Hogan Lovells advises Sojitz in relation to the largest private sector gas distributor in Nigeria

Thu, 31 March 2022

London, 31 March 2022 - Hogan Lovells advises Sojitz Corporation on its purchase from Helios Investment Partners of a 25% interest in the holding company of Axxela Limited, the largest private sector gas distributor in Nigeria, a transaction which marks the start of collaboration between Sojitz and Helios in West African gas downstream businesses

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Helios Investment Partners (“Helios”), the Africa-focused private investment firm, acting on behalf of funds it advises, and Sojitz Corporation (”Sojitz”), one of the leading conglomerate investment and trading houses listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, announced today the completion of the sale by Helios of a 25% interest in the holding company of Axxela Ltd (“Axxela”), the largest private sector gas distributor in Nigeria, to Sojitz. Helios retains a 75% interest in the company.

Sojitz is a leading conglomerate whose experience spans several industries including energy (gas, LNG, renewables, power, new clean energies including hydrogen), automotive, aerospace, agriculture, chemicals, consumer goods, healthcare, infrastructure and resources. As a global energy player, Sojitz possesses deep expertise in the gas and power infrastructure sector, where it has been involved in the development of gas distribution networks, LNG terminals and power plants globally.

This transaction marks Sojitz’s first significant equity investment in Africa, indicating its growth ambitions on the continent and serving as a blueprint for future collaboration in Africa between Helios and Sojitz across a range of sectors. As like-minded shareholders, Helios and Sojitz expect to accelerate further growth of Axxela’s business by leveraging Sojitz's expertise in developing gas and power infrastructure projects and providing lower-carbon energy solutions to industrial customers globally.

Axxela is a pioneering energy infrastructure company at the forefront of delivering cleaner, cheaper and more reliable energy to industrial customers across West Africa. Its operations support the utilisation of Nigeria’s vast domestic gas resource to drive industrial growth while also facilitating fuel switching by industries to gas, reducing CO2, Nitric Oxide and Sulfur Oxide emissions, which enables the transition to a lower carbon economy. Axxela enabled its customers to reduce their CO2 emissions by 1.7 million tonnes between 2018 and 2020 by switching their energy supply from diesel or Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) to gas and will expand such contribution to reduce CO2 emissions through the growth of its business.

The Hogan Lovells team was led by London-based corporate M&A partner and Co-Head of the Energy and Natural Resources industry sector group Sarah Shaw supported by London-based oil and gas partner Ben Sulaiman, senior associate Charles Jemmett and associate Gaspare Chirillo as well as Japan based Sojitz client relationship partner Jacky Scanlan-Dyas. Support was also provided by lawyers in Hogan Lovells’ Amsterdam office and by Nigerian law firm Templars. 

Commenting on the transaction, Sarah Shaw said: “We are delighted to have partnered with Sojitz on this ground-breaking transaction which demonstrates the strength of our expertise advising on complex cross-border M&A transactions in the energy transition space as well as the depth of our Africa practice."

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