March 22, 2011 by Daniel Osunkoya
Despite several attempts by capital market operators and regulators to persuade the management of the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) from going ahead with its delisting plan, the NBC has insisted on leaving the nation’s bourse.
Adeyanju Olomola, the NBC’s spokesperson, told NEXT that she can confirm that her company’s board and management held a meeting with the management of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in Abuja recently to explain why it has to leave the market.
“As intimated by the interim administrator of the NSE, Emmanuel Ikazoboh, the meeting enabled NBC provide the rationale and reasons behind the announcement made in December 2010; the three year strategic investment plan. The execution of which involves a reinvestment of all cash flows generated by the business in the foreseeable future and a restructuring of the share capital of the company,” Mrs. Olomola said.
She added that presentations were made by the NBC team and clarifications provided on all questions asked by the market regulators.
Arunma Oteh, SEC’s director general, said last week that the Exchange Commission received “an application from the NBC for a no objection in seeking to delist its shares.”
“Following the receipt of the application, we’ve had various discussions to understand deeper what is driving the decision. And we have been assured that what informed such is their desire to improve the NBC franchise in Nigeria. We continue to engage the board of NBC to better understand what that means and to ensure that we support foreign direct investment coming in to the country,” Ms. Oteh said.
She said the Exchange will continue to provide the platform for companies that wish to be listed and those that want to delist.
“A stock market is a place where companies have access to free entry and free exit. But we’ll make sure that the rights of all the concerned parties are fully protected, particularly the minority shareholders,” she added.
NBC, last December, announced that its parent company, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, intends to invest up to N45 billion in Nigeria between 2011 and 2013 in order to expand its commercial base.
Consequently, the proposed transaction will involve the cancellation of part of the share capital of NBC, so that it would become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Coca-Cola Hellenic. The proposal includes a cash payment of N43.00 per NBC share as consideration to the minority shareholders.
Jim Lafferty, NBC managing director, said the new investment plan of NBC is going to make Nigeria “one of the most important emerging economies in the world during the next decade.”
However, some market operators raised concerns over the absence of policies that ensure multinationals have part of their equity percentage listed on the bourse for the benefit of local investors.
The NBC, one the companies in the AG Leventis Group, was established in Nigeria in 1951 and formed the foundation of Coca-Cola Hellenic, the largest Coca-Cola bottling group in the world. It was listed on the NSE on the 12th November, 1973.