By Emeka Anaeto, Business Editor

There are indications that Heirs Holdings, HH, group, Africa’s leading enterprise powerhouse, is set for more ground-breaking feats after a long list of record achievements in its first decade in operation.

The HH Group and Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) were created in 2010 by Mr Tony Elumelu to drive private investment and champion entrepreneurship across Africa.


Recently, the group celebrated its 12th anniversary with a reminiscence of its achievements in the first decade while looking forward to a greater second decade.


Hinting of a greater future, the Group Chairman, Tony Elumelu, said, “As we are now well into our second decade, and as I look forward in our journey into the future, I am more encouraged, to be even more audacious and bolder than we ever were, because of you, our HH People.


“We must not relent in our vision to improve lives and transform the African continent through living our philosophy of Africapitalism and our commitment to long-term investment and sustainable businesses.”


He had described the anniversary season as “a moment to look back and to look forward; to celebrate, to take stock, to learn and redouble.”


Assessing the foundational years of the Group, Elumelu said “Almost everything we wanted to accomplish in our first ten years, we have accomplished.”


The story of HH Group is that of accomplishing dreams, staying faithful to the vision and working for results.


On these counts Elumelu stated: “Anyone can dream – execution, institutionalisation, patience, persistence, these are the hallmarks of our achievement, our success separates us from many. We appreciate luck, but we create opportunity, and opportunity that leads to results, milestones, value – tangible and intangible.”


He commended all subsidiary and investee companies associated with Heirs Holdings, for making HH’s vision a reality, adding, “without them, we would not have been able to accomplish what we have achieved.”


Giving further insight into the successes in the HH Group, Elumelu explains: “In the beginning, we had shared visions, for business and for Africa. In business we have done well, but more important is the impact we are making every day in Nigeria, and Africa, as well as our growing influence across the globe.”


He also shared some insight into the entrepreneurship development activites of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, TEF, saying, “TEF is transforming lives and giving hope. When I listen to our young African men and women tell how their lives have improved as a result of the work of the Foundation, I feel even prouder of HH People and how we are collectively transforming Africa.


“Nothing gives me greater happiness, greater excitement, and a greater sense of fulfilment than seeing the faces of these young men and women, from our continent, that have been enabled and empowered.”

The Footprints

About a decade ago, Heirs Holdings made its first strategic investment move acquiring a controlling stake in Transcorp, Nigeria’s largest listed conglomerate. Transcorp, which, despite an attractive portfolio spanning the Nigerian economy, including the iconic Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja, and a loyal shareholder base of over 300,000, had serially underperformed.

But with HH’s operational skills and turn around expertise, Transcorp has now blossomed as a platform to execute investments in energy, hospitality, and agriculture.
Around same period, HH Group and TEF made their first joint impact investment outside Nigeria – Mtanga Farms in Tanzania, a business developing innovative approaches to increasing African agricultural yields.


This also marked the advent of “Africapitalism”, Tony Elumelu’s continental entrepreneurship mantra, in his belief that Africa’s private sector can and must play a leading role in the continent’s development, seeking both economic and social returns.
HH group made further acquisitions in the real estate and financial sectors: Afriland Properties Plc, a property management, investment and development company; United Capital Plc, a financial and investment services group; and Africa Prudential Registrar Plc, a leading share registration service provider.


Meanwhile, the Transcorp Group under the HH Group continued to expand, creating subsidiaries in several sectors of the economy. In the power sector, Transcorp Ughelli Power was named as the preferred bidder for Ughelli Power Plc, the largest electric power plant in Nigeria, under the privatisation programme of the Federal Government of Nigeria.


Further in the power sector, Heirs Holdings committed US$2.5billion, as the single largest private sector investor in President Obama’s Power Africa initiative. The innovative partnership ambition is to add 30,000MW of new electricity generation capacity, to increase electricity access by at least 60 million new connections in sub-Saharan Africa.
Also Transcorp Hotels acquired the Metropolitan Hotels and Conferencing Limited, owners of the oldest hotel in Calabar, the Metropolitan Hotel Calabar. The hotel is renamed Transcorp Hotels Calabar.


