Monday, July 25, 2011 / Udeme Ekwere
Shareholders of Nigerian Bottling Company Plc have given the nod to the management of the company to delist its shares from the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
The shareholders, at a court-ordered meeting in Lagos on Friday, also agreed to the N47.71 per share pay-off recommended by the company’s Board of Directors.
During the meeting, however, a few of the minority shareholders expressed displeasure over the decision of the company to exit from the stock market.
They also said the value of the pay-off, fixed at N47.71 per share, was also very meagre.
Meanwhile, NBC is expected to continue with its processes, which will end on September 7, 2011, when the company is to emerge as a private limited liability entity.
For instance, a shareholder, Mr. Nonah Awoh, noted that a price of N65 would have been more appropriate for all parties in the transaction.
The minority share-holders, he said, were not given a fair deal in the scheme of arrangement, with the N47.71 per share. He added that the current value of the company’s assets was not factored into the payment to those who would lose their investments of many years with the delisting.
He, however, urged the company to ensure that unclaimed dividends of the company were lodged into an Escrow account, independent of the company.
Another shareholder, Mr. Timothy Adesiyan, said it would have been better to allow stakeholders to vote for the right pricing, since ordinary shareholders were no longer part owners of the company.
Speaking at the meeting, the Chairman of the company, Mr. Olusegun Apata, said there was wide consultation before the price of N47.71 per share was arrived at.
He explained that the company held wide consultation with institutional investors, various shareholders groups and other stakeholders.
He said, “NBC did its best to raise the pay-off from N37 per share initially proposed at the time of the notice of delisting was filed with the management of the NSE to N47. 71 per share, and we feel that the premium is huge enough to attract commendation from shareholders.
“Unfortunately, our company will not be able to go beyond the offering value to stakeholders, but we assure stakeholders that we would not take charge of the unclaimed dividend, which currently stands at N455m, as the scheme of consideration in the processes would terminate in 12 years, effective from the date of commencement of payment.”
He noted that owners of unclaimed dividends could always apply for them at the appropriate time, through the order of the court, adding that the funds were only being held in trust by the company.
The company had, last year, filed a notice of delisting following plans to sell the total minority stake of NBC to the parent company – Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Company.