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Companies - September 28, 2020

Focus on Nigeria’s oldest Companies ahead of the Country’s 60th Independence Anniversary 

Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous country and biggest economy, will be 60 years old in just a matter of days. This is a milestone anniversary, even though some Nigerians are understandably not keen about celebrating; they think there is nothing to celebrate. But there is something to celebrate after all —the fact that quite a number of Nigeria’s oldest companies are still in existence despite all the inherent challenges militating against them.

Sixty years is such a long time to be in existence, especially so for a company operating in a country like Nigeria. The uniquely harsh business environment in the country has led to the demise of thousands of businesses, many of whom did not even last more than a decade. Some companies are known to die with their founders, usually due to lack of adequate structure to ensure sustainability.

It is, therefore, something worth celebrating to know that some Nigerian companies are almost as old as the country, with some even older than sixty. We shall, therefore, be focusing on some of these companies. What is the secret to their longevity and how have they fared over the years? Most importantly, is there anything that the startups of nowadays can learn from them?

Do note that all the companies mentioned in this article are listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. We chose to focus on these companies in order to better contextualise this piece. We recognise that there are some privately-held companies that are equally just as old. We salute them!

How many Nigerian Companies Are over 50 years?

Out of all the one hundred and sixty-three (163) companies currently listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, only fifty-seven (57) are fifty years and above. The rest are below fifty years, with some as young as ten years.

The oldest companies in Nigeria

?It is important to mention that First Bank of Nigeria Limited is the oldest company in Nigeria.

?The company was established in 1894 and is reputed as the premier bank in the entire West African region.

?Today, First Bank of Nigeria is a subsidiary of FBN Holdings Plc, a holding company that is listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

? Meanwhile, because First Bank is not the entity listed on the NSE, we are only giving it the honourable mention it deserves.

Now, let’s focus on the others…

Union Bank Nigeria Plc

Union Bank is currently the oldest listed company in Nigeria, aged 103 years. It was established in 1917 as a colonial bank which was owned completely by Europeans. Through the years, the company has undergone some corporate changes, including a name change and the transfer of ownership to Nigerians, thanks to the Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Acts (1972 and 1977).

Union Bank has remained one of Nigeria’s top banks, even though it is not a tier-1 bank. In terms of profitability, the bank has been doing just okay in recent years. Its latest earnings report for the H1 period ended June 2020, showed a profit after tax of N10.7 billion.

Royal Exchange Plc

This was was incorporated on February 28th, 1921. Today, it is the oldest insurance company in Nigeria where it offers wide-ranging services such as life insurance, health insurance, general insurance, etc.

But it’s one thing to be the first in the game, and another thing to be the most successful. Much like many of the other insurance companies in Nigeria, Royal Exchange has been struggling to maintain profitability. In its unaudited 2019 financial report, the company reported a loss after tax of N215.3 million. This is even more loss than the N156.2 million loss after tax it recorded in the preceding year.

Unilever Nigeria Plc

Established on November 4th 1923, this consumer goods manufacturer is currently 97 years old. However, it has recently been having financial struggles, no thanks to drastically reduced earnings and poor profit. Business Elites Africa understands that stiff competition posed by smaller companies have been plaguing Unilever Nigeria. These smaller competitors are known to offer cheaper alternatives in the Nigeria’s fast-moving consumer goods sector.

UAC of Nigeria Plc

This company is the third oldest quoted company in Nigeria. The company was incorporated on April 22nd 1931 and is aged 89 years old. UACN is a conglomerate, specialising in various operations which range from food manufacturing to beverage, logistics, real estate, and even paint production.

Over the years, the company has gone through some structural changes and of course, experienced some challenges as well. It has also recorded some success stories along the way. Through it all, it has remained in business and does not seem to be going anywhere soon even though it recorded a N9.2 billion loss last year, according to its unaudited FY 2019 financial report.

Companies between ages 71 and 80

There are seven quoted Nigerian companies in Nigeria that are currently aged between the 71 and 80 years old. One of them is Greif Nigeria Plc. Incorporated on January 20th, 1940, the drum manufacturing company is eighty years old and struggling to survive. No thanks to the consecutive losses the company has been recording in recent times, it announced early last year that it was suspending operations in order to re-strategise its business model and find a way forward.

In the meantime, however, Greif Nigeria Plc’s shares are still listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. It surprisingly released an audited financial report for FY 2020 which, as you probably can expected, showed that it recorded a loss after tax of N312.2million.

May & Baker Nigeria Plc

This is a Nigerian drug manufacturing company that was incorporated on April 9th, 1944. The company is now 76 years old and still competing fairly well in the Nigerian pharmaceutical space. In October 2019, the drug maker reported a profit after tax of N473.6 for the third quarter period ended September 2019. The report showed that there was a 14.2% increase in profit during the period, when compared to N414.8 million during the preceding period in 2018.

Wema Bank Plc

This 75 yea-old was incorporated on May 2nd, 1945. It recently reported a profit after tax of N4.4 billion in its unaudited FY 2019 financial statement.

Nigerian Breweries Plc

This is yet another Nigerian company that has continued to exist 74 years after it was established. Incorporated on November 16th 1946, the company has been manufacturing and selling different brands of alcoholic beverages to Nigerians.

