Sahara Group, a Nigerian energy company, which trades crude oil and owns Nigeria’s biggest power plant, has said it plans to raise as much as $1.4 billion through a dual listing of its oil and gas unit in London Stock Exchange and Nigerian Stock Exchange along with a debut dollar bond sale.

Executive Director of the company, Tonye Cole, said in a statement that the company wants the money to buy oil blocs in Africa’s largest producer as it seeks to ramp up production five-fold to 60,000 barrels a day.

He said Sahara is seeking as much as $600 million in the initial public offering, which may take place within a year, and $800 million through a seven-year bond that should be issued by the end of October.

“Over the next five years, our target is to be one of the largest indigenous producers in Nigeria,” Cole, 48, who owns a third of Sahara, said in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Lagos. “A lot is dependent on the IPO. We started down that road before oil prices collapsed, but we’re still focused on it.”

Sahara and others including Seplat Petroleum Development Co. and Shoreline Group, are taking advantage of so-called indigenisation laws in Nigeria’s oil industry that are meant to boost production by local companies. Those groups account for about 20 percent of Nigeria’s production of nearly two million barrels a day.

Seplat, which pumps about 70,000 barrels daily, became the first Nigerian company to sell its shares in London and Lagos when it completed listings in April, 2014. The stock has fallen 69 percent in London in the past year as crude prices more than halved, giving the company a market capitalisation of 409 million pounds ($624 million).

“We’re looking to raise somewhere between $500 million to $600 million for about 20 to 25 percent of the shares,” Cole said, which would value the unit at between $2 billion and $3 billion.

Cole said Sahara would meet investors in Europe and the U.S. in the next few weeks to discuss the deals, but did not identify the banks working on the IPO or Eurobond sale.

According to the report, companies from Africa’s biggest economy are increasingly looking to sell stock in the U.K. noting that Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, wants to list his main company, Dangote Cement Plc, which already trades in Lagos and London.

It also noted that Interswitch Limited, which processes bank transactions and owns a brand of debit cards, is also considering a dual listing.

Cole said beyond oil and gas production, Sahara, which makes revenue of about $10 billion annually, is expanding its trading and power divisions, adding that it plans to double generation at the Egbin power plant in Lagos to 2,600 megawatts within five years.

He said Sahara needs to recoup its debts from the government-owned bulk buyer of electricity before that happens.


Source : Independent