Aviation: AMCON confirms 60 per cent stake in Aero

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria has confirmed the ownership of 60 per cent stake in Aerocontractors airline, The PUNCH can authoritatively report.

Aerocontractors’ indebtedness to commercial banks, estimated to be over N32bn, which had been bought over by AMCON during the banking sector reforms, had been converted to equity stake for the corporation, it was learnt.

The Managing Director, AMCON, Mr. Mustafa Chike-Obi, in an exclusive interview with our correspondent on Wednesday, confirmed that the corporation had acquired 60 per cent stake in the airline.

Aerocontractors had in a statement last week said AMCON held controlling stake in it but did not give the specific shareholding of the corporation in the company.

However, Chike-Obi told our correspondent that AMCON owned 60 per cent in the company and would be ready to sell the stake to a competent buyer.

He said, “AMCON owns 60 per cent stake in Aero. If somebody wants to buy our 60 per cent stake in Aero tomorrow at a profit; absolutely, we will consider it. We are not emotional about it.

“I told you we want to make sure that we get our money back and also make sure that whoever runs Aero runs it in a profitable and well-regulated manner. So, once those things are satisfied, we are happy to sell it.”

Asked if AMCON was planning to merge Aero with other debtor airlines, Chike-Obi said, “There are two major airlines in Nigeria today: Aerocontractors and Arik Airlines. Both of them have benefited from AMCON intervention. There are many other smaller airlines that we have relationship with. We will recover our money but we also want  to make sure that the Nigerian public continues to be served by well run, well regulated and well maintained airlines. And that is our intention, be it Arik or Aero.

“Everything is on the table that will make the airline industry more efficient, more profitable and allow us to get our money back. If a merger makes sense, we will consider it; if it does not make sense, then we will not. Our objective is to make the airline industry safer and more profitable.”

Prior to the development, Aero was 100 per cent owned by the Ibru family, which acquired full stake in the airline about three years ago after its Canadian partner, CHC, pulled out its equity.

Chike-Obi also vowed that the corporation would recover its N65bn from Capital Oil at all cost.

He, however, said the corporation would vacate Capital Oil’s facility in Lagos for the purpose of “public interest.”

He said, “Capital Oil is particularly a difficult case. We have tried for two years to talk with the owner. He has made a number of agreements and he has defaulted on every one of them. But we are a law abiding institution. Even though legally we can still stay in the facility until the appeal is heard, we have decided to withdraw from Capital Oil’s facility.

“There was a pipeline explosion yesterday (Monday). We don’t want to be associated in any way with hardship of the Nigerian people during the holiday season. Even though we don’t believe that Capital Oil is essential to supply us fuel in Nigeria, we will not stand in the way and we are withdrawing from the facility as from tomorrow.”

“However, we will continue to pursue every step to make sure we recover our money. He owes us N65bn. We will not stand by and let that money go to waste. We will collect our money; but we also are mindful of public interest and so we will be leaving there as from tomorrow. We will collect that money from Capital Oil, I can assure Nigerians of that,” Chike-Obi added.

Punch Newspapers

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