Robert Maersk Uggla Met Tinubu Over The Weekend, But No New Investment Deal Was Signed

Nigerian president Bola Tinubu claims to have secured an investment of $600m from Danish shipping and logistics giant Maersk, but that appears to be news to Maersk

A $600m investment into Nigeria’s port sector from Maersk, announced personally by the West African state’s president Bola Tinubu on Sunday, appears to be less solid than the government initially claimed.

Despite a presidential statement from Tinubu detailing how he had secured the purported investment during a World Economic Forum meeting in Riyadh over the weekend, Maersk officials have confirmed that no such agreement is in place and no deals have been signed.

The Nigerian government statement detailed how A.P Moller-Maersk chairman Robert Maersk Uggla had discussed the investment with president Tinubu on the sidelines of a meeting discussing energy development and growth. The statement even included a direct quote attributed to Uggla saying: “We believe in Nigeria, and we will invest $600 million in existing facilities and make the ports accommodating for bigger ships”.

But according to Maersk, that deal does not exist.

Company officials said while Uggla did meet the president, no such deal had been signed.

“Maersk has been present in Nigeria for 35 years and, as a global provider of logistics services, we remain committed to develop opportunities for growth to people, the port sector and businesses locally,” the company said in a statement to Lloyd’s List.

“Therefore, it is natural to have an ongoing dialogue with the administration. However, we are not able to comment on any investment talks.”

Maersk is due to report first-quarter results on Thursday, meaning that management are in a regulatory quiet period limiting what they can say publicly about the company’s activities.

Nigeria has promised to revamp its ports, including in the commercial capital Lagos, to ease congestion.

Tinubu’s statement explained that his government would support the modernisation and automation of its ports to improve trade, reduce corruption and boost efficiency. He claimed that the purported Maersk investment would “complement the administration’s ongoing $1bn investment in seaport reconstruction across the eastern and western seaports of Nigeria”.

“A bet on Nigeria is a winning bet. It is also a bet that rewards beyond what is obtainable elsewhere,” he said. “We need to encourage more opportunities for revenue expansion and minimise trans-shipments from larger ships to smaller ships.”

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