Aero Contractors is one of the oldest airlines in Nigeria. That alone would normally be a sign of success. Why do you think the company became insolvent?
I was not there when the company became insolvent, so answering that question as to what the reasons were would be mere speculation.
But I can tell you why many companies were struggling at that time. The devaluation of the naira, the downturn of the economy, the low cost of crude oil and so many other external reasons.
And then also, within Aero, corporate governance structure and bad management decisions contributed to its insolvency.
Do you think the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) made the right decision in taking over Aero rather than allow the company to solve its own problems or fail if it couldn’t?
If AMCON had not put Aero under receivership, there would be no Aero Contractors today. So, definitely, AMCON made the right decision.
In this particular instance, I think the aviation industry would have been the bigger loser if Aero had been allowed to fail
Who do you think would have suffered more, the banking or the airline industry if Aero had been allowed to go under?
AMCON was created to rescue the banking industry from bad debts. It has saved a lot of jobs. But in this particular instance, I think the aviation industry would have been the bigger loser if Aero had been allowed to fail.
You’ve managed the company for three years now. Can you confidently say you have returned Aero to profitability?
I have managed Aero for two and a half years now. Still, I cannot confidently say Aero has returned to profitability.
It has a huge debt profile, so we are still in the recovery phase. What I can confidently say is that Aero is generating enough to cover its costs.
Is the aviation industry in Nigeria viable? Is it profitable?
Yes, it is profitable as long as the right corporate governance structure is put in place.
You mentioned that Aero still has a huge debt profile. What is the size of its debt?
That is not something I can disclose publicly. It is confidential to the company. Beside that, we are talking with interested buyers for the company.
They are looking at all the company’s assets and liabilities. The negotiations too have to hold in confidentiality.
If I could put the question differently, how much has AMCON invested in Aero?
You will have to put that question to AMCON because there is no way we would know. There could be other costs associated with the takeover that Aero is not aware of and did not necessitate cash transfers.
So, AMCON would be in a better position to say how much it has invested.
Is there an option of offering the founding shareholders of Aero, the opportunity to reacquire their shares?
Again, that would be best answered by AMCON. I don’t know the agreement that was reached between the original shareholders and AMCON.