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Shareholding states of Odu’a Investment Company Limited (OICL) at its 41st Annual General Meeting held recently in Lagos, approved the recommended gross dividend of N428 million, a 2.2 percent increase over the N418 million paid for the 2021 financial year. Despite all odds, the 2022 dividend made it a sum of N2.56 billion consistent dividend payment by the Group over the last nine years.

The Board of Odu’a Investment Company Limited(OICL) has given assurance that with the renewed business strategies and expansion drive, the company would indeed keep the legacy of the founding fathers alive while on the pathway to becoming a global conglomerate. This was disclosed recently while receiving commendations from shareholding states – Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti, and Lagos, at the 41st Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja.

Chairman of OICL, Bimbo Ashiru, while speaking to the Nigerian Tribune on the sideline of the AGM, was confident that with the reforms, among which is the oil license approval, the company will compete globally as it bids to become a world-class conglomerate.

With its business transactions and potential investments in energy, power, agriculture, and real estate, among others, OICL is indeed expanding its portfolio into uncharted business sectors that could move the company as a global player in the future.

In June 2022, the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) handed over the license for the BITA Marginal Field covered by PPL 249 to Bita Exploration & Production Company (BEPL), the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) jointly owned by Odu’a Investment Company Limited and Pioneer Global & Resources Limited.

Having received its oil and gas exploration and production license with its production subsidiary, BITA Exploration, and Production Limited, OICL aimed to start drilling by the second quarter of 2024, the chairman said, noting that this would be a game changer for the company.

Recently, the conglomerate revealed plans to partner with the governments of the six South-West states on power generation and distribution in the region, following President Bola Tinubu’s signing of the Electricity Law, which authorized states, companies, and individuals to generate, transmit and distribute electricity. This indeed reinforces the company’s commitment to be the engine room of the business in the South-West.

Ashiru, during the AGM, noted that as part of fulfilling its responsibilities of steering the company towards achieving its potential, the board has remained committed to the execution of our Five-year Strategy, referred to as SRC (Sweat, Revive and Create) 2025. The central thrusts of the strategy include sustainably improving returns by sweating existing assets, reviving moribund businesses within its portfolio or optimizing its assets, and creating new businesses across our priority sectors (Agriculture, Healthcare, Real Estate, Hospitality, Financial Services, Energy, ICT and Transportation and Logistics).

“During the year in review, we made significant progress in the area of business development. We developed a significant pipeline of business transactions and potential investments, some of which will translate into viable businesses and partnerships.

He noted that in the year 2022, the board worked tirelessly to improve the quality and depth of engagement with the board and management of subsidiaries across the group. “Our emphasis was on setting the foundations for improved shared service arrangements and deriving intra-group synergies. We plan to leverage our shared service programs to drive group-wide culture and standardized business practices. We expect that these efforts will result in increased efficiency and effectiveness of our operations. Our conversations with the subsidiaries have also extended to improving cross-selling of products and services within the Group.”

Recalling engagements held in 2022, Ashiru noted that the board intensified engagements with stakeholders, including shareholders, investee companies, developmental finance institutions, and bilateral institutions. “These engagements, some of which were with international institutions and forums such as the Canadian Council (Nigeria-Canada & Investment Business Forum), International Finance Corporation, the Commonwealth Business Forum, and the African Export-Import Bank, were aimed at positioning us for opportunities locally and internationally. We also engaged our shareholders more closely with the hope of enhancing points of mutual value creation between the states and our businesses.”

In its hospitality business, to achieve a world-class, OICL, in December 2022, reached an agreement with a strategic partner to remodel, renovate and upgrade the existing Premier Hotel from an 87-room hotel to a 150-room five-star hotel. The redeveloped hotel will be equipped with world-class conferencing facilities, restaurants, recreational facilities, and ample parking. The project is expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2025.

Looking ahead, Ashiru is optimistic that 2023 would be rewarding. “I believe that the year 2023 will be pivotal for the business. Several transformational initiatives in our operations will be completed or nearing completion, and it will therefore be a year of consolidating on the significant shift that the Board and Management have worked so diligently to achieve over the last three years. The multiplier effects that we expect on our revenue and asset base have begun to appear, and the trajectory of the business can only be upwards.”

Speaking on the real estate business of the conglomerate, the General Managing Director of OICL, Adewale Raji, noted Wemabod Limited, the full-fledged real estate business, has made significant progress in line with the board’s strategic thrusts.

“In the areas of property and facility management, Odu’a Investment Company Limited’s properties were officially handed over to Wemabod for management, making it one of the largest property management companies in the country by asset under management,” he said.

For its Agriculture and Agribusiness, South West Agricultural Company Limited (SWAgCo), working with Odu’a Investment Company Limited, has commenced work on the revitalization of agricultural assets across the South West region, Raji noted.

“These efforts include seeking partnerships for the development of Group land assets of about 40,000 hectares, operationalizing land assets, and partnering with third parties players to develop other critical agriculture infrastructure assets in the region. In 2022, its operations cut across the rice, maize, soybean, and cassava value chains,” he added.

Speaking on the financial result for the year ended 2022, the GMD noted that Odu’a Investment Company recorded a revenue of N3.68 billion in 2022 which was an 8.5 percent decrease from the 2021 amount of N4.01 billion. Profit Before Tax was N4.08 billion, compared to the 2021 figure of N9.37 billion. This was driven mainly by a reduction in revaluation gains on investment properties from N7.11 billion in 2021 to N2.98 billion in 2022. These gains do not occur on all our properties all at once and will typically vary from one year to another. If these accounting gains are removed, the normalized Profit Before Tax for 2022 will be N1.1 billion compared to N2.26 billion for 2021

Based on this modest profitability, the Board of Odu’a Investment Company Limited proposed for the approval of the shareholders, a gross dividend of N428 million. This is a 2.2 percent increase over the N418 million paid for the 2021 financial year. Should this recommendation be approved and paid out, it will bring the total dividend paid to shareholders over the last nine years to the sum of N2.56 billion.

Outside its business ventures, to promote social development and the welfare of the people in the six South-West states, OICL inaugurated the Odua Investment Foundation on Thursday.

Speaking at the inauguration, the pioneer chairman of the Advisory Council, Ambassador Tokunbo Awolowo Dosumu, noted that the board and management are gradually piloting the company towards rebirth and regeneration, as it is emerging from its challenging years and expanding its portfolio into hitherto uncharted business sectors.