Nigerian Breweries has remained the top brewer in the country by market share, tailed by notable competitors like International Breweries Plc and Guinness Nigeria Plc. However, this market dominance does not mean that everything is perfect with the company. As we also reported, the company’s latest earnings report for H1 2020 has shown that profit after tax declined by -58.03% to N5.6 billion, down from N13.3 billion recorded during the comparable period of 2019.

PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc

This company has been operating in Nigeria since April 12th, 1948. It is now 72 years old, still in full-time business, although it has mostly been struggling to maintain profitability in recent times. The consumer goods maker had recently made effort to rebrand some of the most notable brands, but the impact of this effort is yet to reflect on the company’s financials.

The company’s unaudited report for the half year ended November 30th 2019, showed a loss after tax of N484.5 million. This losing streak has been ongoing for a while. In December last year, UK-based PZ Cussons Plc (I.e., PZ Cussons Nigeria’s parent company), attributed its slowed growth to poor performances in its key markets, especially Nigeria.

NGR Nigeria Plc

This is yet another relatively old Nigerian company that is listed on the NSE. Incorporated on December 9th, 1949, the company is aged 71. Available information indicate that the company is an ICT company which engages in the sales of computer hardware and information technology solutions. Its unaudited financial report for the period ended December 2019 show that it ran at a loss of N118.4 million.

44 quoted Nigerian companies are aged between 50 and 70 years. They are listed below:

  • UNIC Diversified Holdings Plc: Incorporated in April 1965 and aged 55 years old.
  • United Bank for Africa Plc: Incorporated February 23rd, 1961 and aged 59 years old.
  • Universal Insurance Plc: Incorporated on March 1st 1961 and aged 59 years old.
  • Vitafoam Nigeria Plc: Established in April 1962 and aged 58 years old.
  • Wapic Insurance Plc: Established in March 1958 and aged 62 years old.
  • Livestock Feeds Plc: Established in March 1963 and aged 57 years old.
  • Meyer Plc: Established in May 1960 and aged 60 years old.
  • Morison Industries Plc: Established June 29, 1955 and aged 65 years old.
  • MRS Nigeria Plc: Established in August 1969 and currently aged 51 years old.
  • Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc: Established August 30th 1957 and aged 63.
  • Nestle Nigeria Plc: Established in September 1969 and aged 51 years old.
  • Niger Insurance Plc: Established in August 1962, the company is now 58 years old.
  • Nigeria-German Chemicals Plc: Established in January 1964, it is currently 56 years old.
  • Nigeria Enamelware Plc: Established May 1960 and aged 60 years old.
  • Oando Plc: Incorporated in August 1969 and aged 51 years old.
  • Pharma-Deko Plc: Established in April 1969 and aged 51 years old.
  • RT Briscoe Plc: Established in March 1957 and aged 63 years old.
  • SCOA Nigeria Plc: Established in June 1969 and aged 51 years old.
  • Smart Products Nigeria Plc: Established in November 1966 and aged 54 years old.
  • Sterling Bank Plc: Established November 1960 and aged 60 years.
  • Studio Press Nigeria Plc: Established in July 1965, the company is aged 55 years old.
  • Thomas Wyatt Nigeria Plc: Established in March 1948, the company is aged 72
  • Total Nigeria Plc: Established in January 1956, it is currently aged 64 years.
  • Tourist Company of Nigeria: Established in October 1964, the company is now aged 56 years old.
  • 11 Plc: Incorporated in December 1951 and aged 69
  • Academy Press Plc: Established in July 1964, the company is aged 56 years old
  • African Alliance Plc: Established in May 1960, it is now aged 60 years old.
  • Afromedia Plc: Established in October 1959, the company is aged 61 years old.
  • AIICO Insurance Plc: Established in July 1970, this company is now 50 years old.
  • Arbico Plc: Established in June 1958 and aged 62 years old.
  • BOC Gases Plc: Established in December 1959 and aged 61.
  • Berger Paints Plc: Established in September 1959 and aged 61 years old.
  • Cadbury Nigeria Plc: Established January 1965, this company is now aged 55 years old.
  • CAP Plc: Established in 1957, now aged 63 years old.
  • Chellarams Plc: Established in April 1947, it is now aged 73 years old.
  • DN Tyre & Ruber Plc: Established in October 1961, the company is now 59 years old.
  • Evans Medical Plc: Established in April 1954, the company is aged 66 years old.
  • Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc: Established in September 1960, the company is now aged 60 years old.
  • Golden Guinea Breweries Plc: Established in September 1962, it is now aged 58 years old.
  • International Energy Insurance Plc: Established in March 1969, the company is aged 51.
  • John Holt Plc: Established in August 1961, the company is now 59 years old.
  • Julius Berger Nigeria Plc: Established in February 1970, the company is 50 years old now.
  • Lafarge Africa Plc: Established in February 1959, the company is 61 years old.
  • Law Union & Rock Insurance Plc: Established in June 1969 and now 51 years old.
  • Learn Africa Plc: Established in October 1961, the company is now 59 years old.

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