Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote resigned from the board of Dangote Flour Mills Monday as majority owner Tiger Brands cut funding to support its struggling Nigerian division, ReutersAfrica reports.
Aliko holds 10 percent of the company’s equity through Dangote Industries.
Tiger Brands has struggled to make a profit at Dangote Flour since acquiring 65 percent of the firm in 2012 for $200 — part of broader plan to offset slow growth at home by expanding elsewhere in Africa, Reuters reported in Pulse.NG.
A South Africa-based consumer goods maker, Tiger Brands is the country’s largest food producer, according to Naija247News. It makes energy drinks, bred and breakfast cereals.
It competes with Nestle Nigeria. Tiger Brands’ other businesses in Nigeria — Deli Foods and UAC Foods — will not be affected, according to Pulse.NG.
Tiger Brands is reviewing its investment in the loss-making flour and pasta maker, it said Monday.
Cutting financing to Dangote Flour will free up cash and enhance earnings in the short term but it could set Tiger Brands back in building a business in Nigeria, EWN reported.
South African companies have had mixed success in Africa’s most populous nation, Reuters reports. Woolworths pulled out two years ago. MTN grew its business there to more than a third of its total revenue. Then the Nigerian government in October imposed a $5.2 billion fine on MTN equal to two years’ worth of MTN profits.
Dangote Flour is facing a weakening naira currency and increased competition, forcing Tiger Brands to twice write down the value of the business for a total of $66.31 million.
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“Tiger Brands has decided not to provide further financial support with respect to its investment in Tiger Branded Consumer Goods plc of Nigeria,” the company said in a statement, PulseNG reports.
Shares in Dangote Flour fell as much as 4.7 percent, EyewitnessNews reports. Shares in Tiger Brands, however, climbed 7.7 percent, putting them on course for their largest daily gain seven years.
Tiger Brands warned investors in May it might need to raise money for Dangote through a sale of shares.
“Without Tiger Brands injecting money, it is the end of the line for (Dangote Flour Mills),” said Investec Securities analyst Anthony Geard in Cape Town, EWN reports.
“The business has been losing a lot of money,” Geard told Naija247. “There’s a lot of debt in Dangote Flour. If Tiger walks away from it they’re walking away from a big liability and ongoing losses.”
Another analyst said the move would enhance Tiger Brands’ earnings.
“In the longer term, Nigeria will probably be a good place to be if you have scale but Tiger Brands would probably have to refinance Dangote and probably take it a step forward by, for example, going into baking,” said Avior Capital Markets’ analyst Jiten Bechoo in Cape Town, PulseNG reports.
Tiger Brands said it’s exploring alternatives to its investment in Dangote Flour Mills. The company also announced a name change to Tiger Branded Consumer Goods, ReutersAfrica reports.
Three other Dangote Flour board directors resigned include Olakunle Alake, Asue Ighodalo and Arnold Ekpe.