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Late Azeez Alao- Arisekola’s Familly’s Redemptive Moves

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Alhaji Azeez Alao- Arisekola, before his death, was arguably  one of the wealthiest men in Nigeria.

He had his hand in many pies, including food production, real estate management, insurance, transport, and publishing.  

His name spread beyond the shores of Africa, and he was one of the few Nigerian businessman who rubbed shoulders with other top business mogul around the world.

He established a fleet of business outfits under the Lister conglomerate, while he was still in his early 20s.

Since the death of the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland in 2014, the family had not found it easy, as it had been enmeshed in a legal issue over some debts he had incurred.

However, www.crystal.com.ng gathered that peace might soon return to the the family, as a Federal High Court recently adjourned till February 17, 2020 ,for First bank of Nigeria Limited and Lister Flour Mills (the company owned  by  the late Ibadan business mogul) to file another term of settlement in a N10.7billion debt recovery suit pending before the court-the initial  terms of settlement filed before the court was alleged to have been aborted.

A source revealed that “When the matter was mentioned, the counsel representing First Bank told the court that the terms of settlement filed before the court could not be adopted because the defendants, Lister Oil Limited  Mills and Mrs Khadijah Alao -Straub, have scuttled the  terms of the settlement.

“Consequently, they are fine-tuning another terms of settlement that will soon be filed before the court, once the process is completed.

“Therefore, the court was urged to grant them an adjournment,which the court acceded to.”

 The bank allegedly granted credit facilities to Lister, which were renewed and restructured.

It eventually culminated into a debit balance of N10, 787,556,430.02 , while the interest continued to accrue.

The securities for the facilities availed the   Lister Flour Mills by the  bank amongst others include the company’s undertaking, goodwill and assets,including the entire piece and parcel of land lying being at Idiroko Olomoyoyo, Ibadan – Ijebu Ode Road, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria together with the building or building erected thereon.

 It also includes the Lister Oil Company’s Deed of Corporate Guarantee dated May 22, 2013 wherein the Company  guaranteed the repayment of the various facilities availed the Lister Flour Mills by the  bank; personal guarantee of Ismail Alao dated May 22, 2013,wherein he guaranteed the repayment of the various facilities availed Lister Flour Mills.

But it was gathered that Lister  Flour Mills had failed to fully repay the loans to First Bank and the loans remain unpaid till date.

 The  bank, in exercise of its rights as Mortgagee under the Deed of legal Mortgage over the lagos Property, appointed a Receiver of the property and assets of the Lister Flour Mills.

The Deed of Appointment of the Receiver together with the Notice of Appointment were duly filed with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

  The bank and its receiver /manager filed this legal  action  seeking orders of the court to restrain the defendants or any person acting under their authority or any person whether shareholder, officers, agents, privies and/ or employees from challenging, interfering with or otherwise obstructing the performance of the statutory duties of the Receiver/manager in any manner whatsoever.

On  February 11, 2015, the court granted the orders as prayed by the receiver/manager.

  The defendants, it was gathered, denied all the claims made in the debt recovery suit filed against them and are challenging the appointment of the  receiver/ manager over Lister Flour Mills Nigeria Limited as well as steps, which the receiver/manager had taken.

However, the parties have now agreed to settle and resolve this legal action together with other related suits arising from receivership upon the time and conditions stated in the terms of settlement.

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Lasaco Assurance: Looking Good For The Future By Rilwan Oshinusi 

