By Akpobor Jirue, Abuja
Nigeria’s debt finance manager, the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), has refuted reports making the rounds in the media ( mainstream and online) about the agency’s preparedness to seize Dangote Refinery over an alleged $7 billion debts owed to Nigerian banks.
Several online news platforms had earlier in the week reported that the 650,000 barrels a day Dangote refinery, billed to commence production, next year is already riven with debts.
The reports also claimed that AMCON was set to take over the refinery to recover the debts.
However, the spokesperson of Head of AMCON, Jude Nwauzor, said there is no iota of truth in the report.
He stated that neither Dangote Refinery nor the Dangote Group was on its debtors’ list, hence AMCON couldn’t have planned to take over the assets.
Similarly, The Dangote Group spokesman, Tony Chiejina described the report as “false and malicious”, adding
that the conglomerate has the capacity to service its debt.
But some experts have attributed the rumour to the recent announcement by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to acquire 20% holding in the firm.
The initiative has been seen in some quarters as an indication of financial distress. A financial experts who spoke to our reporter on the condition of anonymity said many people saw the move by NNPC to acquire stake in the Dangote Refinery as an attempt to rescue it from some form of financial crisis.
“Why should NNPC get involved in Dangote Refinery when it has not been able to redeem its own ailing refineries.
“Aliko Dangote, chairman of Dangote Group, owner of the refinery is a friend to government. He is a very smart guy, the rumour making the rounds may not be far from the truth.
“The refinery was initiated with financing from various banks with a production timeline of December 2019 first proposed. But since then the date has continuously been shifted with a new target of 2022 now promised.
“The banks may have smell a rat, there is more to all this than we know for now,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Federal Executive Council, last week Wednesday approved NNPC’s proposal to buy a 20 percent stake in Dangote Refinery at a cost of $2.75 billion.
The refinery, which is an integrated petro-chemical industry is located in the Lekki Free Zone of Lagos.
The fertiliser plant that is part of the expansive project began Production this year.
How the Rumour started
False news about the alleged debt of Dangote Refinery and its imminent take over by AMCON was first published last week by Money Management Series (MMS) Plus newspaper in Lagos.
The publication is owned by Kings Communications Limited.
In the report titled, “AMCON May Take Over Dangote Refinery As Liabilities Swell” it claimed the refinery was in a deep financial crisis as a result of a $7 billion debt burden – “a situation which indicates a possible takeover of the project by AMCON”.
It then claimed its in-house analysts projected that the refinery’s indebtedness to financial institutions would hit $8.4 billion by 2025.