The Sovereign Wealth Fund Team Who Will Govern Nigeria’s Savings

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The unveiling last week of the board of the Sovereign Wealth Fund by the Federal Government has rekindled hopes that oil revenue savings would be better managed for the rainy day. Festus Akanbi profiles members of the new board saddled with the responsibility of taking far-reaching decisions in respect of the fund

As the newly-constituted board of Sovereign Wealth Fund gears up for inauguration in October, investment analysts have called for an urgent development of an investment policy that will enable entrepreneurs and other economic managers to create instruments and deals that will qualify for investment by the fund.

Setting Agenda

Apparently setting the agenda for the board, the Managing Director, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, said, “I think that the first thing the newly-appointed management/board of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) should do is to set up the operational structures and processes of the fund.

They should also immediately develop an investment policy to guide the investments of the funds. Sovereign wealth funds are essentially government-run investment portfolios that buy into anything from mainstream assets such as stocks and bonds to direct foreign investment. Speaking on the constitution of the board of the fund, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said, “The establishment of an institutional foundation for the Sovereign Wealth Fund is a victory for all Nigerians and a credit to the President (Dr. Goodluck Jonathan) who assented to the bill in May last year”.

She said it also showed the determination of the Federal Government to improve the lives of Nigerians through far-sighted policies and initiatives. “We have started putting together a quality team to ensure that we realise the objectives that inspired the establishment of the SWF.

I am sure the team realises what is at stake and is ready to do the necessary work so that the country can start enjoying the benefits as soon as possible”.

The SWF Team

Mahey Rafindadi Rasheed

The Chairman of the fund, Alhaji Mahey Rafindadi Rasheed, a member of the board of First Bank Nigeria Plc, became Deputy-Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 1991 after his stint as Deputy Director of the bank between Jan 1, 1988 and July 31, 1997.

He started his career in the New Nigeria Development Company (NNDC) Kaduna as an Investment Executive (1978 – 1980) and rose to the level of Principal Investment Executive between 1983 and 1985.

Other positions he previously held included Chairman, Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Plc 2003; Member, Board of Directors, British-American Insurance Company Ltd, 1984 -1986; Member, Federal Government Budget Review Committee (1991 – 94); Federal Government Representative in Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Project, and Federal Government Representative in the Gas to Liquid (NGL) Project.

He was born in Katsina in 1951 and attended the School of Basic Studies, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria between 1973 and 1974. He later obtained B.Sc in Economics from the university between 1974 and 1977.

He also attended Harvard University, USA between 2005 – 2006 where he obtained a Master’s Degree (MPA) in Public Policy. He also holds the Edward Mason Fellow of the university in the same year. Rasheed was conferred with the National Honours Award of the Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) in December 2004.

Uche Orji

The Managing Director /Chief Executive Officer of the fund, Uche Orji, whose appointment is for a term of five years, was obviously well prepared for the task. He was previously Managing Director and Global Head of Semiconductors Equity Research and co-head of US Technology Research at UBS (a prominent global investment bank).

A semi conductor industry is a sector following fund that invests in developers, manufacturers and marketers of digital and analog chips, so as to obtain investment results that closely match those of an underlying semiconductor index.

His responsibility included managing UBS global semiconductor equity research team of 11 analysts based in Korea, Taiwan, Japan, London and the US (New York and San Francisco). He also co-managed UBS US Technology Research team of 15 analysts and associates including four managing directors and four vice-presidents.

As managing director, the 36 year-old, Orji was also saddled with the responsibility of driving UBS investment thesis for global semiconductor stocks, managing all key global indicators, in conjunction with global economists, equity sales/trading, equity derivatives research and other related sector analysts.

The SWF MD-designate also provided investment recommendations to over 100 global strategic priority accounts including hedge funds, global institutional equity funds, sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and family offices.

While calling the shots at UBS, Orji also directed coverage of 31 US Semiconductor Stocks -including Intel, AMD, Texas Instruments, Altera, Xilinx, Analog Devices, Micron, Linear Tech etc., a coverage base representing over $400 billion in market capitalisation in the US and over $500 billion globally.

He was also able to manage semiconductor investment book within the UBS Equity research investment portfolio – Alpha Preferences – a $100 million equity portfolio based on key stock recommendations.

Orji developed a proprietary 10-point investment framework for semiconductor investing encompassing earnings momentum metrics, macro metrics and proprietary equity valuation methodologies.

For this milestone, he has been ranked in the top five by both Forbes and US Institutional Investor Magazine Survey since 2008.

At JP Morgan Securities, where he worked as Managing Director, Head of European Tech/ Semiconductor Equity Research, London, UK between August 2001 and June 2006, his scope covered European Semiconductor and tech hardware stocks. He also managed a team of about 10 analysts and associates covering- software, IT services and communications equipment. Between 1998 and 2001, Orji worked with Goldman Sachs Asset Management, UK as Executive Director -Equity Portfolio Manager/ Investment Analyst.

There, he was part of a team managing two funds: the first being the $600 million global technology fund and secondly the €1.3 billion pan-European equity fund. He was also a buy side analyst covering various sectors including technology, industrial, basic materials, metals and mining, pulp and paper sectors.

