Shueb, has announced the purchase of a majority stake in Beltone Financial Holding SAE, a Cairo-based financial services firm partially owned by Egypt’s richest family, the Sawiris.

According to a press release issued by the Abu Dhabi-based firm, a total of 55.9 percent of Beltone’s shareholding was acquired at a price of EGP1.485 ($0.0779) per share, bringing the total transaction value to EGP370 million ($19.3 million).

It is unclear how much of the 59.22-percent stake held by Orascom Financial Holding, a firm led by the Egyptian billionaire Sawiris family, was acquired during the share-purchase transaction. However, it is clear that Chimera is now the majority shareholder in Beltone as a result of the recent deal.

Syed Basar Shueb, chairman of Chimera Investment, commented on the transaction, stating that it aligns with Chimera’s broader strategy of long-term value creation investments and expands the company’s presence in regional economies.

He went on to state that, in the coming months, the Abu Dhabi-based firm will look to unlock value and implement an all-encompassing transformation plan aimed at restoring Beltone’s growth and profitability.

In addition to the transaction, Dalia Khorshid, the chairwoman and CEO of MASAR Financial Advisory, a regional financial advisory firm, was appointed as the new CEO of Beltone, as the Egyptian firm enters a new phase of growth under new management.

“I am honored by the opportunity to lead Beltone’s strategic transformation plan,” Khorshid said in response to her recent appointment as CEO. “I am confident that we will restructure and grow this institution to become a major market leader in the region and a solid platform for attracting international investments into our host markets.”

Beltone, a financial services provider in Egypt and the Middle East and North Africa, was founded in 2006 to provide brokerage, investment banking, asset management, equity research, and a variety of non-banking financial services like leasing, consumer finance, and venture capital platforms.

In a $1.3-million deal nearly a year ago, Orascom Financial Holding, led by Egypt’s Sawiris family, reduced its stake in Beltone to 59.22 from 61.24 percent.

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Ardova dismisses winding-up order, as Femi Otedola’s Zenon serves majority shareholder petition over $6-million debt

The once promising relationship between Otedola’s Zenon and Abdulwasiu Sowami’s Prudent Energy has taken a new turn.

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Femi Otedola. ©Billionaires.Africa

Arodva Plc, a Nigerian oil and gas marketing company majority owned by Nigerian businessman Abdulwasiu Sowami, has denied reports that it is facing a winding-up petition over a $6-million debt owed to Zenon Petroleum & Gas Limited, an oil company founded by billionaire businessman Femi Otedola.

The news comes as the once promising relationship between Otedola’s Zenon and Sowami’s Prudent Energy, Ardova’s majority shareholder, takes a new turn over the debt.

The oil company stated in a press release on Tuesday that its management’s attention has been drawn to recent media claims regarding the debt, and it is critical to set the record straight that no winding-up petitions are presently facing the company in relation to the 2019 transaction.

The company went on to state that the current issues are related to claims and warranties made under a share-purchase agreement between Prudent Energy and Zenon for the purchase of shares in Forte Oil Plc in a $200-million deal in 2019.

The management went on to state that Ardova is not party to any of the proceedings, that the proceedings have no bearing on the company’s rights or operations, and that it has no claims against its assets.

Zenon, which has a guarantee for the prompt payment of the debt, served Prudent Energy with a petition earlier this week, more than a month after the deferred consideration, which was due on June 18, had yet to be paid despite demand letters sent to Sowami.

Experts believe that the dispute will reignite debate over Ardova’s share ownership structure.

The $6-million debt, which represents the remaining purchase consideration for the Forte Oil stake, adds to Prudent Energy’s pressures, as shares in Ardova, the company that it acquired nearly three years ago, have fallen significantly from an average price of N23.6 ($0.055) per share in 2019 to N13 ($0.0305) per share at the time of writing this report.

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