Strides Group, owners of Strides Energy and Maritime Limited (SEML), has acquired the mortgaged assets of the Rivers Vegetable Oil Company Limited (RIVOC).
The multi billion naira deal was signed in Lagos by UBA Capital Trustees on behalf of a consortium of four banks consisting of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), United Bank for Africa (UBA), Zenith and Diamond bank.
Chairman of Strides Group, Mr. Moritz Abazie, said the deal will save 500 direct jobs and return more than 5,000 indirect jobs to Nigerians.
He said with the sales agreement signed, the Fast Moving Consumer Foods (FMCG) manufacturing plant, would commence production in two months’ time.
Abazie described the plant as one of the leading fast moving consumer goods manufacturing facilities in the country, saying the deal would support government’s effort at growing the sector in view of demand for locally manufactured goods.
He explained that the acquisition was part of the company’s growth trajectory and designed to support federal government’s vision of diversifying the Nigerian economy and creating jobs.
“We are leveraging our capital strength, talents and good reputation, to take advantage of identified opportunities in the food and other fast moving consumer goods, manufacturing and distribution sectors,” said Abazie.
“In accordance with this diversification goal, we have acquired the entire production assets of Rivers Vegetable Oil Company Limited in a multi-billion naira transaction, as a fast route to actualizing our market entry strategy,” he explained.
He further explained that RIVOC was the third largest vegetable oil processing company in Nigeria and the single largest producer of crude palm kernel oil and palm kernel extractions until its fortunes suddenly dwindled in 2013.
But he assured that Strides Group would surpass previous feats of the company. “RIVOC provided hundreds of direct and thousands of indirect employment to Nigerians and had become a very formidable corporate entity, with visible and significant contributions to the industrial and economic growth of the country,” said Abazie.
But the fortunes of the company went down in 2013, due to divestment by its major foreign investors fearing economic downturn in Nigeria, which eventually commenced in 2014. This downturn led to loss of over 500 direct and thousands of indirect jobs, this is in addition to the loss of revenue accruing to the government at both the federal and state level”.
He hinted that intervention of Strides Group would restore the lost jobs and create new ones through its expansion programmes, while revenue to the government would be boosted by increased tax contributions arising from expansions and higher capacity utilisation.
Chief Executive Officer of the United Capital Trustees; the trustee of the Consortium, Mrs. Tokunbo Ajayi, expressed delight that an indigenous firm acquired assets of the former State-owned enterprise.
“We are happy an indigenous company like Strides Group took over the plant, we look forward towards a speedy conclusion of the transactions and the speedy revival of the business complex,” she said.