Billionaire Femi Otedola’s Zenon petroleum drags firm to court over a $6-million debt

Zenon Petroleum & Gas Limited, an oil marketing company founded by Nigerian billionaire Femi Otedola, has filed a winding-up petition against Prudent Energy and Services Limited, the majority shareholder in Ardova Plc, over a $6-million debt.

According to Billionaire Africa, the move comes three years after the Otedola-led oil company finalized the sale of a 74.02-percent majority equity stake in one of its petroleum marketing subsidiaries, Forbes Oil (now Ardova), to Prudent Energy and Services Limited, an oil firm owned by Nigerian energy mogul Abdulwasiu Sowami. The purchase agreement was signed in 2019 and valued at $200 million.

Zenon Petroleum filed the winding-up petition against Prudent Energy with the Federal High Court in Lagos, alleging that the Sowami-led company was unable to pay a $6-million debt that represented the remaining purchase consideration for the stake in Forte Oil.

“The debt is alleged to have arisen from a 2018 sale in which Zenon Petroleum & Gas Limited and its affiliates sold 74.02 percent of Forte Oil Plc’s issued share capital to Abdul Wasiu Sowami and Ignite Investment and Commodities Limited,” Zenon Petroleum stated in a court document, offering more information on the nature of the debt.

Zenon Petroleum, which has a guarantee for the prompt payment of the debt, served Prudent Energy with the winding-up petition more than a month after the deferred consideration, which was due on June 18, had yet to be paid despite demand letters sent to Sowami.

The winding-up petition adds to the pressures on Ardova and its majority owner, as shares in the company have dropped significantly from an average price of N23.6 ($0.055) per share in 2019 to N13 ($0.0305) per share at the time of writing this report.

Ardova reported a loss of N3.8 billion ($8.93 million) for the 2021 fiscal year, its first since being acquired by Prudent Energy.

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