BILLIONAIRE mogul behind Forte Oil, Femi Otedola swayed into the Golden Club on Tuesday, November 4, 2014, without the hue and cry and extravagance that heralds such a landmark celebration, encomium.ng reliably gathered.
The stylish man of means who only adorns white brocade (buba and sokoto) to the office and official events was in Abuja (Federal Capital Territory) where there was apparently no loud event in his honour on his birthday.
From Odoragunshin near Epe (Lagos), the father of three daughters (Christy, Ifeoluwa and Temi) and a son (Femi) is married to Nana (who owns Garment Care) and both have homes in Knightsbridge, London (United Kingdom), Ikoyi (Lagos) and Abuja (both in Nigeria). There are whispers of superlative pads in Monaco (France) and in the United States of America.
With about $1.2 billion (N199.2 billion) net worth, according to Forbes Africa in its latest edition, the comeback billionaire (who was delisted over the years had $1.1 billion against his name in 2009) is lucky to have reclaimed his crown.
With about 80 per cent stake in publicly listed Forte Oil, the handsome philanthropist is rolling in dough. And with the 414 mega watts Geregu power plant in Kogi, he’s settling well at the top.
ENCOMIUM SPECIAL, the feel-good authentic celebrity journal applauded the tycoon thus in 2006:
FORTUNE is Femi Otedola’s friend. It has long been his companion and ally ever since we can remember. Many zeroes are added after his net worth year after year and since 1999 when Zenon Petroleum and Gas berthed, big money has been his Siamese twin. Today, $810 million can be easily attached to him.
The 42 year-old son of the former governor of Lagos (that’s the adulated 80 year-old elder statesman, Sir Michael Agbolade Otedola) has invested well and reaped returns in trailer loads. The company he started small but with a clear model, supplying diesel to homes and offices, now imports the products in metric tonnes, emerging as the biggest player in the market in Africa.
With four ships (Sir Michael, Lady Doja, MT Nana and Zenon Conquest) to ferry the products on the high seas to base in Apapa (Lagos), he also has the largest storage facilities, and hundreds of trailers and, he caught us by surprise with brand new stations which sell diesel at N70 per litre directly to end users. The one on Apapa/Oshodi Expressway labeled Zenon Diesel Direct has become the bride of Lagosians. There is one on Ikorodu Road, and another in Falomo, Ikoyi, set to liberate and gladden all with rock bottom prices.
The kerosene king was the lucky buyer of the nation’s shipping giant, National Unity Line which he clinched for $20 million on December 1, 2005.
Investments in stocks and shares are his pastime. On Thursday, November 16, 2006, he parted with N3 billion to buy into Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc. In the banking sector, his shares are worth N20 billion, holding large chunks of Zenith Bank, First City Monument Bank, Bank PHB and United Bank for Africa stocks.
Property has become the object of romance of the wonder boy who is splashing huge resources on luxury flats. Parkview Estate, Cooper Road, both in Ikoyi (Lagos), and Port Harcourt (Rivers), are some of the spots parading his ‘high rises.’
Fond of saying money is only spent on earth, and not a medium of exchange in Heaven, he readily plants smiles on many faces. In the last two years, many oranisations and individuals have enjoyed his benevolence. Let’s just list a few: N375 million, Ecumenical Centre in Abuja; N200 million, scholarships for indigent students from Lagos on behalf of his father; N200 million, Presidential Library in Abeokuta; N25 million, Abuja Mosque.
Let’s take a seat and enjoy a glass of water, and rest for now…
Rudiments of style of the most commendable kind are buried in the bosom of the likeable oil baron and shipping magnate. Everything around him bears the stamp of soigné from his homes to his cars and object d’art.
A 55 feet, £1 million yacht floats on the sea for his enjoyment. The all-white beauty is christened ‘Nana’ after his adorable wife who runs Garment Care, a leading dry cleaning company. And another one, much larger and luxurious is on the way.
For wonders on wheels, there is a gleaming navy blue Rolls Royce Phantom, a Mercedes Benz Coupe (both in London), the wondrous McLaren with ‘Z’ number plate, and several Benz G wagons.
The good-looking philanthropist has moved into his N2.2 billion 21st century home (built by Julius Berger) on Mekunwen (in Ikoyi, Lagos), which defined what taste can accomplish. We still can’t get over the £18.6 million flat in Knightsbridge, opposite the famous Harrods in London which is on two floors. Remember the two mansions on the Bishops Avenue, North West of London, valued at £24 million?
The Abuja splendor put at $2.6 million is there. So is the miracle on Walter Carrington, Victoria Island, Lagos (the former Embassy of Finland), estimated at N2 billion, which will serve as Zenon headquarters, overlooking the sea (nearing completion and also handled by Julius Berger).
With the purchase of majority shares in then African Petroleum, his destiny wore beautiful and brilliant garbs. He went on a spree of acquisition of stocks and shares and huge investment in property in Nigeria and across the world.
But his fingers were burnt and he lost almost everything, owing banks over N192.4 billion in 2011. He cut his losses and began afresh. Becoming quieter and more reflective, he honed his come-back game plan and strategies. Deciding to forfeit his assets and paying N141 billion to Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) in 2012, he took bold steps, eating the humble pie and facing derision and jibes.
Femi Otedola enjoys the good things of life and he has dozens of objects of desire to show for it. ENCOMIUM Special, the all-gloss, all-colour authentic celebrity journal had listed some of his fabulous objet d’art in 2006 as the £18.6 million Knightsbridge luxury flat opposite Harrods in London, £1 luxury yacht, N2.2 billion mansion in Ikoyi constructed by Julius Berger, $2.6 million Abuja house, N2 billion ZENON Place in Victoria Island, and array of Marques including Rolls Royce Phantom…
The man who got a second chance, sources told us, may be hosted in the coming days to an upscale event to mark his 50th birthday.
“Whatever is being planned will be classy and without fuss or noise”, an insider told encomium.ng in the evening of Tuesday, November 4, 2014. “But definitely, the family has planned several soirée.”
Like all investors, especially one that reclaimed a spot on Forbes billionaires’ list, Femi Otedola is deeply worried about the fall in share prices on the Nigerian Stock Exchange equities index. Forte Oil, his major investment where he owns majority shares, lost N23.60 in three days. From N204.15 on Wednesday, November 5, it dropped to N194.75 on Thursday, November 6, and N175.77 by Friday, November 7. It gained N8.78 by the end of trading on Monday, November 10 (jumping from N175.77 t0 N184.55).
– KUNLE BAKARE