Femi Otedola is a Nigerian businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and chairman of Forte Oil PLC, an importer of fuel products. He is also the founder of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, and the owner of a number of other businesses across shipping, real estate and finance. He has recently invested in power generation as part of the liberalisation of the sector in Nigeria.
In 2003, having identified an opportunity in the fuel retail market, Otedola secured the finance to set up Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, a petroleum products marketing and distribution company.
In 2007 Otedola was appointed chairman and chief executive of Africa Petroleum through the acquisition of a controlling stake in the business. In December that year he personally acquired a further 29.3 per cent of the company for N40 billion. A merger of this personal holding with Zenon’s brought Otedola’s total stake to 55.3 per cent
In December 2010 African Petroleum rebranded, changing its name to Forte Oil PLC. Otedola carried out a restructuring of the business, focusing on technology and improved corporate governance. Forte Oil returned to profit in 2012
In 1994 Otedola established CentreForce Ltd, specialising in finance, investments and trading. He is also the owner of Swift Insurance.
Otedola is chief executive and president of SeaForce Shipping Company Ltd and was at one point Nigeria’s largest ship owner after extending control over the distribution of diesel products. One of his ships, a flat bottomed bunker vessel with a storage capacity of 16,000 metric tonnes, was the first of its kind in Africa.
In January 2006 Otedola was appointed a non-executive director of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc, a multi-sect0ral conglomerate established in 2004 by then-President Obasanjo to respond to market opportunities requiring heavy capital investment in Nigeria and across sub-Saharan Africa. He held this post until February 2011.
Otedola has made a number of real estate investments, including a N2.3 billion acquisition in February 2007 by Zenon of Stallion House in Victoria Island in Lagos, from the Federal Government. The following month he was appointed chairman of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja and tasked with driving its expansion and upgrade to a seven star facility. He is the owner of FO Properties Ltd. Otedola has been reported to be a major financier of the People’s Democratic Party and is said to have contributed N100 million to President Obasanjo’s re-election expenses in 2003. He was a close ally of President Goodluck Jonathan. He has served as a member of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) since 2004, and the same year was appointed to a committee tasked with developing commercial relations with South Africa. In 2011 Femi Otedola was appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan to Nigeria’s National Economic Management Team.
Otedola has made several donations to the Michael Otedola University Scholarship Scheme, which was established in 1985 to give underprivileged students in Lagos State access to higher education. In 2005 Zenon donated N200 million to the scheme’s fund. Since its inception the scheme has benefited more than 1,000 students.