Femi Otedola is chairman of Forte Oil Plc, one of Nigeria’s major downstream petroleum companies of which he is the majority shareholder. The son of Sir Michael Otedola, former governor of Lagos State, is a new generation force in the boardroom in Nigeria. He entered the scene with a ground breaking energy that even those who had been ruling the stage long before his arrival can still not muster.
Otedola capitalized on the goodwill of his father’s name to launch himself and with great exploits, he quickly turned the table to the extent that his father became the one that needed introduction as Femi’s father. He has carved out for himself a bigger business empire within so short a time than those who were ruling the boardroom before him were able to do in decades.
The rate at which this rising star of just yesterday has established deep roots in Nigerian business and has gone ahead to command great influence in the boardroom is a wonder to many. The wonder man is reckoned as the largest single investor in the Nigerian stock market with large holdings in banks and conglomerates.
The ability to grow at a rate hardly matched by anyone else in the commanding heights of Nigerian business sets him apart as a master business strategist of the new generation. His Forte Oil is the highest priced petroleum marketing company in the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Its price remains in the region attained in the pre-crisis stock market bull from which every other petroleum stock has since fallen and unable to recover till date.
Under Otedola’s leadership, Forte Oil has turned around from a huge loss of N19.53 billion in 2011 to a consistently profitable organization since 2012. With significantly improved corporate governance, Forte Oil is now one of the first companies to release their earnings reports among the entire group of listed companies with regular dividend pay-outs.
The biggest wealth the stock market has built for investors in the post crisis trading has happened in Forte Oil stocks. In 2013, the market moved against a general lull to lift the share price of Forte Oil by 1165% in response to a nearly 400% advance in net profit. The company paid out over 85% of the 2013 profit as cash dividend to shareholders in compensation for five years of dividend holiday.
Otedola is on a mission of making Forte Oil a long-term successful company through strategic investments and acquisitions to expand downstream business and venture into upstream oil and gas operations. Improvement in operational efficiency has resulted in cost moderation and a sustaining gain in profit margin.
Otedola’s launching pad is Zenon Petroleum & Gas Ltd, which is his flagship business enterprise. It came into the scene with a bang that gave it a high operating momentum in the burgeoning petroleum products supplies market. Most industrial concerns in the country depend on Zenon Petroleum & Gas for diesel to power their private generating sets. Whatever strategy he applied to seize the largest market share of diesel supply business from long established oil marketing companies calls for a case study in the school of business strategy.
Otedola now has business interests spanning various sectors of the economy, oil and gas, shipping, power, transportation, telecommunications and real estate. His winning strategy in the petroleum products supply business is the ability to deliver on schedule, which has made him a dependable partner in the business of his clients.
He invested big to build adequate capacity to meet the needs of clients. He has since expanded a 30,000 metric tonne-capacity depot, which is served by his shipping line. He also invested heavily to build a large capacity in products distribution, which empowered him to become a dependable products supplier and consequently the preferred destination of the largest products consumers in Nigeria.