By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA
One of Nigeria’s largest conglomerates, Transnational Corporation Plc (Transcorp Group), has extended its tentacles in the nation’s electricity industry with the acquisition of 60 percent stake in the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC).
The Tony Elumelu-led Transcorp Group had last week set the power industry buzzing when it formally announced the acquisition of majority shares in AEDC.
Prior to the announcement, Transcorp had secured approval as the strategic investor in AEDC in May 2023, about two and half years after a financial institution controlled by Elumelu, the United Bank of Africa (UBA), took over AEDC over the inability of its major stakeholder, Kann Consortium, to service the $122 million debt loan used to acquire a 60 percent stake in the disco. The bank subsequently announced its intention to sell the company to recover the $122 million debt.
Barely a month after, the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) approved the Transcorp-led consortium as the preferred bidder for AEDC.
Last week’s announcement of Transcorp Group as the new majority shareholder in AEDC brought to an end a high wire scheming and jostling for the control of the electricity distribution company.
In a bold move to protect its interests in AEDC, the conglomerate promptly announced the appointment of Christopher Ezeafulukwe, the current MD/CEO of Transcorp Power Ltd, Ughelli, as the new managing director/chief executive officer of AEDC.
In a press statement by the company seen by BH, Transcorp said Ezeafulukwe will play a pivotal role in rejuvenating AEDC for it to distribute electricity across an area of 133,000 km2 in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Niger, Kogi and Nassarawa States.
“Prior to his appointment as the MD/CEO of AEDC, Ezeafulukwe was the MD/CEO of Transcorp Power Ltd, Ughelli, a 972-MW thermal plant.
“Under his leadership, Transcorp Power Ltd has consistently led the Nigerian power sector, being the first successor power company from the 2013 power privatization program to be discharged from post-privatisation monitoring by the National Council on Privatization, having surpassed the expectations of the council.
“The Ughelli Power plant, which Transcorp Group acquired during the privatisation of the power sector in 2013, demonstrates the group’s transformative prowess.
“The plant’s available capacity, which stood at 160MW on acquisition, increased by 227% to 680.83MW in four years, surpassing the Bureau of Public Enterprise’s (BPE) five-year target of 670MW”, a statement by the company stated.
Meanwhile, the CEO of Transcorp Energy, Mr. Peter Ikenga, will move the other way to succeed Ezeafulukwe as MD of Transcorp Power.
With AEDC’s acquisition, Transcorp Power Limited, a subsidiary of Transcorp Group became the largest player in the power industry with huge investments in the generation and distribution ends.
Incorporated on November 16, 2004 as a conglomerate fashioned after the South Korean Chaebol Conglomerates to do business in Nigeria, Transcorp entered the murky electricity power business on September 25, 2012, when it won the $300 million bid for one of the six power generation companies of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) being privatised by the Federal Government, the Ughelli Power Plant located in Delta State with an installed capacity of 1000MW.
However, Transcorp experienced several bottlenecks and challenges that would have broken mere mortals.
Apart from not taking possession of the facility until November 1, 2013, one full year after paying for it, Transcorp Ughelli Power Limited also inherited a plant producing only 330MW of electricity, a far cry from the 1,000 megawatts installed capacity it paid for.
Despite initial hiccups, Transcorp Group’s subsidiary, Transcorp Ughelli Power Limited (TUPL), currently generates 972 MW from the Ughelli Thermal Plant, second only to Egbin Thermal Plant in Lagos l, which generates about 1,320 megawatts.
With the recent acquisition of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company alongside the Ughelli Thermal Plant, Transcorp has now emerged the undisputed biggest player in the nation’s electricity sector.
Energy experts, who spoke to Business Hallmark on the deal maintained that the deal suggests that the conglomerate is ready to be a dominant player in the burgeoning electricity market.
“Recent acquisitions and maneuvering by Tony Elumelu, the brainchild behind Transcorp Group, indicate that the company is actively seeking to play a dominant role in the nation’s electricity sector.
“The company has made a statement with its huge investments in the downstream energy, electricity generation and now electricity distribution sectors.
“It (Transcorp) without doubt is now the largest player in the nation’s electricity sector with its latest foray into electricity distribution business, after its initial investments in power generation assets”, declared Engr. Seyi Olowo, the Chief Executive Officer of Vander Energy Group.
Apart from the electricity generation and distribution businesses, Transcorp also has its beak buried deep in the oil and gas business, hotel and hospitality, as well as agribusiness.
In May 2006, Transcorp had acquired two oil blocs, OPL 281 and OPL 281. The company partnered with Equity Energy Resources (EER) and SAC-Oil Holdings of South Africa to serve as technical partners.
It hotel arm, Transcorp Hotels, also has many hotels in its kitty, including the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, Transcorp Hotel, Calabar, Cross River State and Rumens Apartments, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The company is also playing strong in the agribusiness sector. For instance, it is currently managing the Benfruits Juice Concentrate Plant in Benue State after signing a lease agreement with the Benue State Government.
Transcorp Group is also the manager of Teragro Commodities Limited, the agribusiness firm owned by the Benue State government.
On January 30, 2013, Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc and General Electric (GE) of America signed a framework agreement to collaborate in addressing the infrastructural needs of Nigeria, with emphasis on the power and transportation sectors, specifically rail transportation.
General Electric is a global leader in the design, manufacture, supply, installation and maintenance of technology and services for the power sector.