June 9, 2009

Otedola denies share price manipulation

President/CEO of Zenon Petrol and Gas, Mr. Femi Otedola, has denied allegations of share price manipulation by Chevron Oil Plc.

Reacting to an alleged petition forwarded to the House Committee of Capital Market by Chevron Oil Nig Plc, Otedola said the accusation was nothing short of an attempt to divert attention and mislead the public.

Otedola argued that he is the second largest shareholder in Chevron Oil, and that over the years he had acquired shares of the firm on the floor of the market:

“I hold the second largest stake in Chevron Nigeria Plc, as a super minority share holder by every standard.

“How can I manipulate the shares of a company in which I own such stake; I have invested heavily in the company. It is absurd to accuse me of share price manipulation.

“Nigerians are being misled here because Chevron has since vacated the company and handed it to Aliko Dangote and his associates. They took over the company since January in flagrant disobedience of subsisting court orders, stopping the sale or transfer of Chevron’s 60 per cent share equity. They are using the name Chevron Oil Nig Plc to mislead Nigerians.”

“Chevron in actual fact has exited Nigeria’s downstream sector by selling its equity stake in defiance of the court order while MRS Group despite a subsisting court order took over the affairs and management of the company. As a shareholder, I cannot manipulate a company I am a co-owner” he emphasised.

Stating further, Otedola explained that he bought his Chevron shares with different companies and later consolidated them into one account “which is a perfectly legitimate business transaction to do.”

According to Otedola, Chevron has since vacated the country, “what we are seeing is not Chevron’s petitioning, but Dangote and his associates petitioning to cause confusion. I have so far invested over N12 billion in acquiring Chevron shares on the floor of the stock exchange, so it is absurd to accuse me of manipulating my company. What I accused Aliko Dangote of is the manipulation of AP Shares to force down the value of the company using Nova Securities and Finance.  He bought fifty (50) thousand units and was crossing 50,000 units daily from Aliko Dangote to Aliko Dangote. He did not spend money buying the shares like I did with several of my companies. By doing what Dangote did, he short-changed the Nigerian Stock Exchange, reduced the market capitalisation of the exchange and contributed to the decline in the value of the All Share Index.”

The allegation of manipulating Chevron shares first surfaced in a paid advertorials by a certain Muktar Muktar ‘with close links to Alhaji Aliko Dangote’ on Wednesday April 29 in the Nation newspaper and Thursday April 30 in Bussinessday.

It is worthy to note that the Central Security Clearing System (CSCS) has disowned the supposed print out of Chevron’s share price manipulation by Femi Otedola with a strong warning to people who toy with the integrity of the capital market. It pointedly declared that the advertorials did not contain its Clearing House Numbers, nor other security features of CSCS Ltd systems generated statements.

Highlighting that, the print-outs published by Muktar contained some data fields that are alien to CSCS – Update Advice to Registrars, such as Registrars Account number and transaction type narration.