Did You Know? Nigeria’s Biggest Business Deals So Far in 2019

Nigeria’s big businesses are sealing deals, and frontline
startups are snapping up millions in big-time funding rounds. It’s the story of
half a year in an economy’s life.

Despite concerns that the country’s commerce and industry stands on wobbly foundations, investments continue to happen. Analysts say we should be cautious about the numbers; after all, some of the said business deals may be more rescue mission than anything else. Still, there’s some ground for optimism and hope that enterprise could help Nigeria out of its difficulties.

Here’s a roundup of the biggest business deals that made the headlines in the first six months of 2019.

This kicked off late in 2018, after months of speculation around a possible takeover of Diamond Bank by Access Bank. The deal saw Diamond Bank’s assets subsumed into the existing Access Bank network, and the latter institution tweaking its logo to reflect something of its merger partner’s ethos.

The deal is reported to have been worth about $200 million.

Late in January, news broke that Airtel Africa was raising $200 million from Qatar Investment Authority. The funding was said to be needed to reduce the debts of the telecoms company’s London-based holding company. The equity investment has cut the portion of shares held by the company in Africa. Nigeria is Airtel’s largest market on the African continent.

Also in January, tech outsourcing startup Andela announced
that it had raised
$100 million in its series D funding round. It’s the largest ever amount
raised by an African tech startup. The investors included Al-Gore’s Generation
Investment Management, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Google Ventures, GRE
Ventures, and Spark Capital.

In March, Lafarge Africa, building materials giant, said that it had succeeded in raising new capital through its rights issue. The sum realized was reported to be about ₦89.9 billion. The company says the fresh capital will be channeled towards strengthening its operations in Nigeria.

Earlier this year, global credit card giant Mastercard
pledged to stake $56 million on Jumia, Africa’s
first ecommerce unicorn. This was made known in the run-up to Jumia’s
listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in April.

Also this year, oil and gas company Oando divested its 25%
stake in Axxela, a gas and power portfolio company. The stake was sold to
Helios Towers, a telecoms tower infrastructure firm, for about $41 million. Oando’s
hierarchy explained that the sale was informed by the company’s need to reduce
its debt profile.

In an announcement that surprised many, Olam, an agro-industry
company, said in April that it was set to acquire Dangote Flour Mill for about
$361 million. Olam seems to have its sights on DFM’s lucrative flour and pasta
products and is eager to make those segments even more profitable. More
recently, a revised bidding offer has been submitted by Olam for the buy over
of Dangote’s flour mill business.

Telecoms giant MTN listed its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in May, sparking excitement within and outside of stock trading circles. The initial listing of 20 billion ordinary shares at ₦90 per share meant that MTN kicked off on the bourse with a market capitalization of ₦1.8 trillion. Currently, it’s the second-largest company on the NSE, just behind Dangote Cement.