A Week in Nigeria: 27 April

The kidnap of Shell workers was among a number of high profile security flashpoints this week

In this week’s round-up: Shell workers abducted, MTN converts Nigerian unit into public company, Nigeria and Saudis line up oil partnership.

  • Two Royal Dutch Shell oil workers were kidnapped, and their police escorts killed, in the restive Niger Delta region, police said. The workers were in Rivers State, returning from an official trip to Bayelsa state, when they were attacked. The abductions came just days after kidnappers killed a British woman and a Nigerian man, then abducted three others in the northern city of Kaduna. The woman traveled from Lagos as a tourist and was attending a party before the incident happened, police said. The high profile flashpoints in the Bayelsa and Kaduna meant the security situation in parts of Nigeria made it into headlines globally amid a backdrop of escalating banditry in the northwestern state of Zamfara.
  • South African telecoms firm MTN has converted its Nigerian unit into a public company before its planned listing on the Nigerian bourse in the first half of the year. MTN Nigeria the conversion was a legal requirement to prepare for the listing and it was engaging with the Securities and Exchange Commission and Nigerian Stock Exchange. It follows years of problems and regulatory wranglings in Nigeria, MTN’s biggest market. In December, MTN agreed to make a $53 million payment to resolve a four-month multi-billion dollar dividend repatriation row that hammered its share price. And the telecoms firm is still embroiled in a legal battle with Nigeria’s attorney general over a $2 billion demand for backdated taxes. Africa’s largest telecoms company had 52.3 million users in Nigeria as of 2017, and the country accounts for a third of the company’s annual core profit.
  • Commodity trader Olam International said it will buy Dangote Flour Mills Plc, as it looks to bolster its position in Nigeria’s wheat market. Olam’s Nigerian unit, which holds a 0.1 percent stake in Dangote Flour Mills, will buy the rest of the company for an enterprise value of 130 billion naira ($425 million). The deal expands Olam’s reach in the pasta market in Nigeria, as it looks to cash in on the growing demand of wheat-based products in the region. Olam’s strategy has been to strengthen its portfolio by investing in proven businesses that have achieved market-leading positions.
  • Aside from the Shell abductions, there were several oil-related stories this week. Nigeria and Saudi Arabia plan to draft a memorandum of understanding on an oil and gas partnership that could lead to the construction of a new refinery and investments in liquefied natural gas, Nigeria’s petroleum ministry said. Nigeria imports the bulk of its petrol, despite being Africa’s biggest crude oil producer, due to its dilapidated refineries. Nigeria’s petroleum ministry, in a statement issued days after oil minister Emmanuel Kachikwu held talks with Saudi energy officials, said an early draft of a memorandum of understanding would be ready in the first week of May. “Areas of interest will cover the existing refinery revamp, the building of a brand new refinery, LNG investments and product supply trading in crude and refined products,” the ministry said in the statement. Saudi Aramco is expanding its downstream operations such as refining and petrochemicals production as part of its drive to become the world’s largest integrated energy firm.

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Alexis Akwagyiram

Alexis Akwagyiram

Nigeria bureau chief for Reuters. Ghanaian family, British accent. Ex-BBC, before that newspapers.