Femi Otedola (born November 4, 1962) is a Nigerian businessman, entrepreneur philanthropist, and chairman of Forte Oil PLC, an importer of fuel products. He is also the founder of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, and the owner of a number of other businesses across shipping, real estate and finance. He has recently invested in power generation as part of the liberalisation of the sector in Nigeria.
Otedola was born in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, western Nigeria, into the family of the late Sir Michael Otedola, Governor of Lagos State from 1992 to 1993. In the late 1980s he ran the marketing for his family’s printing press before going on to trade petroleum products
Zenon Petroleum and Gas
In 2003, having identified an opportunity in the fuel retail market, Otedola secured the finance to set up Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, a petroleum products marketing and distribution company.
As owner and chairman of Zenon, in 2004 he invested N15 billion in downstream infrastructure development and acquired storage depots at Ibafon, Apapa as well as four cargo vessels, amounting to a combined total storage capacity of 147,000 metric tonnes. The same year he acquired a fleet of 100 DAF fuel-tanker trucks for N1.4 billion.
By 2005 Zenon controlled a major share of the Nigerian diesel market, supplying fuel to most of the major manufacturers in the country including Dangote Group, Cadbury, Coca-Cola, Nigerian Breweries, MTN, Unilever, Nestle and Guinness.
In March 2007 it was announced that ten banks had approved a syndicated loan of US$1.5 billion (N193.5 billion) to Zenon as working capital to build the largest premium motor spirit storage facility in Africa. Later that year Zenon acquired a 28.7 per cent stake in African Petroleum, one of Nigeria’s largest fuel marketers. Zenon also invested across the financial sector, becoming the largest shareholder in a number of Nigerian banks including Zenith Bank and United Bank for Africa (UBA). As well as diesel, Zenon also became an important player in the kerosene market.
In 2007 Otedola was appointed chairman and chief executive of Africa Petroleum through the acquisition of a controlling stake in the business. In December that year he personally acquired a further 29.3 per cent of the company for N40 billion. A merger of this personal holding with Zenon’s brought Otedola’s total stake to 55.3 per cent.
Following Otedola’s entry into the company African Petroleum’s share price rose sharply, increasing the market capitalisation from N36 billion to N217 billion in six months. In 2008, in response to public concerns over the availability and pricing of kerosene, African Petroleum launched an initiative to saturate the market and sell the fuel at N50 per litre from more than 500 service stations across Nigeria.
In March 2009 Otedola became the second Nigerian after Aliko Dangote to appear on the Forbes list of dollar-denominated billionaires, with an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion. In October 2009 Otedola announced a move to upgrade African Petroleum’s liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage terminals in Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt. Difficult economic conditions caused by the slump in world oil prices and credit squeeze of 2008–09 led African Petroleum to record a loss in 2009.
In December 2010 African Petroleum rebranded, changing its name to Forte Oil PLC.Otedola carried out a restructuring of the business, focusing on technology and improved corporate governance. Forte Oil returned to profit in 2012.
In 2013, as part of the Federal Government’s push to liberalise Nigeria’s ailing power sector, Otedola financed 57% of Forte Oil subsidiary Amperion Ltd, which acquired the 414 MW Geregu Power Plant for $132 million.
Forte’s improved financial position and diversification into power generation resulted in a 1,321 per cent rise in its share price during 2013.The first half of 2014 saw the company’s pre-tax profit more than double year-on-year to 4.19 billion naira ($25.7 million). Revenue growth for the whole year was 33 per cent. In November 2014 Otedola returned to the Forbes rich list having dropped off it following the fall in share price during 2009.
In September 2015 Forte Oil sold 17 per cent of its equity to Swiss commodity trader Mercuria Energy Group, giving Forte access to global commodity markets. The deal was thought to have given Otedola an estimated $200 million.