By Bassey Udo
Pioneer Chairman, Seplat Energy Plc, ABC Orjiako (right), receives an award from Chief Executive Officer, London Stock Exchange (LSE) Plc, Julia Hoggett, at an opening bell ringing ceremony in his honour by the Exchange in London on June 8.
The Board and management of Seplat Energy PLC visited the London Stock Exchange (LSE) on Wednesday to introduce its new Chairman, Board of Directors, Basil Omiyi, just as his predecessor, ABC Orjiako, was eulogised for his exceptional accomplishments while on the saddle.
Seplat Energy Plc is listed on both the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) and London Stock Exchange.
Reputed to be one of Nigeria’s fast growing indigenous oil and gas companies, Seplat Energy says it is driving the country’s energy transition towards cleaner and more reliable energy.
Following Orjiako’s retirement last month as the pioneer Chairman of the Board of Directors of the company after 13 years, Omiyi, the former Managing Director of Shell Companies in Nigeria, was named as his successor.
During the visit to London on Wednesday, Orjiako noted the magnanimity of the LSE and LSEG’s Africa Advisory Group (LAAG) that made the visit possible.
He said for the management of the Exchange to allow him to ring the opening bell of the LSE, to mark his exit as the Chairman of Seplat Energy brings ro him very old memories, “starting from 2014 when we first rang the bell to list our security in this market.”
“One of the things that gladdens my heart is the fact that everything on the Board turned green as we rang the bell. This is very important for us in Seplat Energy. Colour green not only signifies good performance in the market, but remains a very important symbol in Seplat. It symbolises life, it symbolises what this company represents, particularly sustainability and business,” Orjiako said.
The pioneer chairman of Seplat Energy spoke further: “I want to thank you for this great opportunity. I am the last of the founders of Seplat Energy to leave. For Seplat, it is a promise kept. It is a very strong and apt statement to say that Seplat believes in enduring, strong and robust corporate governance practices. We made up our minds from the beginning that this company will fly and grow, if we maintain very good corporate governance. So, when we started, we made a promise that the chairmanship of this company would be handed over to an independent non-executive Chairman”.
The chief executive officer of the London Stock Exchange Plc, Julia Hogget, said although she occasionally had the opportunity to meet members of the Exchange in person, the visit of the Seplat Energy management team was the first a lot of the LSE team would come to acknowledge the many achievements Orjiako recorded in his career.
“I know this isn’t the end. We need to make sure that this doesn’t feel like an eulogy, but a transitioning from one remarkable stage in life to the next. And we are also thoroughly delighted that we get to keep you with LAAG, because it has been such an important part. Your contributions are such an important part. It is fair to say that there have been many African successes in London since the outset of the advisory group. But Seplat Energy, for me, when I was working through this with the team, actually feels like an exemplar of so much of what LAAG is about, but also what we are seeking to achieve for the future as well. And the trailblazing that you have done as Chairman, I think is an illustration of that,” Hogget ssid.
She said Seplat Energy was also the first Nigerian company to list ordinary shares simultaneously on the London Stock Exchange and the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX). The $535million that was successfully raised during that initial public offering (IPO) was both oversubscribed, and the largest IPO in subject,” she added.
“It says a lot about the people at the London Stock Exchange that one of the things that they wanted me to make sure I equally reference, apart from the IPO, was the financial innovation that took place following the listing, in terms of the cross border settlement mechanism, which is a really important point. It is also that innovation that enabled the seamless transverse shares between the UK and Nigerian share registers. This mechanism has paved the way for other issuers to use the “Seplat Model” to dual-list in London and the UK.
“Innovations paved the way for massive effect, and I think that is part of the history of the organization as well. So, Seplat, apart from being an energy company, has become a financial platform for investors, following the IPO. All these with you at the helm, made Seplat the first,” she said.
Following his introduction, the new Chairman of the Board of Directors of Seplat Energy Plc, Basil Omiyi, expressed delight for the opportunity for him to speak on behalf of the Board and management of Seplat Energy.
He said the special occasion organized by the LSE and LAAG in honour of Orjiako, the Pioneer Chairman of Seplat Energy, was in recognition of his accomplishments with the Exchange, to mark his retirement from the board of the company.
“We appreciate the kind gesture by the Exchange and London Stock Exchange Africa Advisory Group (LAAG) to honour him. Our Pioneer Chairman, Dr. ABC Orjiako, who is very well known to you, has led our company to build and nurture a very rewarding relationship with the Exchange since its listing,” Omiyi said.
“We are happy to be seen as an example for others to follow and thank the Exchange for the role it has played in enabling Seplat Energy to become the Nigerian Champion it has grown to be,” he added.
Also speaking, the Chairman of LSEG’s Africa Advisory Group, Suneel Bakhshi, said there was a natural respect from all LAAG members for Orjiakor.
“I have seen that over the years, when we had some meetings in London, Nairobi, Abuja and hopefully many more to come. I feel that ABC (Orjiakor) symbolises the spirit of LAAG in so many ways and obviously your confidence with what you achieved in Seplat supports that. You are the reason far beyond the successes of Seplat. We look forward to many more years ABC,” Bakhshi said.