Home News We’re not reviving United Palm Products with N100b, says Enugu govt

We’re not reviving United Palm Products with N100b, says Enugu govt

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Enugu State government has explained that it is not committing N100 billion into its partnership with a private firm to revive the moribund United Palm Products Ltd (UPPL).

In providing more facts on the deal, the state government emphasised that it “is not releasing N100 billion or any dime to Pragmatic Palms Ltd”, adding that instead, Pragmatic Palms Ltd, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the partnership, will finance the revitalisation of UPPL.

In a statement by the senior special adviser to the governor on external relations, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, the state government said Pragmatic Palm Ltd would provide finance for 60 per cent of the transaction value while the Peter Mbah administration would provide the plantations valued at 40 per cent equity.

Anichukwu said UPPL is one of the numerous initiatives of the late premier of the defunct Eastern Region, Dr. Michael Okpara, and had been moribund for decades.

He said UPPL was expectedly one of the many moribund assets pencilled down for revitalisation by Governor Peter Mbah in line with his campaign promise to convert the state’s dormant assets to productive assets and grow the state’s economy exponentially from the current $4.4 billion to $30 billion through private sector investments.

Anichukwu further clarified that this culminated in the N100 billion deal between the state government and Pragmatic Palms Ltd., a subsidiary of Diamond Stripes Ltd. on Thursday, 9 May 2024 after months-long negotiation and due diligence that started way back in 2023.

He said, “Because several parties/investors are involved, it became imperative, as is the best international practice, to register a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) as the platform to transact the deal. Pragmatic Palms Ltd. was duly incorporated before the signing of the agreement.

“For the avoidance of doubt, however, although it is not the case in this instance, it is apposite to also note that the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020, provides for a Pre-incorporation Contract.

“Section 96 (1) of CAMA, 2020, provides: “Any contract or other transaction purporting to be entered into by the company or by person on behalf of the company prior to its formation may be ratified by the company after its formation and thereupon the Company shall become bound by and entitled to the benefit thereof as if it has been in existence at the date of such contract or other transaction and had been a party thereto.

“As demanded by the Enugu State government, Pragmatic Palms Ltd provided a guarantor, which is Diamond Stripes Ltd, a reputable and huge company that has done investments worth over $20 billion spanning the power and renewable energy sector, port sector, and agricultural sector since 2013. Diamond Stripes Ltd is the sole investor in Onitsha River Port and has invested heavily in the agricultural sector where it is the largest owner of silo complexes in Nigeria. It was involved in the acquisition of 600mw Shiroro Hydroelectric Power plant in 2013, concessions of 30mw Gurara Hydroelectric Power Plant in 2019, and establishment of the 300mwShiroro solar power project in 2021.

“The state’s interest in the N100 billion UPPL deal is well secured, benefitting from Governor Peter Mbah’s experience as an investment finance expert and an entrepreneur, who has handled multi-billion-dollar projects himself. Besides asking for and getting a corporate guarantor on the part of Pragmatic Palms Ltd, the government also demanded for and got bank guarantors from Pragmatic Palms. Importantly, performance targets and timelines were equally set in the Agreement for Pragmatic Palms Ltd. failing which the Enugu State Government is free to revoke the deal and reassume total ownership of United Palm Products Ltd.

“In addition, the Enugu State Government is represented on the company’s board, including the Chairmanship of the Board, as part of the steps taken to secure the state’s interest”, he said.

Anichukwu also disclosed that the MD of Pragmatic Palms Ltd, is also the MD/CEO of Diamond Stripes, George Nwangwu, and a professor of project financing law, who has led transaction teams that have participated in the consummation of over 100 privatisation or Public Private Partnership (PPP) transactions worth over $20 billion across Africa.

“Prof. Nwangwu was the head of infrastructure finance at the Ministry of Finance under the leadership of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, during which he led the team that delivered the Second Niger Bridge deal.

“Clearly, it is a new dawn for the United Palm Products Ltd. to the benefit of the people of Enugu State after decades of rot and neglect. The partnership is promising and the project is in good hands”, he said.

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