PZ Cussons Nigeria Faces Financial Distress as Liabilities Surpass Assets Amid Currency Crisis

PZ Cussons

PZ Cussons Nigeria, a longstanding player in the Nigerian market, finds itself grappling with a significant financial challenge as its liabilities exceed its assets, plunging the company into a negative net asset position.

The company, known for household brands such as King’s Vegetable Oil and Mamador, has been severely impacted by Nigeria’s ongoing foreign exchange crisis, which has seen a drastic depreciation of the naira and a decline in overall business volumes.

According to a recent regulatory filing by the company, PZ Cussons Nigeria reported an operating loss of ₦73.8 billion for the first six months of the 2023/2024 financial year. The devaluation of the naira, coupled with a foreign exchange loss of ₦87.0 billion on foreign currency-denominated trade obligations, has exacerbated the company’s financial woes.

The situation reflects broader challenges faced by multinational corporations operating in Nigeria’s corporate landscape, where the currency crisis has prompted some companies to exit the market entirely. Rivals such as P&G and GSK made their departure last year due to substantial foreign exchange losses, while others like Unilever have been forced to adapt by sourcing local substitutes for imported raw materials.

Nigeria’s oldest and largest beer-maker, Nigerian Breweries, also reported a staggering loss of N145 billion for the year 2023, attributed in part to significant losses on foreign exchange transactions amounting to N153.3 billion.

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The relentless depreciation of the naira, which has shed approximately 70 per cent of its value against the dollar since June 2023, has further exacerbated PZ Cussons Nigeria’s financial predicament. The company’s liabilities are predominantly comprised of foreign currency-denominated borrowings from its parent company and related parties, totaling N178 billion, while its total assets stand at N154.8 billion. Consequently, the company’s shareholders’ fund has been pushed into negative territory, estimated at -N23.2 billion.

Commenting on the situation, Folorunso Adeleye, a chartered accountant and team lead internal audit and compliance at Lagos-based Superflux, highlighted the potential impact of foreign currency loans on the company’s financial health. “If they have a lot of borrowings and payables in foreign currencies, it is going to be an issue,” Adeleye stated. “If the problem is as a result of those loans, it means there is not much problem because the moment the exchange rate improves, the value of the loan will come down (in naira terms). If their revenue is poor and they have a lot of receivables, there will be problems.”

In light of these challenges, PZ Cussons is navigating the possibility of going private, with its core shareholder, PZ Cussons (Holdings) Limited, proposing to acquire minority shareholders at N24.4 billion (N23 per share). An extraordinary general meeting has been convened for March 13 to discuss the matter further.