Transcorp: Atiku declined offer of 100m shares

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August 11, 2006/punch




Vice-President Atiku Abubakar refused an offer to buy 100million shares made by the Transnational Corporation Plc soon after its incorporation in 2004, our correspondents have learnt.

The shares were offered to initial subscribers at N1 per share, but the unit price was raised to N6.00 during the private placement conducted in April 2006, during which about N18billion was raised.

In a letter addressed to the Managing Director of Transcorp, a copy of which was made available to our correspondents, the vice-president wrote, I have just been informed that some shares have been reserved for me in your corporation for which I am expected to subscribe.

I write to formally inform you of my decline of the offer. I thank you for the kind gesture and wish you best of luck.”

Meanwhile, the Presidency said on Wednesday that President Olusegun Obasanjo did not buy shares in Transcorp.

It had been reported on Wednesday edition that Obasanjo owns 200million shares in the Transcorp, which was acquired when the company was floated in 2004, through a blind trust controlled by Obasanjo Holdings Limited, which oversees the presidents business interests.

But the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media, Mrs. Oluremi Oyo, told our correspondent in Abuja that the president was not involved in the company, which recently won the bid for the troubled first national operator.

Oyo, in response to our correspondents, inquires about the matter, said, There is nothing to react to. Before the President came in, he divested his interest in all his companies, so if any of the companies decide to buy or invest in other companies, the President is not involved.”

Transcorps Corporate Affairs Manager, Mr. Adebayo Ojo, also tacitly denied Obasanjos involvement in the company.

I do not have any information that the President has any shares in Transcorp,” he told our correspondent on the phone on Wednesday, adding that the presidents spokespeople were in the best position to tell.

He said Transcorp already had more than 2,000 shareholders but could not confirm if Obasanjo was one of them.

Ojo said the company had raised about N17billion share capital and was preparing for its Initial Public Offer, which was likely to be floated before the end of September.

Commenting on the matter, the National Coordinator of Independent Shareholders Association, Mr. Sunny Nwosu, said since Transcorp was an idea of Obasanjo, it was normal for him to invest in it to make other investors have confidence in the company.

What I believe is necessary at this point is to investigate whether the money the president used to buy the shares is ‘clean money. Otherwise there is nothing wrong in his investing in the company,” he said.

However, another shareholder and National Coordinator, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr. Boniface Okezie, said Obasanjo was supposed to remain neutral.

He said, The move is totally wrong. If the members of his family do that it could be acceptable. He ought to have waited and after leaving office he can buy the shares since the company would be listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.”

According to Okezie, it will be difficult to convince people that Transcorp is not buying up governments properties because of Obasanjos influence as an investor in the company.

Nigeria should show transparency. As somebody who is fighting corruption through Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, he should set good examples. Look at the former President of United States, Bill Clinton. He did not own a house while he was in office. It was after he left office that he acquired his own house. That is how it should be,” he said.

The Transcorp idea was conceived by Obasanjo to serve as a national conglomerate, fashioned after the great trading houses of Japan and Korea, to operate in global markets.

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