Benue sells off Remaining Interests in Benue Breweries Limited

Posted: February 4, 2013 in BENUE, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Benue State government has sold of its remaining 15% interest in the
Benue Breweries Limited (BBL), producers of MORE Lager Beer,to
Consolidated Breweries Limited .

This stripping off of the state’s
remaining 15% interest in BBL further means that the name of the
company will now change from BBL to Consolidated Breweries.

Governor Gabriel Suswam under whose administration the deal for final
takeover of the only thriving company in the state is sealed explained
that , it became imperative for him to hand-over the company to
consolidated breweries due to its leading role in the brewery industry
with several successful brands in the Nigerian market; pointing out
that the new owner has better managerial capability,capital adequacy
and technical know-how to make a success of the Benue Brewery.

“We decided to sell our remaining stake in the company to Consolidated
breweries because their vision for the expansion and operation of the
company was in accord with our industrial vision of the state. Benue
State will therefore, not lose but gain from this transfer as the
multiplier effect of a successful and profitable Benue Brewery under
private ownership would generate jobs, stimulate business along its
market outlets and distribution chains and create the required
positive ripple-effect on the state’s economy.” He informed.

The Governor who was represented by his deputy, Chief Steven Lawani,
at the formal ceremony said proceeds from the sale of the 15% stake
would go into reviving other industries, adding that government will
still gain through taxation and market stimulation.

He said BBL operated profitably until 1987 when its technical partners pulled out, adding that as part of measures to revive the company and following
the success of the privatization programme of the Federal Government
in such companies like the Benue Cement Company, BCC Plc, the state
government and the 18 other stateholders sold their shares to the
core-investor,International Beer and Beverage Industries Limited
(IBBI) with Government retaining 15% of its initial 43.38% stake.

Government and IBBI thus became the only shareholders up to 2010.
Governor suswam however assured the people of the state that the
Ministry of Commerce and Industry will continue to keep close watch at
company under its new owners to ensure that the public interest in the
company in terms of jobs and other direct and indirect benefits such
as involvement of indigenes in the company’s marketing strategy are
respected and promoted.

Also speaking, the Commissioner for Commerce and Industries, Mr. Terfa
Hindan contended that the divestment of the state’s 15% interest in
the company is a welcome development because the ‘economies of scale
of the state cannot allow government to continue investment in the
project.

Mr. Hindan said since inception of the Governor Suswam’s
administration, government has not reaped any dividend, saying for
that reason, the governor had no alternative than to dispose of the
remaining 15%.

According to him, money realized will be used to revive the ailing
Katsina Ala Fruitcon Industry, the Cassava processing Plant and the
fertilizer Blending Plant which he said have been in comatose many
years ago but for which contracts were awarded.

The commissioner stated that Government is a poor manager of
industries, a decision that informed hands-off of certain industries
into private hands, and sited poor power supply as another challenge
faced in the process of industrialization in the state.

Managing Director of Consolidated Breweries Plc, Boudewijn Haarsma, in
his address identified increased production capacity, enhancing better
access to the Middle Belt region; and building sustained synergy
between staff of consolidated breweries to achieve good quality of
More Beer, as reasons for the acquisition of Benue Breweries.

Mr. Boudewijn Haarsma expressed optimism that with the acquisition of
BBL, the new owner will now offer the widest brand portfolio and
quality brands in beer and non-alcoholic malts, drawing its technical
expertise from its major shareholder, Heineken International which he
says helps them in offering unrivalled combination of both quality and
value for money.

He sued for unity with the people of the state to ensure efficiency in
production of quality brands desired by the consumers; stressing that
significant investments have already been made in BBL since CB came
in.
He expressed the hope to complete the N1.3 billion capacity
expansion project that doubles Benue’s production capacity, while job
opportunities will be opened to indigenes of the state.

This is not the first time the state will be stripped-off of its major
thriving firm. The first was the sale of Benue Cement Company, BCC, to
Alhaji Aliko Dangote which was orchestrated by former Senate
President, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, during the Obasanjo’s administration in
the year 2000. The sale was accosted by protests by indigenes of the
state including those in the diaspora. Cement production at the
factory has at the moment been grounded to a halt.

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