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‘Our success wasn’t the result of one man’s effort’ , Fidson MD

Franklin Alli

Dr. Fidelis Ayebae , the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Fidson Healthcare PLC, tells how he grew the company from an initial capital of N 5 million in 1995 to billions of Naira and to a pharmaceuticals giant, reports Franklin Alli.

MD, Fidson, Dr. Fidelis Ayebae

How did you come about the name Fidson?
When we started, we didn’t know what name to call the company.  My partners however suggested the name Fidson, which is a combination of the first three letters of my name “Fid”Elis and “son” = Fidson. I also have daughters. (Laugh).

How did you start the business, and when?
The story of Fidson is a very significant story. I can’t explain how it all happened.  However, down memory lane, in 1992, I left my paid employment in Citibank as a banker. I decided to become entrepreneurial.

Eventually, I went into property and real estate but I was not satisfied.  Being a restless person, I was not   satisfied, therefore, I decided to go into something new. I can not tell you that I slept and dreamt and God showed me this and that to start the business, no, It was not my idea at all.  One day, a jobless graduate came to me begging that I should please employ him.  I told the young man that I , too, was jobless.  He said that he would think of something we can do together as a joint venture business.

He left and promised to get back to me, and I said Okay.  Months after, he came back with a sparkle in his eyes and blurted “why don’t we go into pharmaceuticals business.”  We did all the talking, and within the spate of two months we registered the company with the Corporate Affairs Commission in February 1993.  In 1995, we started out as Fidson Drugs with focus on local distribution.

However within the first year, our business expanded rapidly prompting us to go into the importation and distribution of some of our brands such as Ciprotab, Feclox, Peflotab and Ferrous Sulphate and the local manufacturing of others .

As a result , the company later re-branded to Fidson Health Ltd and now Fidson Healthcare PLC. My pioneer directors were Ademola Adeniji , who is now the Managing Director of Synergy Healthcare, and others. Since it was not my idea, all I had to do is to give leadership.  We were able to rent a small office where we started.  We put our hearts and souls into it and the whole idea blossomed .

How much capital did you start the business with?
I started Fidson with the little change I had in my pocket, just a little change- Five million naira only. (laughs). Thanks to Access Bank PLC which gave us the seed money about this time ten years ago, and we have repaid the loan.  We are not owing a kobo.

How has the business grown over the years?
As I said earlier I started the business with N 5 million.  Today, Fidson has grown into a mult-ibillion naira business.  From our small base we established our first manufacturing plant in Ota, in 2002, in 2007, we opened our 2nd production line and in the same year we also joined the league of ISO certified companies.

In 2008, we became publicly quoted on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, and in 2009, we diversified into fast moving consumer goods(fcmg).  With the completion of our third factory, we now manufacture paper products- serviettes, diapers, etc. This year, and just last week, we commissioned our multi-million naira world class ultra modern corporate head office. The opening of this 5-star facility is the climax of our 15th year anniversary celebration of being in operations. The seven floors of the contemporary office space provides exquisite ambience that would enhance the productivity of staff.

The five star office accommodation is equipped with a 90-seater state -of -the-art conference and training centre, a functional gymnasium, library facility and creche. I want to say that our achievements over the last 15 years in operation is not the effort of one man.  It’s a team work as everyone including 250 ex – staff who have existed the service of the company contributed one thing or the other to our success story today.

What did you do with the N 3.5 billion you raised recently?
The N 3.5 billion which we raised two years ago through private placements was spent on growing the business to the giant status it has attained today in the pharmaceutical and food sector.  Out of the N 3.5 billion , N 1.5 billion went into Fidson’s products- diapers, serviettes, machinery, etc, N 500 million went into working capital, N 1 billion into the biotech plants which is the anti- retro viral (ARV) factory, N 300 million went into corporate building, and N 200 million was spent on WHO GMP factory upgrading.

Awards
Our consistently high standards fired by our commitment to global best practices won us the prestigious ISO 9001:2000 certification by the International Standards Organisation through the Standards Organisation of Nigeria. Our offices and factories are now rated at a very high international standards. Our commitment is to continue to improve on our offering, all the time.  Fidson was also named winner of Financial Standard(FS) Pharmaceutical sector leader in 2008.

Returns to shareholders?
We ensure competitive return to our shareholders, and earn the admiration of all stakeholders.
Recently, at the 11th annual general meeting, we announced the payment of 22 kobo dividend per share to our growing shareholders.

What are your products range?
We have an enviably wide range of products covering major therapeutic areas such as anti-infective, anti-arthritis, endocrinology, gastro-intestine, anti-retroviral, anti-malaria, cardiovascular, anti_depressant, pain relievers, haematinics, cough expectorants and consumer goods.

Future plans?
We are bracing up to  raise N2 billon-bond from the capital market, and the proceed will be used  to finish work on our biotechnology plants at Ota, Ogun State. The biotech project machine alone costs N800 million, land and building cost N200 million, and also we want to infuse N1 billion working capital. Also, in the next five years, we want to consolidate on what we have achieved.  In the future, we are also thinking of merger and acquisition, collaboration with our current suppliers on fmcg.  We won’t establish new company, rather we want to merge with like minds and acquire whoever is willing to sell be it a local or an international brand.  A few people are already talking to us.


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