SAN FRANCISCO, November 07, (THEWILL) – It is no longer news that Benedict Peters, the billionaire founder of Aiteo Group, one of Africa’s leading energy companies, lives outside the shores of Nigeria from where he directs his businesses in Africa’s largest economy and the continent.
Reliable sources close to the energy baron told THEWILL DOWNTOWN that the media shy Peters operates his businesses from multiple locations across the United States, Europe and Africa as the case may be. “This is not a big deal if you are playing at that level.”
Top Nigerian business owners have been known over the years to live outside the country from where they operate their businesses for various reasons not limited to insecurity, family, quality of life, convenience and persecution by the state and individuals.
Nigerian billionaires like Mike Adenuga; Femi Otedola; Nuel Ojei, ChannelsTV Chairman, John Momoh, late Rilwanu Lukman and several others like Dele Momodu and ThisDay Chairman, Nduka Obaigbena, still live or have lived outside Nigeria at some point and operated their businesses successfully.
Those close to him say Peters has not abandoned Nigeria. “He’s here whenever there is a need. He’s always been very discreet. He’s always been a very private person,” one associate said.
Peters’ Aiteo holds a majority stake in OML 29, one of Nigeria’s most lucrative oil blocks producing 90, 000bpd, acquired from Shell in 2014 through syndicated financing from multiple banks.
Peters and his company have been under sustained attacks especially in the social media space since they successfully edged out powerful competitors in their acquisition of the Shell assets, including the strategic Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL) in an indisputably, fair, legitimate and transparent process.
There have been unsuccessful attempts so far to link him and Aiteo to the ongoing probe of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who authorities are investigating for graft.
Aiteo, again on Monday responded to yet another attack suggesting it was divesting a portion of its stake in OML 29, saying “Some fraudsters running a reports-for-cash syndicate, about whom we raised alarm so very recently, are suggesting that a portion of the shareholding of the company that holds the asset, OML 29, had been put up for sale to repay a loan.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Aiteo has neither considered, initiated, nor announced the commencement of any plans to sell off any of its stake in OML 29.”