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100% foreign ownership of multinationals alien to any Nigerian business law—Senate

…May probe CAC over poor scrutiny on submitted returns
By virtue of the provisions of the Act establishing Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), foreign company or multinational investing and registering a company in Nigeria must have Nigerian(s) on the board with a substantial share holding to meet all terms and condition for doing business in Nigeria.
However, the Senate Committee on Local Content has bumped on circumstances suggesting that a lot of registered oil and gas multinationals operating in Nigeria may have voided the provision with impunity and have practiced same for years without being caught.
Accordingly, it has resolved to investigate 100 per cent foreign ownership of some multinational companies registered in Nigeria.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Solomon Adeola (Yayi), who spoke at the end of the committee’s two day oversight visit to Rivers and Bayelsa states, he expressed anger discovering that some multinational companies registered in Nigeria operate on 100 per cent foreign ownership which is unconstitutional.
According to him, “I was astonished to find out that many of these companies have been in Nigeria for upward of 50 years and have been doing business without getting Nigerians involved.
“We find it disturbing that a company will be in Nigeria for so many years without consideration to their shareholding structure.
“We put the blame on those who were meant to implement or monitor these companies except if there is legislation that allows that, that we do not know about.
“Some of these companies bear ‘Nigeria Limited’ but they are 100 per cent owned by their parent bodies abroad.
“I wonder how they scaled through the Corporate Affairs Commission’s scrutiny to the extent that they are unnoticed and they have been submitting returns to the commission over these years.
“I would not know if there is any law that gives them that opportunity or is it that some people are conniving with them to defraud Nigeria in this regard.
“All these are what we will unearth by the time the committee is putting together its report,” he said.
Adeola (APC-Lagos) said the committee would find out if there is legislation that permitted such, then come out with a firm position on matter.
On non-listing of some of the companies on Nigeria’s stock exchange, the lawmaker said it was worrisome.
According to him, the committee found out that companies like Halliburton, TechnipFMC, Saipem and a host of others have not been listed on the stock exchange, saying “it baffles me what gave them the impetus to remain a fully foreign owned company in Nigeria and some have operated for well over 50 years.
“We will come out to the public with our findings. If we found out that the gap is in our legislation we will know what to do and if they are merely taking advantage of Nigeria we will also know what to do.”
Though he did not give further details on whether CAC Act will be amended, the lawmakers were silent on any form of sanctions for firms discovered to have circumvented any provision of the CAC Act.