By Ivory Ukonu –
About five years ago, when Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote decided to expand his business by adding a car assembly plant, many Nigerians were excited because it would impact positively on the country’s economic growth and development, as well as reduce the people’s dependence on foreign products and services.
In alliance with Kaduna and Kebbi States and the Bank of Industry (BOI), he bid for a majority stake in Peugeot Automobiles of Nigeria (PAN). The company was already under receivership with Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and the asset recovering agency was seeking investors to buy off some of the assets, following several challenges that partly ruined it. The Federal Government had sold off its controlling stake in the company in 2006 to local core investors who struggled to keep it afloat.
In 2012, AMCON acquired a controlling stake in the company and took over the company’s debt. But even AMCON struggled to keep it afloat. PAN was by now, badly in need of a new lease of life and when Dangote signified his interest and made a bid for it, to inject 52 million euros, about N21 billion, into the company, everyone heaved a sigh of relief.
Unfortunately, that plan was dead on arrival. Dangote quickly reconsidered, having seen that investing in PAN would have been a huge liability, something he wasn’t willing to take on. He changed course and a year after, signed a joint venture agreement with Peugeot of France (PSA Groupe).
The new company, Dangote Peugeot Automobiles Nigeria Limited (DPAN), has since kicked off. Located about 25 kilometers away from the present location of the defunct PAN Limited assembly plant in Kaduna State, DPAN recently released its first set of assembled saloon cars. However, this set is unfortunately not for commercial purposes, according to a reliable source in the know. The business mogul plans to roll out the ones for sale not later than the first quarter of 2022.