–CNBC AfricaThis is a true life story of Nigerian billionaire Femi Otedola on the day he lost everything.
Life was rosy for Femi Otedola until it took a sudden turn leaving him billions in the red. He had to start all over again.
In 2008, a shipment containing one million tons of diesel set sail, heading for the shores of Nigeria. The owner of the vessel, Femi Otedola, Chairman of Forte Oil, a petroleum and power generation company, had grown the company to one of the largest in Nigeria, with over 500 filling stations, according to Forbes. The growth had been rapid and profits were at an all-time high. Then disaster struck.
“I had about 93 percent of the diesel market on my fingertips. All of a sudden oil prices collapsed and I had over one million tons of diesel on the high seas and the price dropped from $146 to $34” —Femi Otedola.
That was only the beginning of his problems. The naira was subsequently devalued and interest began to skyrocket. When the dust settled, Otedola had lost over $480 million due to the plunge in oil prices, $258 million through the devaluation of the naira, a further $320 million due to accruing interest and then finally $160 million when the stocks crashed.
“I had two options, either to commit suicide or to weather the storm. I decided to weather the storm. I just knew it was a phase I had to go through.
You see God prepares you for greater things and of course experience is the best teacher so I had to learn my lessons. I took the bitter pill”. — Femi Otedola
Otedola was now $1.2 billion in debt. He sought solace in the only thing that had set him on the path to discovering oil, destiny.
“You cannot compete with destiny, so it was my destiny to make billions every month and lose billions as well. I said to myself ‘I was not going to have friends and enemies, I was only going to have competitors.”
At the age of six, Otedola had already discovered his knack for business. He would provide manicure and pedicure services to his father and his friends and write them a receipt for payment.
On his birthday, while all his friends wanted toys, Femi Otedola would ask his father for a briefcase instead. His father, Sir. Michael Otedola, as a former Governor of Lagos State, was a well respected man. But now, his son’s public fall threatened to destroy that name.
“After I lost the money, something that struck me was that my father had always been my role model in life and the first thing I had to do was to protect his name. He had a policy; honesty was the best policy, so I had to protect that name and his integrity.”
Just after the global banking crisis had struck, the Nigerian government established the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to buy up distressed loans. Otedola’s loan was sold to AMCON, by the bank he blamed for his challenges.
“Experience is the best teacher. I didn’t have a proper structure and I also put the blame on the banks for not advising me. All they were interested in was the profits. They were not interested in sustainability of the business, they were short-sighted and all they were interested in was throwing money at me. So they never advised me,” — Femi Otedola.
The banks had to shave off about $400 million from the debt leaving Otedola $800 million in the red. AMCON offered him a restructuring deal, which Otedola declined. He opted instead to repay what he owed and start all over again.
“So we got a reputable firm to value my assets. I had about 184 flats, which I gave up. I was the largest investor in the Nigerian banking sector, which I gave up, I was also a major shareholder of Africa Finance Corporation and I was the Chairman of Transcorp Hilton. I was a shareholder in Mobil Oil Nigeria Limited, the second largest shareholder in Chevron Texaco, Visafone and several companies which they valued, and I had to give up to repay the debt.”
Femi Otedola was left with just two properties, his office space and a 34-percent stake in African Petroleum, which he rebranded, to Forte Oil in 2010.
In 2014, Otedola bounced back to reclaim his place on the FORBES rich list and currently has a net worth of $1.8 billion, according to the FORBES wealth unit.
These days, he is much wiser; there are systems in place to prevent a similar collapse of his mammoth business empire.
According to the mogul, the day he lost everything was the day he learned his biggest lesson.
It taught him that he could overcome anything.
The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
If I fall, I’ll fall five feet four inches forward in the fight for freedom. I’m not backing off. ― Fannie Lou Hamer
“When you fall down, rise up. When you fall again, rise up again. This is just a developmental process that makes a healthy baby become a successful man.” ― Israelmore Ayivor
Nigeria’s Former Jonathan Tells African Leaders To Put Humanity First
Joke Falaju, Abuja Bags African Heritage awardFormer President Goodluck Jonathan has urged African leaders privilege to hold public offices to become servants of the people, and not turn themselves into the “bosses of the people”.Jonathan stated this while receiving the African Democracy and Peace Icon…
7th Edition Connected Banking Summit East Africa – Innovation & Excellence Awards 2023 Concludes
POSTED ON MARCH 28, 2023 BY AFRICA BUSINESS The Summit brought together the best and brightest minds in the banking, financial services, fintechs and techfin sectors. The event, which took place on 7th March 2023, featured insightful speakers, award-winning companies, and top-notch sponsors. Attendees were treated to a range…
2020 Awards | Social Media For Social Good Award Announces 100 Micro & Macro Social Media Influencers For Good
Social Media For Social Good Award Announces 100 Micro & Macro Social Media Influencers For Good and Set To Award 25 Of Them On The 13th Of June 2020. The most anticipated list of Nigerians using social media for social good which is curated by…
Ergonomic Furniture Dealer Formfunc Studio Awarded SA’s First 6-Star Green Star Award
-African Independent The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) has awarded Cape Town-based Formfunc Studio, a leading ergonomic furniture supplier, a 6-star Green Star rating following the recent fit-out of their office, showroom and DC in Johannesburg. The project, led by specialist sustainability and…
The Risk And Reward Of ChatGPT In Cybersecurity
Juan is an experienced CTO with a demonstrated history of working in the computer and network security industry. He is an information technology professional skilled in SAP and Oracle applications, computer forensics, vulnerabilities research, IPS/IDS and information security. Unless you’ve been on a retreat in…
Explained – History Of Money From Fiat To Crypto
What is money? Money as a concept has been a cornerstone of human civilization and economic development. To start with the latter, money is a method of storing value and worth, and it also functions as a medium of exchange that allows individuals to exchange…
Studies Show That Nigerian Crypto Foreign Investment Is At A Record Low
Foreign direct investment in Nigeria fell by 33% last year due to a severe shortage of dollars, which discouraged crypto companies from expanding into the country. The largest economy in Africa has a foreign investment problem despite exponential growth in crypto adoption. The National Bureau…
Growing The Bitcoin Development Ecosystem In Africa
– Abubakar Nur Khalil | Bitcoin Magazine Bitcoin development in Africa, with a proper regulatory environment, could equally accelerate the continent and the technology. In this piece, we’ll be analyzing the current state of the Bitcoin developer ecosystem in Africa, ways to improve it and…