Nigerian billionaire, Femi Otedola, has lost over $400 million of his fortune in the past nine weeks as his company, Forte Oil, has shed 43.5% of its share value in the period.
In late February the share price of Forte Oil hit an all-time high of N342 per share after the Lagos-based utilities and petroleum marketing company released its impressive 2015 FY results and declared an attractive dividend of N3.45 per share.
However, as at close of trading on Tuesday, its share price has dropped to N193.46 after recording consistent daily losses over the past few weeks. Otedola is the company’s controlling shareholder and has seen his paper net worth drop from $1.6 billion when FORBES published its annual ranking of the World’s Billionaires in March, to $1.2 billion.
The drop in the company’s share price is believed to have been caused by massive sell-offs of bonus shares from some of the company’s retail investors. Last year, Forte Oil had offered investors a bonus of 1 new share for every 5 ordinary shares they held.
In total, Forte Oil declared roughly 216 million bonus shares for the 2014 business year. The bonus shares were only issued to investors a couple of weeks ago and they have been scrabbling to sell off their bonus shares on the market to cash in. This mass sell-off has precipitated the drop in the share price.
“This is only temporary. As you’ll see, even though investors are selling off their bonus shares, there are institutional investors who are buying up all the shares on offer as evidenced by the volume of the transactions in the last few days. When all those bonus shares are cleared up by institutional investors, you’ll see the share price rising again,” someone at the company said.