On the east side of Lagos, the company that turned 20-cent packets of instant noodles into a staple of the Nigerian diet is building the biggest port in west Africa with $1bn of Chinese money.
Singapore-based Tolaram Group is set to close financing this week for what could be the busiest port in west Africa, a project it said would help transform Africa’s largest economy. It is also the biggest development Tolaram has ever undertaken, and a long way from its roots as a textile trader founded by Indians in Indonesia in the 1940s.
It is being built on the back of a $450m annual business that has turned Indomie noodles into one of Nigeria’s national dishes and Tolaram into the largest food company in Africa’s biggest market, surpassing the likes of Unilever and Nestlé.
“This is a real game changer for us, doing project financing of this scale . . . It’s easy to raise money for a factory — you need $30m, $50m. But you want to raise $800m? That’s a whole different ballgame,” said Haresh Vaswani, Tolaram’s managing director for Africa and grandson of its founder.
The new port will be financed with $630m from the China Development Bank, and $470m in equity from the state-owned China Harbour Engineering Company, which has a 52.5 per cent stake and will build it. Tolaram owns 22.5 per cent, the Nigerian Ports Authority has 5 per cent and Lagos state 20 per cent.
The project is a new chapter for Tolaram. Mr Vaswani’s father turned the company into an international conglomerate with textile factories in India, property interests in eastern Europe (including a luxury apartment complex in the former KGB headquarters in Tallinn), carpet manufacturing in China and a polymers plant in the UK.
Read more: FT.com