TRAFIGURA, controversial commodities conglomerate and the third largest independent oil trader in the world, has bought BP’s assets in Namibia.
The deal, struck through the Trafigura subsidiary, Puma Energy International, yesterday was confirmed by Mines and Energy Minister Isak Katali.
Trafigura, who has been accused of kickbacks in South Africa and found guilty of illegally exporting toxic waste from Amsterdam before reportedly dumping it in the Ivory Coast, has recently been named in a high-powered ploy to try and secure the contract to supply half of Namibia’s fuel.
According to confidential documents leaked to the media, Trafigura is backing Erumbi Energy, a consortium spearheaded by business mogul Aaron Mushimba, brother-in-law of Founding President Sam Nujoma, and Tjeripo Hijarunguru, former chief executive officer of Agribank. Erumbi wants a joint venture with Namcor and in the process muscle out Glencore as partner who supplies 50 per cent of the country’s fuel needs.
Namcor received the proposal via Presidential Affairs Minister and Attorney General Albert Kawana. With it, Kawana drew a diagram, of which The Namibian has a copy, to illustrate how the deal would work.
Kawana listed Trafigura and Sonangol, the state-owned petroleum company in Angola, as strategic partners. On the Namibian side, Kawana listed the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL), the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), the Swapo Women’s Council and Kalahari Holdings as part of Erumbi. According to Kawana’s sketch, the Namibians would hold 51 per cent of the shares, while Trafigura and Sonangol would share 49 per cent.
Erumbi has offered to refinance Namcor, returning the company to solvency.
Namcor also had its eye on BP’s assets, hoping it would be able to boost income by entering the local retail market.Source
Documents show that Government initially was in favour of Namcor’s bid. In a letter to BP International’s Group Chief Executive, Anthony Hayward, on March 16, former Mines and Energy Minister Erkki Nghimtina wrote that “the Government of Namibia accordingly hereby undertakes to provide Namcor with the requisite financial assistance in order to facilitate the acquisition of 100 per cent of BP’s fuels and lubricant marketing business in Namibia”.
Namcor successfully completed the first round of bidding with an offer of N$637,5 million. Beukes then wrote to Katali, who in the meantime replaced Nghimtina, asking for a Government guarantee.
The Cabinet Committee on Treasury (CCT) met in June to consider the deal. A month later Cabinet released a statement saying the CCT “was not convinced that buying BP Namibia is economically viable for Namcor in light of the fact that Namcor is already facing cash problems, while the projected cash flow for BP Namibia does not confirm the acquisition as a feasible proposal”.
Cabinet refused to back financially, forcing Namcor to withdraw from the process.
In addition to Namibia, Trafigura has also bought BP’s assets in Botswana and Zambia.