File photograph of Jude Nwauzor, AMCON spokesperson
…Process of Sale Ongoing, Says AMCON Spokesperson
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) may have sole PAN Nigeria Limited, which was previously known as Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN). The car company, which used to be a leading automobile of choice in the country but ran into huge debts that led to its takeover by AMCON.
Jude Nwauzor, Head Corporate Communications of AMCON has remained elusive with confirming the current status of PAN refusing to categorically confirm to our correspondent that PAN has been sold. He said, “I do not know where you are getting the rumours from because the process is ongoing. Once it is concluded, we (AMCON) usually issue a statement to inform the public of such developments.” The AMCON spokesperson also refused to disclose the firm that may likely emerge as the new owners of PAN, Kaduna.Meanwhile, we gathered from a reliable source close to the Kaduna State-based plant that the nearly 40 years old company has been sold and as such, PAN may be on the verge of dropping the Peugeot franchise for something else especially since the Peugeot brand is struggling to compete with the likes of Toyota, Honda, KIA and Hyundai brands that have taken over Nigerian roads. A time was when Peugeot was the dominant car on Nigerian roads with most government offices across the nation using the different products of the car maker as official cars.
It is over two years now since AMCON informed the public that PAN is up for sale. The public was made to understand that a joint company owned by Automobile Peugeot (AP) and Dangote, which formed a new partnership known as Dangote Peugeot Automobile Nigeria-DPAN may have been in the forefront to win the bid to take over the car company from the government agency. That was the last that was heard from AMCON regarding that development.
Then, it was rumoured that as a result of the alleged delay on the part of AMCON owing to the usual government bureaucracy, which characterise Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in Nigeria, AP withdrew its franchise from the company. Much later, it was reported that DPAN was building another automobile assembly plant also in Kaduna State not too far away from the location of the AMCON-owned PAN.
In 2018, Ahmed Kuru, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of AMCON had told the media at some point that the delay in the sales process was caused by a decision of Automobile Peugeot France to seek partnership with another entity different from the one approved by the federal government. The AMCON CEO did not think it was wise for any business in Nigeria to get into another arrangement with the French company when the existing one they have in Nigeria was run down, which led to its takeover by his agency.
The AMCON boss recalled that it was only in Nigeria that the France-based company ‘deliberately’ refused to develop such plant into a full-blown car manufacturing plant, which would have created hundreds of thousands of employments for Nigeria. In reaction then, AP representative in Nigeria, Eric Maydiey, alleged that the joint venture, known as Dangote Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (DPAN), decided to opt-out of the bidding because over a year after bidding for the company with 52 million Euros (over N21b), AMCON was yet to declare it as the winner of the bid.
Prior to the take-over by AMCON the company, which was originally owned by the federal government and AP, as well as other shareholders like Kaduna/Katsina State governments, saw the federal government selling its shares to a new investor- ASD Motors, during the former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration of 1999-2017. However, AMCON had to step in due to the huge indebtedness of the company.
We also gathered that PAN Nigeria has already secured the franchise of other Chinese models for passenger (Chery) and commercial (Higer) vehicles to replace the Peugeot brand. It is expected that DPAN will now be the franchise owner for Peugeot vehicles.
We were also reliable informed that representatives of the new owners have already visited the Kakuri, Kaduna based company for pre-take over assessment billed and have had several meetings with AMCON in their Abuja office before the alleged sale. But again, Nwauzor pretended not to be in the know of all these developments insisting that AMCON will make a public statement at the right time.