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Tea titan Baba Danpullo’s Nexttel appoints Benoit Yaoussou as first Cameroonian CEO

The appointment follows a heated crisis inside the company.

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Cameroonian businessman Baba Danpullo.

Former Cameroonian Posts and Telecommunications  Ministry and Telecom Regulatory Agency Inspector Benoit Yaoussou has been appointed CEO of Viettel Cameroon SA, otherwise known as Nexttel. 

Viettel Cameroon SA is a joint venture between the Viettel Global Investment JSC, a Vietnamese state telecom company, and Bestinver Cameroun S.A.R.L, a Cameroonian company owned by tea mogul Baba Ahmadou Danpullo. It is the third privately owned mobile telecom network service provider in Cameroon.

Before his appointment, the post was held by a Vietnamese executive. At the same time, two Cameroonians served as deputy CEO and chairman of the executive board. The appointments reflected the structure of the company: Viettel Cameroon was then 70-percent owned by Viettel Global Investment SA, while Danpullo owned a 30-percent stake in the business. 

However, in 2019, the Vietnamese and Cameroonian governments were forced to step in to resolve a heated management crisis between the two stakeholders.

Danpullo accused Viettel’s general manager “of running Nexttel like his private business,” IT Web reported.

He added that his Vietnamese partners were recruiting their counterparts at the expense of unemployed Cameroonians. The parties also had numerous conflicts regarding signatures for financial transactions, engaging foreign partners, purchasing telecom hardware and transferring technology.

Eventually, Vietnamese Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Nguyen Quoc Cuong, a special envoy to Vietnam’s prime minister, and Cameroonian Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute were forced to meet personally in Yaounde on May 6, 2019 to find a lasting solution to the Nexttel crisis.

Although rumors now abound that Nexttel is presently under the complete control of Danpullo, Business in Cameroon reported that no credible evidence exists to back the hypothesis.

Danpullo is the founder of Baba Ahmadou Group, a Cameroonian conglomerate that owns Ndawara Tea Estate. Ndawara is the largest privately owned tea estate in West Africa. In addition to his stake in Nexttel, Danpullo owns a significant stake in Marble Towers in Johannesburg, one of the tallest buildings in Africa.

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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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Nigerian billionaire Abdul Samad Rabiu and son receive $151.6 million in dividends from food business

Just three weeks ago, the Nigerian billionaire received a massive $208-million dividend from BUA Cement.

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Abdul Samad Rabiu. ©Billionaires.Africa

Nigerian billionaire industrialist Abdul Samad Rabiu and his son received a N62.9-billion ($151.6 million) dividend from his stake in BUA Foods Plc, his newly consolidated food conglomerate that maintains active operations in the food and agro-allied industries.

This comes nearly three weeks after the billionaire received a massive N86.5-billion ($208 million) dividend from his cement company, BUA Cement Plc, as part of cash rewards paid to shareholders.

The $151.6-million dividend, which was electronically deposited into his bank account on Thurs., Aug. 4, represents the majority of the N152-billion ($63 million) final dividend distribution approved by BUA Cement shareholders at the group’s annual general meeting.

With the recent payout from his consolidated food business, Rabiu, who has a $5.8-billion net worth, has now received a total dividend of $359.6 million from his publicly traded businesses this year, which is significantly more than the $157 million that he received last year.

BUA Foods’ multimillion-dollar dividend is the company’s first dividend payment since its shares were listed earlier this year on Jan. 5. The cash reward that shareholders received can be attributed to the company’s stellar performance during its 2021 fiscal year.

According to the group’s financial statement, which represents its first annual report since its shares were listed on the Nigerian Exchange over three months ago, BUA Foods’ profit rose by 97.05 percent, from N35.41 billion ($85.2 million) in 2020 to N69.76 billion ($167.84 million) in 2021.

Despite a decrease in its fortified sugar sales, BUA Foods reported a 13.72-percent increase in profit in the first half of 2022, owing to an 11.3-percent increase in revenue from N151.73 billion ($364.4 million) to N168.85 billion ($405.5 million).

Revenue growth was driven by higher non-fortified sugar and flour sales, which offset lower fortified sugar sales during the period under review.

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