In a bid to enhance production capacity and further increase its market share, shareholders of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc have given the nod for the formal takeover of Savannah Sugar Company Limited.
Shareholders of DSR during their Extraordinary General Meeting, which was preceded by the 2019 Annual General Meeting, voted in favour of merger of the two companies as the sub-Saharan Africa’s largest sugar refining firm embarked on the next stage of its backward integration plan to revolutionise the sugar sub-sector of the nation’s economy.
The Chairman of the company, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said the DSR, a top tier player in the industry with installed capacity to produce 1.44 million metric tones per annum, will be leveraging on the Savannah Sugar’s sugarcane production capacity to enhance its production capacity.
According to Dangote, Savannah Sugar has 32,000 hectares of land available for cultivation of sugar cane as well as milling capacity of 50,000 tonnes of sugar per annum and that upon the merger, further investments would be made to increase SSCL land under cultivation.
Dangote explained that the DSR board considered the merger as fair and reasonable and believed that it would provide strategic opportunities and benefits for the company, employees and other stakeholders as the new company would be operating from the position of increased access to capital and then higher profitability.
He listed some of the benefits of the merger as being to consolidate the assets, intellectual property rights, operations and business dealings of the SSCL into the DSR; eliminate cost inefficiencies arising from duplication of resources and processes and improve the efficiency through more focused management of resources; and position it as the biggest integrated sugar producer in Nigeria.
The Chairman of the Company explained that necessary approvals have been given by all concerned regulatory authorities and the merger would positively alter the sugar sectorial landscape as the Federal Government’s backward integration policy would be better implemented by the company.
Earlier, during the AGM of the company, a shareholder rights’ activist, Nona Awoh, urged the Government to protect the manufacturing sector through incentives and promotional policies.
Awoh specifically asked the government to secure the borders in order to deter smugglers who flood the market with inferior goods at lower prices, thereby strangulating the manufacturing sector.
He asked Dangote Sugar to liaise with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and Nigeria Employers Consultative Association to form a pressure group that should engage the government to increase efforts in curbing smuggling.
He appreciated that he was chosen to represent other shareholders at the AGM, where attendance and participation were restricted because of COVID-19 guidelines.
In his reaction, foremost shareholder activist, Sir Sunny Nwosu, charged Dangote Sugar to increase local production by setting more sugar plantations as to make Nigeria sufficient in sugar production.
He said tDangote has achieved this feat in cement, which has made Nigeria a net exporter of cement, adding that it is possible to replicate same in sugar production.
Nwosu was particular that management should increase production volume now that the borders are shut and develop export capabilities as to increase sales and profit.
Another shareholder representative, Bisi Bakare tasked the management of the sugar refinery to put in more efforts as to make more profits, which would result in more dividends.
Dangote, responding, stated that the future of the business is in growing more sugar locally as to hedge from the fluctuations in foreign exchange.
Growing more sugar locally means removing the need for import of raw sugar for refining.
He said the backward integration, which is still ongoing, has seen the establishment of many sugar plantations across Nigeria.
“We will try to meet the domestic demand for sugar from local production,” he added.
Despite the challenging business environment and the intense competition in the industry, the company posted a group turnover of N161.1 billion, a 7.1 per cent increase over N150.4 billion in 2018, a profit before tax of N29.8 billion and profit after tax of N22.4 billion.