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Since its over 40 years of existence and particularly within the last five years, Lasaco Assurance Plc has consistently made remarkable progress and contributed positively to the growth of the insurance industry through our strict adherence to professional standards.
The company has insisted on doing business with honesty, empathy and the fear of God and made its clients get value for their investments, thus, making them (clients) rely on the company as their dependable companion.
This has culminated in a lot of noticeable positive changes that have kept Lasaco in the top position in its line of business. Its core values, purpose and mission have continued to make it a leading brand in the insurance industry in Nigeria.
Lasaco’s improved performance, especially in the last five years, was driven by various transformational and growth changes implemented by the Board of Directors and Management, which have resulted in significant changes to its organisational structures and performance. Its marketing effort is now through a strategic branch structure (organised on a regional basis) for adequate coverage of the entire country in order to increase our penetration.
These changes were also supported by various capacity upgrades, including robust procedures and policies which have enhanced its operations as well as improved the company’s performance and growth. It has significantly upscaled the quality of its service delivery as well as considerably reduced service turnaround times.
Thus, Lasaco has grown considerably in size, business-coverage, capital base and assets with its operations spanning all classes of insurance and special risks business as well as real estate.
Lasaco’s business portfolio currently includes leadership and a significant share of key Federal and State Governments insurance businesses, multinationals and private companies. In the last five years, the Company has embarked on strategic programmes to boost its growth, performance and transformation in line with its vision and organisational goal.
In the area of growth, the Company has recorded about 30% increase in its Gross Premium Income within five years. Financially, Lasaco is strong with an asset base of about N17 billion and a high solvency margin ratio. It has consistently paid dividends to shareholders since the last three years.
As part of its transformation agenda, Lasaco remodelled its Head Office to a world-class workplace environment as well as rebranded to embrace the company’s global nature while retaining its root of origin.
The Nigerian insurance market has been faced with different challenges in its efforts to serve the needs of the relevant stakeholders. As a result, the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), the body responsible for the regulation of the insurance industry has, over time, devised different means in its aim to achieve this.
With the recent Recapitalisation Guidelines issued by NAICOM to meet up with the requirements, Lasaco’s shareholders have been proactive to approve the raising of N10 billion additional capital through Special/Private Placement. The arrangement is at an advanced stage, and soon they (the shareholders) and new investors will be allowed to increase their shareholding and/or invest newly.
Since January 2020, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has transformed the whole world and presented tremendous challenges with reverberating effects medically, socially and economically. Thank God that the company has kept its head afloat working tirelessly to ensure that its effect does not keep it out of business.
Lasaco’s investment in ICT infrastructure is yielding fruit as most of its staff are effectively working remotely with minimal disruption, since most of the Company’s documents are now stored in the clouds, arranged methodically for ease of retrieval.
As a socially responsible corporate citizen that supports government’s efforts in curbing the spread of the deadly COVID19, LASACO, along with other major insurance companies, under the leadership of Nigerian Insurers Association and National Insurance Commission, provided Testing Materials, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Life Insurance Cover free of charge to 5,000 front line health workers across the country.
Prior to this, the Company had extended such gestures to two states by providing Life Insurance Cover for an appreciable number of health workers and volunteers in Lagos State and the State of Osun.
Digital technologies are fundamentally changing how companies in the insurance industry operate and serve their customers, and Lasaco is not exempted. The company intends to transform its claims administration process and customer experiences via digitalisation. Its website has been revamped to ease the process of buying an insurance policy or filing a claim.
As a growth strategy to further increase our branch network and national presence, Lasaco intends to expand its branches and operating base network to include locations such as the South-South and South East regions of Nigeria.
No doubt, the future looks brighter for the company as it continue to make sacrifice to satisfy its clients so as to make the investments of the company’s shareholders continue to yield positive results.
Rilwan Oshinusi is the Deputy Managing Director, Corporate Services, Lasaco Assurance PLC

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Facebook Announces its New Office in Lagos, Nigeria

