Oando holds shareholder meeting after SEC green light

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Oando Plc held its annual shareholder meeting on Monday after regulators gave it the green light despite an ongoing dispute over its ownership structure, sending shares in the energy company higher.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said in July it was investigating Oando’s shareholding structure following its $1.65 billion acquisition of ConocoPhillips’s Nigerian business in 2014.

A company source said the dispute centred on the ownership of some Oando shares bought through an investment vehicle at the time of the ConocoPhillips deal.

Oando Chief Executive Adewale Tinubu told shareholders the SEC had allowed the meeting to proceed as the company had disclosed the relevant information to the regulator.

“Not every single allegation is true,” he told shareholders.

Shares in Oando, which are also listed in Johannesburg and Toronto, rose 3.7 percent in Lagos to 6.75 naira, taking gains so far this year to 39 percent.

Oando said in July it was aware the SEC had received petitions from some investors in relations to its shareholding structure but that the claims were untrue.

Tinubu told the meeting that management was committed to protecting the interests of all shareholders.

The company passed resolutions retaining its auditor Ernst & Young and adopting its 2016 accounts, an Oando spokesman said.

Oando bought ConocoPhillips’s Nigerian business in a bid to add oil exploration and production to its petroleum products retailing businesses. But high financing costs coupled with lower oil prices hit profits, analysts say.

Tinubu said the company had been aware of the uncertainty in 2014 but it had a detailed restructuring plan which has helped the company reduce its debt by over 40 percent to $600 million.

“Oil prices has since recovered, our production has gone up and our big challenge which we have always had, which has been the Niger Delta militants … is certainly on the decline.”

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