Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc recently announced that its pioneer Managing Director and later Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Austin Avuru will retire in July 2020 after 10 years of leading the company.
In these 10 years, the outgoing CEO led the development of a strong organisation, the deployment of agile systems, processes and stakeholder relationships that allowed the organisation to grow rapidly from a gross production of 22,700 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) as at December 2010 to peaks of 111,368boepd gross production as at December 2018 through major drilling campaigns and major new Oil and Gas plants development.
The acquisition of 40 percent of OML 53, post Company’s IPO of 2014, created an opportunity in partnership with NNPC, to spawn a mid-stream subsidiary, ANOH Gas Processing Company Limited currently progressing what will ultimately be a 300MMscf/d of Gas, 22,500bdp of condensate and 1,200boepd of LPG processing Company. All these could not have been achieved without Avuru’s leadership skills, personal dedication and hard work, at the head of the Company.
While the Board of SEPLAT is grateful to Avuru for these accomplishments and looks forward to his continued service at the Board level, it has selected Roger Brown as the successor to Avuru.
Brown will be leading the Company in her latest aspirations when Avuru steps down on July 31, 2020. The Board also decided that the CEO designate will lead the restructuring during the Transition period between now and final exit date of Avuru on July 31, 2020.
Looking forward, Seplat plans to position itself for a next phase growth ambition which would see the expansion of its footprint in terms of energy business activities, a plan to pursue offshore assets as well as opportunity driven entry into different geographies.
The company believes that such a corporate transition would require a different kind of organisational structure, people skills set and mentality to compete well in the expanded space. In view of this, Seplat will be reviewing its current organisational and systems structure.
Brown joined SEPLAT in 2013 as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and played a key role in the successful dual listing of the company in 2014 on both the London and Nigerian Stock Exchanges. Similarly, since joining the company, he has played significant roles in various asset acquisitions by the company.
He brings to the CEO role, a deep knowledge of the company in his six years as the CFO and a member of the Board. He has strong financial, commercial and Mergers and Acquisition (M&A) experience as well as proven people skills which will be an asset as the company embarks on the next phase of its growth plan.
Brown is very familiar with the local and global business environments and institutions. As a new CEO he will be working towards fortifying this. He played critical roles in the company’s successful landmark deals, IPO and financial structure of debt and acquisitions, as well as increased returns to shareholders.
Prior to joining SEPLAT, Brown was an advisor to the company since 2010 while he was the Managing Director and head of EMEA Oil and Gas at Standard Bank Group. During his time at the bank, he was instrumental in providing advice and deploying capital across the African continent in the Oil & Gas, Power & Infrastructure and the renewable energy sectors.
While the company lives up to the globalization of its business, Brown will no doubt be supported by the local staff working with him in the successful company.
For instance, the company’s nine months profit of $185 million (2018: $91 million) was positively impacted by a 37percent year-on-year reduction in finance costs reflecting de-leveraging of the balance sheet early in the year when the outstanding balance on the 2022 revolving credit facility (RCF) was ultimately reduced to zero.
He is a chartered accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. Brown holds MSc in Finance from University of Ulster; BSc (Hons) in Finance from University of Dundee. He attended Belfast Royal Academy.
Roger Brown joined Seplat and its board in July 2013, having previously been an advisor to the company since 2010, and was instrumental to setting up the London office for the company prior to listing on the Nigerian and London Stock Exchanges (Main Board).
During his time at the company he steered the business through extremely challenging times during low oil prices and an 18-month period when the business was not producing oil due to a shut-in of its main oil pipeline.
He also put in place a total of $1.75billion of financing which included an inaugural $350million Eurobond as well as bringing in a number of top tier banks into the syndicate. He is responsible for reporting, corporate finance, investor relations, enterprise risk management, internal audit, commercial negotiations / contracts and business development. He currently runs a team of 55 people.
The Global group had some 70 professionals focused on the oil and gas. Brown headed the CEEMEA team based in London focusing on Debt, Mezzanine and Equity investments in the sector. In addition to capital, the group also provided structuring advice and M&A services to both buy side and sell side clients.
He was a senior originator and structured all forms of financing for industry clients such as Project Finance, Structured Commodity Finance, Acquisition Finance, Corporate Lending and Debt Capital Markets.
Key achievements: He was instrumental in up-tiering the banks positioning in the markets with clients and also originating and closing some high-profile transactions.
Prior to focusing on the Oil and Gas sector, Brown previously led Standard Bank’s Renewable Energy and Power and Infrastructure teams based in London.
As Senior Manager in the Project Finance Department at Price Waterhouse Coopers, London focusing on providing advice to governments and private sector developers in the UK and Middle East.