In the energy sector, Heirs Holdings acquired 51% of Seadrill Nigeria Limited, a deep-water drilling contractor for the petroleum industry, furthering the strategic intent of identifying opportunities across the oil and gas value chain.


A further footprint in the upstream oil and gas sector was made with its subsidiary, Tenoil, which successfully drilled its first oil well about seven years ago, confirming significant amounts of commercial hydrocarbons.


Deepening its foothold in the oil and gas sector, HH successfully acquired OML17 from Shell, TOTAL and ENI in the largest oil and gas transaction in Africa for the year 2020. OML 17 has a 2P gross reserve of 1.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent. The acquisition further fulfils HH’s strategy of investing across the resource value chain, creating integration and value creation on the African continent. The transaction represents a further significant step in HH’s ambition to create Africa’s largest integrated energy company.

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Earlier in the middle of its first decade of operation, Heirs Holdings co-founded AFEX Commodities Exchange in partnership with Nicolas Berggruen’s, Berggruen Holdings, with the objective of bringing commodity value creation and deeper financial markets to the African continent.


Eventually, the AFEX Commodities Exchange began to expand partnering with the Rwandan government to launch the first commodity Exchange in Rwanda – EAX (East Africa Exchange), bringing commodity transactions closer to producers.


Illustrating its global ambitions, Heirs Holdings invested in Planet Labs, a Silicon-Valley based, earth imaging company.


In the healthcare sector, Heirs Holdings founded Avon Healthcare Limited (Avon HMO), a healthcare management organisation, to rapidly expand the provision of high-quality medical services to a much broader demographic.


Avon Medical Practice has since expanded hospital operations to many more states in Nigeria.


In the capital market, HH remains a major player. It has invested in and became the second largest shareholder in NASD OTC, creating an over-the-counter trading facility, to act as a platform for small company growth.


Meanwhile, Africa Prudential had acquired UAC Registrars Limited, the largest conglomerate registrar in Nigeria.


Also, in a landmark transaction, United Capital raises $250 million fresh capital for Orion Group in one of the largest syndicated transactions structured by an African investment banking institution in 2015.


United Capital led a N9 Billion Bond Issuance for Forte Oil Plc; the first bond issued by an entity in the Nigerian downstream oil and gas sector.


In the insurance sector, the Group’s subsidiaries are also making waves. Over two years ago, Heirs Insurance Limited and Heirs Life Assurance Limited, HH’s vehicles to revolutionise the Nigerian insurance sector were authorised, following six years of regulatory process – a testament to HHs resilience.

The TEF landmarks
The Tony Elumelu Foundation, TEF, had empowered several tech businesses with US $100,000 seed funding through Nigerian accelerator, CCHub Nigeria. The Foundation also launched the ‘Blair-Elumelu Governance Initiative’, in partnership with the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), a dedicated programme of skill building for senior civil servants, focusing on adopting private sector approaches to deliver for the public good.


The Foundation also runs a flagship Entrepreneurship Programme committing US $100 million to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs over 10 years, across 54 African countries. The Programme has empowered over 9,000 entrepreneurs across Africa.


The Foundation has partnered with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to empower 200 entrepreneurs from Nigeria’s North East and Niger Delta communities.


TEF has also partnered with Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the German Government’s Agency for International Cooperation, to empower 210 young African entrepreneurs, focusing specifically on female entrepreneurs and tech-enabled businesses.


The Foundation had entered into a US $5million partnership agreement with the African Development Bank, to empower 1,000 young entrepreneurs in Africa with training, mentorship and funding.


Meanwhile, The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has signed a ground-breaking partnership with the TEF in Niamey, Niger to empower 100,000 additional entrepreneurs in rural, underserved communities across the continent over 10 years.

Deserving honors

For these and many more landmark achievements, both HH Group and the subsidiaries as well as the TEF have been honoured with several national and international awards over the past 10 years.


Moreover, Heirs Holdings Chairman, Tony O. Elumelu, received the National Productivity Order of Merit Award (NPOM), the highest recognition of merit in Nigeria.


TIME has named Tony O. Elumelu, in the 2020 TIME100, the annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Mr Elumelu was recognised for his track record of business turnaround and value creation, and economic empowerment of young Africans.

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