Michael Orimobi, is the Global Chairman and Managing Partner of the Nigerian office of Tokunbo Orimobi Legal Group, a global law firm listed with the International Financial Law Review (IFLR1000) as one of the world’s leading financial law firms and has the status of a “Recommended Firm” with the IFLR1000 with presence in Africa, Europe and America. In this e-Interview, Michael speaks with Alaba Ayinuola, on the firm’s 40th Anniversary, running a global law firm, accomplishments, diversity and inclusion, predictions for 2019 amongst others . Excerpts.
“I am extremely grateful that all our plans to be Nigeria’s first international legal practice are unfolding.”
Q: Tell us about the history and heritage of Tokunbo Orimobi Legal Group, and how the firm has evolved?
A: Tokunbo Orimobi was established on January 12, 1979. The firm will be 40 years this week. From a small boutique law firm in Mainland Lagos founded by my late father – Mr. Tokunbo Orimobi – in 1979, the firm has grown into a full service commercial law firm with 8 offices in 5 countries today. Our total staff strength as at today is circa 50 persons globally.
Q: Few days from now, your firm will be celebrating her 40th Anniversary. How do you feel and what thoughts and emotions come to mind?
A: It is not very often you see any business survive four decades. God has been very faithful and we thank God for His mercies and grace. It has been an interesting and exciting journey for the firm. We had a vision and we stuck to that vision. I am extremely grateful that all our plans to be Nigeria’s first international legal practice are unfolding. I am happy, elated, ecstatic and proud of what we have achieved as a law firm.
Q: With offices in Africa, Europe, and America, what are some of the challenges in running a global business, and how are you leveraging opportunities?
A: Growth and expansion are very good and exciting concepts but they need to be managed wisely. Ambition coupled with Wisdom leads to Sustainable Growth and Development. If one of these traits is present and the other absent, then you might have a problem. One of the major challenges of running a global business is that you have liabilities in multiple currencies thus; the movements in currencies become quite important to your cash flow. Also, having a global business means you are having to deal with the laws, rules and regulations of different jurisdictions. With offices in five countries, we are gradually becoming a global one-stop shop for bespoke legal advisory services. Clients have started engaging us for multi-jurisdictional retainers and for solutions to their legal problems in multiple countries.
Q: What are the biggest accomplishments since inception in 1979?
A: We became Nigeria’s first international legal practice with offices in Abuja, Ibadan, Lagos, London, New York, Port Harcourt, Port Louis and Pretoria. We grew in size with circa 30 people in Nigeria and circa 50 people globally. We have made a profit as a business every year since inception with a growth of at least 10% in gross income annually. Quality clientele has increased over the last few years with over 200 active clients globally.
Q: Where does your firm stand regarding diversity and inclusion, specifically female partners?
A: We are committed as a business to diversity, equality and parity. As at today, I believe we have more female employees and most of our heads of departments are female. They are very committed and less distracted with the vicissitudes of life than their male counterparts. We have had a female partner in the firm in the past and currently have a female partner in our Mauritius Office. I look forward to having more female partners in our offices globally and even as members of the executives in our Global Executive Committee.
Q: What is the future for your firm and in what ways are you expecting growth?
A: We are constantly expanding and growing and we look forward to having 10 offices by the end of 2019. Our plan is to be a global one-stop shop for our clients. When you come to us, you have access to our multiple offices, our partners and other fee earners globally. “Global” is the new currency of law practice and we are happy to be the mastermind of this new style of legal practice in Nigeria. We have also set up a foundation with which we would run our various CSR projects. We have benefited a lot from the society and we are definitely giving back in full scale. I intend to transition from the law firm and run the foundation full time in a few years from now.
Q: Tell us your leadership style and the best piece of leadership advice you have received?
A: Tokunbo Orimobi is a knowledge bank. You come in, you learn and you are free to use the knowledge in whatever manner you want to use it. I love to train my staff, expand their legal knowledge and make them complete entrepreneurs. Our lawyers get exposed to administrative matters like business development, branding, budget, finance etc. This is the way I run the business. If you are open minded, you come in as a greenhorn and if you decide to leave the firm, you leave as an full-fledged entrepreneur. We might not be the wealthiest law firm in town, but we are certainly one of the smartest business lawyers in town.