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As part of its continued commitment and ongoing investment in Africa, Facebook today announced it will be opening an office in Lagos, Nigeria – its second office on the African continent. Aimed at supporting the entire Sub-Saharan Africa region, the office is expected to become operational in H2 2021 and will be the first on the continent to house a team of expert engineers building for the future of Africa and beyond.Facebook’s office will be home to various teams servicing the continent from across the business, including Sales, Partnerships, Policy, Communications as well as Engineers.Commenting, Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Head of New Product Experimentation said: “The opening of our new office in Lagos, Nigeria presents new and exciting opportunities in digital innovations to be developed from the continent and taken to the rest of the world. All across Africa we’re seeing immense talent in the tech ecosystem, and I’m proud that with the upcoming opening of our new office, we’ll be building products for the future of Africa, and the rest of the world, with Africans at the helm. We look forward to contributing further to the African tech ecosystem.” The investment of the new Facebook office follows the 2018 opening of NG_Hub, its first flagship community hub space in Africa in partnership with CcHub, and the 2019 opening of a Small Business Group (SBG) Operations Centre in Lagos, in partnership with Teleperformance. Providing outsourced support to all English-speaking advertisers across Sub-Saharan Africa, the SBG office supports Small Medium Businesses (SMBs) through its Advocacy, Community & Education (ACE) programme, as well as its Marketing Expert sales programmes – all aimed at enabling SMBs to accelerate the growth and development of their businesses. “Our new office in Nigeria presents an important milestone which further reinforces our ongoing commitment to the region”, commented Kojo Boakye, Facebook’s Director of Public Policy, Africa. “Our mission in Africa is no different to elsewhere in the world – to build community and bring the world closer together, and I’m excited about the possibilities that this will create, not just in Nigeria, but across Africa.” Since the opening of its first office in 2015, Facebook has made a number of investments across the continent, aimed at supporting and growing the tech ecosystem, expanding and providing reliable connectivity infrastructures and helping businesses to grow locally, regionally and globally. This includes the recent rollout of its SMB Grants programme in Nigeria and South Africa, aimed at supporting over 900 businesses by providing a combination of cash and ad credits to help small businesses as they rebuild from COVID. The development of 2Africa, the world’s largest subsea cable project that will deliver much needed internet capacity and reliability across large parts of Africa, as well as its ongoing training programmes across the continent which support various communities including students, SMBs, digital creatives, female entrepreneurs, start-up’s and developers.  Nunu Ntshingila, Regional Director, Facebook Africa,said: “We’re delighted to be announcing our new office in Nigeria. Five years on from opening our first office on the continent in Johannesburg, South Africa, we’re continuing to invest in and support local talent, as well as the various communities that use our platforms. The office in Lagos will also be key in helping to expand how we service our clients across the continent.”

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Billionaire Businessman, Harry Akande, Battles Shoprite

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Billionaire Harry Ayoade Akande towers above many of his contemporaries, particularly because he has been in warm embrace of fame for many decades.

Beyond his famed status as a successful businessman, he has also remained very relevant owing to his uncommon brilliance, a quality that has endeared him to many across the globe.

The Agbaoye of Ibadan, who set out to pursue his dreams quite early in life, had served as a business advisor and consultant to many other businessmen, including governments of several nations.

The world-class businessman in the past has scored many firsts in the nation’s business climate to the envy of many of his competitors.

Indeed, he would have scored yet another first in 2005, as the South African retail store, Shoprite, had several meetings with  his company, AIC Limited, and agreed  his company would be the exclusive operator and manager of its brand across West Africa, except Ghana where the Shoprite brand was already established.

Consequently , there were a series of business meetings between Akande’s representatives and Shoprite Checkers first in South Africa on April 16, 1998 and then at Akande’s office in Victoria Island, Lagos on May 27, 1998.

Shoprite was also said to have flown in representatives who were shown possible locations for retail stores at some locations ,including Lekki Roundabout, Trade fair Complex and Lagos National Theatre, Iganmu.

But  when the South African retail giant was ready to commence operations in Nigeria, it allegedly sidelined Akande’s AIC and incorporated another company, Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited, and began using the new entity to operate in Nigeria, thereby breaching agreements between them.

The billionaire was upset and this led to a prolonged legal battle with Akande securing a 2018 major victory against the South African retail group for breaching contract between both parties in Suit No LD/488/2010 —AIC Limited (Claimant) v Shoprite Checkers (PTY) Ltd of South Africa and Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited (Defendants).

However, Shoprite owners appealed the judgement, while the Ibadan, Oyo State-born billionaire secured another victory  in May 2020  at the appellate court.

Though the three-man panel of Court of Appeal , Lagos Division, didn’t agree to Akande’s cross appeal, demanding 50 per cent of $92.3million as loss of profit he suffered due to the incorporation of Retail Supermarkets Limited, it unanimously affirmed the judgment of a Lagos High Court that awarded $10 million (N4.7 billion) damages against Shoprite Checkers (PTY) Limited.

Apart from the $10 million award, the court had directed the South African retail giant to pay 10 percent per annum on the damages, with effect from the date of judgment until the final liquidation of the entire sum.

Consequently, the shrewd businessman has initiated a fresh legal battle  at the Federal High Court to halt Shoprite Checkers’ exit moves out of Nigeria until the entire sum demanded is paid to the last kobo.

The billionaire, through his company, has got an ex-parte application for an order of Mareva Injunction restraining the South African retail giant, its privies, officers, nominees, successors-in-title, subsidiaries or anyone acting through it or by it from transferring, assigning, charging, disposing of its trademark, franchise and intellectual property in a manner that will alter, dissipate or remove these non-cash assets from the court’s jurisdiction.

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