At Coopers & Lybrand, he served as Manager in the corporate finance department, focusing on servicing of multinational companies with offices in Singapore. At the Coopers & Lybrand Edinburgh, Brown was the Manager in the audit department, focusing on manufacturing and industrial companies.
His select deal experience
Oil and Gas: Tullow Oil: $2.5 million RBL and $600 million corporate loan facility for Uganda – Mandated Lead Arranger; Afren: $450 million RBL – Mandated Lead Arranger; Seplat: Lead advisor for Seplat’s IPO, one of the largest IPO’s in sub-Saharan Africa.
Also led a $250 million pre-IPO share disposal and various other advisory mandates; FHN: $180 million acquisition and development facility for the acquisition of OML 26 from Shell; Neconde: $470 million development facility for the refinancing of the acquisition of OML 42 from Shell; BP: $1.5 billion – managing the global account and responsible for various credit facilities; Socar – $250 million credit facilities for Socar Trading – Mandated Lead Arranger; Shoreline Natural Resources: $765 million guarantee and a $550 million bridge facility to acquire OML 30 from Shell – Lead Advisor and Arranger; Heritage Oil and Gas – Financial Advisor for sale of Miran Block to Genel; Ophir – syndicate member for the listing of Ophir on the Main Board of the London Stock Exchange; Heritage Oil and Gas – Sell side advisor.
Approximate deal size $2billion; Confidential: Sell side advisor to a private oil and Gas company in a merger with a major stock exchange listed Oil and Gas company; PUMA – $300 million acquisition of BP’s downstream assets in African – Mandated Lead Arranger; West African Gas Pipeline – $600 million adviser to the government of Ghana on its investment in the West African Gas Pipeline project and negotiation on the Gas Sales Agreement between WAPCO and VRA; and Adviser and Arranger on a 550km gas pipeline in Brazil.
Others are: Essar – Arranger on a $2.0 billion refinery project in India; Gulmar Offshore – Mandated Lead Arranger for a $40 million financing for an oil services company in Sharja to acquire and upgrade a DP2 ship; Essar – Arranger of a $250 million facility to finance the upgrade of a semi-submersible oil rig; Power & Infrastructure –Jantus: Adviser and Arranger on a 220 MW wind farm in North East Brazil, under the Proinfa Programme. The farm is the largest in Latin America; Jantus: M&A mandate to dispose of a 51percent stake in a 200MW wind farm in North East Brazil, under the Proinfa Programme; Adviser and Arranger on a 66MW Geothermal power plant in Nicaragua; HLC: Adviser and Arranger on a 128 MW thermal power plant in Ceara, North Eastern Brazil; Rurelec – Arranger on a 120MW combined cycle power plant in Argentina.
The transaction includes the securitisation of carbon credits; EGSA – Arranger to provide acquisition financing to a UK company purchasing a majority stake in the largest electricity generator in Bolivia; CEC – Adviser and Arranger on a $100m leveraged buyout of a power transmission business in Zambia. The leveraged buyout was a ground breaking transaction on the African continent; Biodiesel Energy Trading – Adviser and Arranger of a 400,000MT biodiesel plant in Sines, Portugal.
Standard Bank was an equity investor and MLA for the plant; Kladno – Arranger on a 340 MW coal and gas fired power plant in the Czech Republic; Equity provider for a start-up wave technology company in the UK; Equity provider for a leading fuel cell company in the UK; Adviser and Arranger on a 66MW thermal power plant in Mauritius; Adviser to a power transmission business in Zambia to raise equity and debt finance for the development of new expansion projects the company is pursuing; Arranger on a 500MW power project in South Africa developed by a UK listed power company; Arranger for a number of carbon credit portfolio financings.
The financings range from upfront prepayments to discounted receivables; Adviser and Arranger and equity provider on a portfolio of wind farms in India.
First stage financing was a 50MW wind farm developed in the Karnataka region; Prior to Joining Standard Bank – Adviser to Minster of Energy in Oman in the development of a $200m power plant at Salalah, Oman; Adviser to Minster of Energy in Oman in the development of a waste water treatment plant in Muscat; Adviser to a UK developer on a $180m shadow toll road scheme; Adviser to the UK government on the $1.2 billion redevelopment of the MoD headquarters at Whitehall.
At the time of closing the transaction was the largest ever PFI scheme; Adviser to the Ascot Authority on the construction of a new $290 million stadium at Ascot; Adviser to the UK government on the development of a $130 million waste water treatment facility.
–––Umoren, an energy analyst writes from Uyo