He was said to have led and participated in risk management and sector allocation decisions and it is to his credit that global tech fund consistently outperformed its peers as did the pan-European equity funds, which outperformed most of the time.

Some examples of industrial companies he covered included ABB, Siemens, Philips Electronics, Nokia, Ericsson, Akzo Nobel, BASF, Bayer etc.

At the Diamond Bank Limited, Nigeria where he worked between 1993 and 1996, Orji was Acting Financial Controller with responsibility spanning asset and liability management, accounts and financial reporting as well as tax management.

He also worked at Arthur Andersen & Co, 1991-1993 as Audit Senior/Strategy Consultant. Before joining UBS, Orji worked at J.P. Morgan Securities in London, where he established the team as one of the top semiconductor teams in Institutional Investor’s “All-Europe Research Team.” He has also held top positions in the Thomson Reuters Extel Survey. wPreviously, he was an analyst and fund manager with Goldman Sachs Asset Management based in London. Before that, he worked with Diamond Bank Plc and Arthur Andersen LLP.

He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Port Harcourt.

Arnold Ekpe

Mr. Arnold Ekpe is a member of the SWF board. He was until his appointment the Group Chief Executive Officer of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, a position he has held since 2005. He is due to retire this year. Ekpe has over 26 years of African and international banking experience, having also worked in Europe, South Africa and West Africa for Citibank and First Chicago.

He was Chief Executive Officer for Ecobank Transnational, Inc. from 1996 to 2001. Ekpe joined United Bank for Africa in 2001, where he served as the Chief Executive Officer from 2002 to 2004.

He served as Vice-President and Head of Africa Trade and Corporate Finance for Sub-Sahara Africa for Citibank. He executed landmark trade and corporate finance deals in West and Southern Africa. He serves as Chairman of Dorman Long Engineering Limited. Ekpe holds degrees in Mechanical Engineering (1st class honours) and Business Administration from Manchester University and Manchester Business School respectively.

Jide Zeitlin

Another member of the board is Mr. Jide J. Zeitlin, a businessman and former Goldman Sachs investment banker and partner. He was nominated by US President Barack Obama to represent US on financial reform at the United Nations.

He was an executive at Goldman Sachs & Co and was elected a partner in 1996. He had also held a number of senior management positions in the firm’s investment banking division where he focused on industrial, consumer and healthcare industries.

He retired in 2005, having held a number of senior management positions and served in its executive office. In 2005, Zeitlin founded a company that builds and owns telecommunications infrastructure in India, and he has invested massively in private biotechnology companies globally. An active member of several educational and cultural organisations, Zeitlin serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Amherst College and is a member of the boards of Teach for America, Milton Academy, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Montefiore Medical Center, Playwrights Horizons and Common Ground Community.

He is also a member of the Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisors and is a director of two publicly-listed corporations: Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. and Coach, Inc.

Bili Awosika

Mrs. Bili Awosika, another member of the board, is the Chairman Intermarc Consulting Limited. She is a consummate business woman with many years of experience in the private sector with major interest in furniture and fittings business. She worked with Akintola Williams & Co. before establishing Qubees Limited in 1989 and The Chair Centre in 1997. Both are reputable furniture companies located on Victoria Island. Mrs. Awosika also serves on the board of other companies. She is the founder/president of Christian Missionary Fund, a non-denominational Christian non-governmental organisation with head office in Lagos.

Hassan Usman

Mr. Hassan Usman is a Chartered Accountant and an Eisenhower Fellow, with an award-winning career spanning over 18 years in finance and investment advisory and privatisation services, covering various sectors and global regions.

He is currently the Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board of Directors of ASO Savings and Loans. Prior to joining Aso Savings and Loans, Hassan served as Executive Director (Investments) at Abuja Investment and Property Development Company Ltd, the Federal Capital Territory’s premier development agency.

He has also headed key units of the Bureau of Public Enterprises including Petrochemicals and Gas, Transport Sector Reform and Telecommunications. At Citibank Nigeria, where he worked for seven years until 2000, Hassan headed the Structured and Cross-border Finance Team within its Corporate Finance Group. During this time, he helped to arrange over 500 million US Dollars worth of transactions and arranged millions more in developmental loans from multilateral institutions.

This followed stints in managing capital markets and corporate banking relationships. Prior to Citibank, he worked for three years within the financial markets division of Arthur Andersen S.C. London and before then, as research assistant in the International Economic and Monetary Relations Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria. He has served on the boards of major corporations including NITEL.

Olabisi Soyebo (SAN)

Olabisi Soyebo (SAN) attended the College of St. Elizabeth, New Jersey, United States where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in Sociology in 1985. She subsequently proceeded to the University of Buckingham, Buckingham, England, where she graduated with an LL.B (Hons) in Law in 1987. She was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1988 and has since been in active legal practice with Abdullahi Ibrahim & Co. She is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

Stella Ojekwe-Onyejeli

Mrs. Stella Ojekwe-Onyejeli was Operational Risk Head at Barclays Bank. Before Barclays, she was a Senior Manager, Arthur Andersen between 1993 and 2003. She is a graduate of Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, United Kingdom.


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