PZ shareholders reject N21/share acquisition offer

Bisola David
Bisola David
PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc has convened an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders following a N73.8 billion loss that reduced the value of its net assets.

PZ Cussons (Holdings) Limited, the company’s core stakeholder, made an offer to buy out all of the other shareholders for N21 per share, but the company’s minority shareholders rejected it.

The shareholders told The Times in an exclusive interview that the consideration is unacceptable and that they will sue to get fair value for their shares.

PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc announced that PZ Cussons (Holdings) Limited intends to buy all of its shareholders’ outstanding shares for N21 per share.

3,970,477,045 shares of PZCN are now listed on the Nigerian Exchange Limited.

According to a statement made on the floor of the NGX and signed by PZCN’s Ag. Company Secretary, Olubukola Olonade-Agaga, this proposed transaction is however subject to approval by the company’s board, shareholders, and the other regulatory bodies.

In response to the incident, the President of the New Dimension Shareholders Association, Mr. Patrick Ajudua, stated in an exclusive interview that shareholders vehemently oppose PZ Cusson UK’s proposed plan to acquire minority owners in Nigeria for the pittance of N21.

“It’s unjust, unfair, and aims to underpay minority stockholders. This business has been engaged in asset stripping for the past three years; it sold Friesland Campina a portion of the manufacturing land in Ikorodu for N2.12 billion and from there paid a dividend.”

The corporation sold non-core assets the next year for a price of N9.84 billion, and from that money it also distributed dividends.

In order to plan their withdrawal in stages, the company has been engaged in serial asset disposal, using some of the proceeds to pay shareholders as dividends as opposed to paying from operational profit, he said.

Ajudua added that shareholders should be extremely concerned about the poor corporate governance that led to the resignation of three board members, including the chairman and company secretary.

“We demand that the regulator conduct a forensic examination of PZ’s business practices, its audited annual report, and tax payments to the relevant government agency.”

Any price below N100 per share is totally unacceptable to Nigerian shareholders, and they will appropriately protest, he said.

The National Coordinator of the Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr. Moses Igbrude, stated that the delisting of large, multinational corporations from the market is a fundamental flaw in the market that needs to be addressed.

“We are urging the SEC, NGX, and other regulators to conduct a stakeholder meeting in order to discover answers and solutions to the increasing number of delistings. If they don’t, more businesses will close their doors, and our stock market would essentially disappear.”

Igbrude called on the government to promulgate a law to ensure that core investors in any company are not allowed to have more than 51% equity.

“With more than 51% equity holding, they can run a company aground and seek to exit with peanuts to shareholders,” he said.

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