For ex-banker turned investor, billionaire Hakeem Belo-Osagie, his has been a life marked by peaks and valleys. A gentleman but brusque when it comes to taking corporate decisions. With smashing successes and slew of failures, Keem’s life could be described as dotted by controversies and some less glamourous experiences. Recent unpleasant developments in his investments have further shifted attention to his managerial styles, work ethics and self discipline, which in the final analysis are considered utmost.
Not many would forget in a hurry what happened to the old UBA under his watch. Keem’s corporate troubles began in March 2004 when he was ousted by the Central Bank of Nigeria as chairman of UBA and his vice-chairman, Mallam Abba Kyari, present Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari sequel to allegations of fraud against some directors on the bank’s board. That directive created a rumpus and on the long run, he was forced out of the bank which controlling shares he acquired in 1998. The bank was later bought over by the erstwhile “financial underling” Standard Trust Bank (STB) led by Tony Elumelu.
Currently, the stories emanating from the telecom company, Etisalat is not too pleasant. Last Friday, Keem also had to throw in the towel as chairman of his flagship investment vehicle, Etisalat Nigeria, where he has a sumptuous stake as the promoter of Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services, EMTS, which has 15 per cent of the equity holding of the company. A statement by the troubled telcom said Keem’s decision to quit followed the approval of a restructuring plan mapped out for the firm.
Asides luck and his intimidating educational background in Oxford and Harvard, the candid, self-effacing Keem had never shied away from laying bare his failures and accomplishments.
In spite of the current challenges, Keem still wields enormous influence and has significant stake in many blue-chip companies.
Edo State-born Keem is the son of Professor Tiamiyu Belo-Osagie, a renowned gynecologist who catered to the medical needs of the high and mighty including the family of former Nigerian military president Ibrahim Babangida. Through that connection, Keem was secured a job as Special Assistant to the Presidential Adviser on Petroleum and Energy and later as Special Assistant to the Minister of Petroleum and Energy, late Alhaji Rilwan Lukmon. The appointments, he admits put him in the position to close in on a few oil deals from which he made his first fortune. He also owns First Securities Discount House, a money market and Treasury bill trading and financial services firm in Nigeria. Keem is also one of the sponsors of the new $120 million shopping mall in Jabi Lake in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
In spite of his wealth, Keem, once listed by Forbes in 2014 as one of Africa’s richest men does not flaunt his riches. His modest way of life is such that he rarely socializes. Keem’s humility is evident as visitors (regardless of their status) to his palatial mansion in Ikoyi, Lagos, receives personal attention by this somewhat ascetic billionaire.
Credit Sun news Ng