As UAE Confers Investors Status On Him
To Set Up Investment Bank In HONG KONG
Explains His Global Initiatives
Billionaire businessman, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim, who has just completed 2 masters degrees from Oxford and Cambridge Universities has decided to globalize his business. He has decided to set up an investment bank in Hong Kong to open up business opportunities in the Asian market. He paid about $47 million to acquire the bank licence to operate it. That brings the number of banks in the group to 3 with one in Ghana and another in Sao Tome. He is about to open a Savings and Loan bank in Ghana. He has also opened a new corporate office in Dubai to oversee his overseas operations. With his level of investment in Dubai he has been given the status of an Investor. In Dubai, he owns a 5 star hotel and a few commercial properties. He is also big in the real estate business of Dubai. He also owns a lovely mansion in an exclusive area of Dubai where all their super rich citizens live.
React that for the past 2 years he has been spending more time in London where he did 2 post graduate courses and he made a distinction in one. With the successful completion of this very expensive CEO programme, Jimoh Ibrahim’s worldview has changed drastically. He has become emboldened to globarise his business. He believes that with his knowledge of global project management it was high time he stepped up his game. He will be travelling with about 200 friends and family members in mid May for his graduation at Oxford, and after spending 3 days they will proceed to Dubai for his office opening.
Though, he turned 50 about 4 weeks ago he could not celebrate it because that was the period he was writing his final papers at Oxford University. He plans to celebrate it big in April. To mark his golden age, he ordered for a N300 million Rolls Royce Phantom from Coscharis Motors with personalized number plate JI CFR. That is his 2nd Roll Royce. His first Rolls Royce is in his house in London. He also owns a private jet he bought brand new about 8 years ago. He plans to upgrade his plane by selling this Bombardier jet and buy the new A3-30 aircraft to enable him keep tab on his businesses across the world.
In Ghana, he owns Energy Bank, which is one of the top 10 banks in the country. In Sao Tome, he owns the biggest commercial bank there and Insurance company. In Hong Kong, his new investment bank will take off towards the end of the year. He has his eyes ultimately on China.
Two Sundays ago, City People Publisher, Seye Kehinde spent an evening with this successful businessman who presides over the running of 3 banks, 2 Insurance companies, 1 Re-insurance company, a chain of hotels in Lagos and Abuja and an Oil Company that owns 210 filling stations, amongst several other businesses that include properties and real estate across several countries. Now, he owns 4 houses in different countries of the world. Why is he looking outside Nigeria for investments? He told City People why.
Let me congratulate you on the opening of your new corporate office in Dubai and your floating of a bank in Hong Kong. What is the significance of these moves in terms of the operations of your group?
Let me start by saying one of the reasons why Nigerians companies die is because they don’t globalize. As entrepreneur, you get to a level in our business that requires you to globalize your investment this will allow you to access both the output and the input market. Globalization of business it is of great and vantage to Nigeria. One, the business will be earning foreign exchange which in return you bring back to the country. That will reduce pressure on peoples demand from government source of dollars. The investment image will be better for our lovely country,
Globalization is very important for many reasons. In Strategy class, we say local market is saturated; economies of scale are of advantage, international trade will continue to happen. Barrier to trade is deed and that the world is flat. This is very significant to business growth. If you don’t globalize, you will be a dominant player in the local market. The local market faces a lot of challenges. Globalization provides opportunities to access resources to the advantage of even the local operations. We have been here for 25 years it’s time for us to globalize. We see globalized companies too coming to Nigeria; we will be at disadvantage if they access our resources and we don’t go to their county to take theirs; Nigerian companies should also go to all the countries. So, we have decided to expand to abroad some areas in the continent of the world. We are in Africa (our dominant market). We are in Ghana, Sao Tome, Dubai, Europe, and London. Now we are looking at the Arab nations. So, we are in Dubai. It will be very severe for any entrepreneur to ignore China. We need to penetrate that market. A bank in Hong Kong will make us to access China. Someone asked me a stupid question last year that why should your company keep money in Ghana I asked him why should Chevron keep bring America dollar to Nigeria! He said sorry. We need to educate people on opportunities presented by globalization.
What will your Dubai office be doing?
There have 2 departments that we set up in Dubai. The first department is to overlook our existing companies in Nigeria, Ghana, Sao Tome and London. They are to diagnose each of those companies, and find out what the problems have been and then resolve them. There are people overlooking these companies. For instance, they will take our hotel business in Nigeria, diagnose it. Where are we? Are we No.1? If not what are the things we can do? Somebody is in charge of that. Somebody is in charge of IT. They are to look at our 17 systems. We want to bring our Nigerian companies to international standard and make them to earn more revenue. Our Dubai office will be a Wider Lenses office to look into our existing companies properly. Significantly, the 2nd part of Dubai office is a platform office for Major Programme in Africa. It is the first of its kind in the world. So, we are simply providing a platform for African governments to access funds to develop major programmes. It is going to be a platform for African government to be able to access those funds for Major Programmes.
Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is a major programme. You can imagine the design of the road, the complexities. Abuja Expressway is a major programme. That contract was awarded for $1.5 billion with cost overrun of about 100%. We no longer call such contract a Project but a programme. The Programme was completed with about $3.1 billion. In a developing country we have programmes that is the most expensive in the world. How do you bring cost down? And if you are going to do that kind of road again, what will be the design? What will the design look like?
Those are the things that Major Programmes talk about. –the design of the road, not having the gutter in the middle of the road. That is not a good design. And how does the Nigerian government access funds to refinance that road? You have spent $3 billion on one road. You need to refinance it and get the $3 billion back to spend on another road for 30 years. Those are the kinds of opportunities that my office gives. That is the new area. The other area my colleagues are sited is to look at and examine our existing companies and within 6 months solve all their problems. If they are undercapitalized capitalize them. If there are managements issues resolve it.
QUOTE: “One of the reasons why Nigerians companies die is because they don’t globarise”
We are going to grow by observing Corporate Governance; I am going to resign my appointment from the Board of some of the companies by June, Appoint independent directors. We would have management that has nothing to do with me but the board. That is one side of our office in Dubai. The other side is the one handling the major programmes, and of course the engagement of the Hong Kong office