Article below written by Forbes contributor Mfonobong Nsehe for Forbes magazine.
Nigerian billionaire Femi Otedola has lost more than $400 million of his personal fortune over the last 9 weeks as the stock price of Forte Oil, the Nigerian-listed energy behemoth he controls, shed off 43.5% in value within that period.
In late February the share price of Forte Oil hit an all-time high of N342 per share after the Lagos-based utilities and petroleum marketing company released its impressive 2015 FY results and declared an attractive dividend of N3.45 per share. However, as at close of trading today (Tuesday), its share price has dropped to N193.46 after recording consistent daily losses over the past few weeks. Otedola, who is the company’s controlling shareholder, has seen his paper net worth drop from $1.6 billion when FORBES published its annual ranking of the World’s Billionaires in March, to $1.2 billion today, according to the FORBES’ real-time billionaire scorecard.
A source at Forte Oil says that the drop in the company’s share price is not unconnected to massive sell-offs of bonus shares from some of the company’s retail investors. Last year, Forte Oil offered investors a bonus of 1 new share for every 5 ordinary shares they held. In total, Forte Oil declared roughly 216 million bonus shares for the 2014 business year. The bonus shares were only issued to investors a couple of weeks ago and they have been scrabbling to sell off their bonus shares on the market to cash in. This mass sell-off has precipitated the drop in the share price.
“This is only temporary. As you’ll see, even though investors are selling off their bonus shares, there are institutional investors who are buying up all the shares on offer as evidenced by the volume of the transactions in the last few days. When all those bonus shares are cleared up by institutional investors, you’ll see the share price rising again,” the source said.
Of the 216 million bonus shares which have been issued, Femi Otedola received approximately 170 million.
Forte Oil PLC is primarily engaged in the distribution of petroleum products such as diesel, aviation fuel and Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). The company has over 500 company-owned, dealer-assisted and dealer-developed gas stations spread across the country, oil storage depots in Lagos and Rivers states, a Power plant and a Joint User Hydrant Installation facility in Lagos. The company also sells its own range of automobile lubricants. In 2014 the company was included in the Morgan Stanley Capital International Frontier Market 100 Index.
Source: Forbes magazine.