Q: How do you feel as an African Entrepreneur?
A: Exciting times ahead for Africa. Africa is already becoming the toast of global investors. Africa is a territory of high risks and high rewards. I love taking calculated risks hence my penchant for making Africa the launchpad for all my businesses. Over the years, I have transitioned from being a commercial lawyer to being an investor with interests in various sectors of the African economy – banking, financial services, manufacturing, agriculture, commodities etc. I also sit on the Board of a decent number of African and Global businesses. This is why I love being a lawyer, it is a veritable spring board to do absolutely anything legal and beneficial. I started my career as an investment banker and this has helped a lot in transitioning me into an emerging face of Corporate Nigeria.
Q: What are your predictions for 2019?
A: As a capital markets and finance lawyer in Nigeria, I will focus my answer on the fiscal and economic matters.
Fiscal policy should loosen up in Q1 2019 due to scheduled elections in Nigeria; possibly another round of devaluation also in 2019. Due to increased spending from elections, there would be inflation which would increase the yield on bonds and thus bond prices would fall.
Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and Services sectors should drive growth in 2019 as we expect some increase in disposable income and consumer spending.
Most likely, investors would be in a holding pattern trying to see what happens with the scheduled elections in Nigeria. We are hoping that the government focuses on the economy this time around rather than on only corruption. We have a massive budget we need to fund and it is time to think out of the box.
For investors with “long-term money” this is the time to raid the equities market. Most stocks are trading below book value and stock fundamentals remain resilient.
Africa Business forum holds in Ethiopia
Heads of states, top officers of governments and African leaders and representatives of African Union and United Nations will converge at the inaugural Africa Business: Health Forum (AB:HF).
The forum would take place in Ethiopia on 12th February 2019 on the margins of the 32nd African Union Summit.
The Forum will unify Africa’s key decision makers in exploring opportunities for catalyzing growth in the continent’s economy, through business partnerships to invest in the health sector.
The inter-relationship between the health of employees and economic growth is increasingly taking center stage in many African countries, and business is being pushed to exploring how to maximize shareholder value as a complex interplay between financial, human, social and environmental return.
African business entrepreneurs are waking up to the reality that good health is good business, and investing in health is both a business and social imperative, with studies showing that by 2030, business opportunities in the health and wellness sector will reach $1.8 trillion in current prices.
Investing in African health systems is an opportunity to accelerate economic development and growth, contribute to saving millions of lives, prevent life-long disabilities, and move countries closer to achieving SDGs and Africa’s Agenda 2063.
“From a business standpoint, we are beginning to see the opportunities that could be created by focusing on improving and investing in health,” says Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, a renowned financier and Co- Chair, GBCHealth.
“There is a need to close the gap on the inequality of life in Africa from a healthcare standpoint and we must look to develop a universal plan that shifts the needle as far as healthcare in Africa is concerned. Health must cease being a source of pain, and become a source of prosperity instead.”
The AB:HF is the vision of GBCHealth, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and the Aliko Dangote Foundation, with the objective of driving business leadership, strengthening partnerships, and facilitating investments to change the face of healthcare in Africa.
The Forum will culminate in the launch of the African Business Coalition for Health (ABCHealth), a coalition that will mobilize a core group of private sector champions through a coordinated platform to advance health outcomes and shape health systems across Africa.
ABCHealth will serve as the regional platform to unlock synergies that will contribute more directly to a healthy and prosperous Africa, enabled by collaboration and business partnerships.
Reiterating the need for business leaders to key into this vision, Aliko Dangote, Group President of Dangote Group said: “The best way to move Africa forward is for businesses to step up in health care and take bold action.
“We must work together, across industries and with governments and communities, to foster innovation and drive more strategic investments that benefit us collectively.
“The time is now for a new era of cooperation in Africa that will position its people, communities and businesses for success, now and in the future.”
“Good health is not only an outcome of, but also a foundation for, development.’’
Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, UNECA said: “The Commission will play a role in the design and implementation of policy frameworks around the financing of healthcare through Public Private Partnerships and the private sector.
“Building on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), this will also encourage regional transboundary health investments especially in the pharmaceutical sector.” NAN
Equatorial Guinea moves to support prospective entrepreneurs by cutting bureaucratic obstacles with a One-Stop Shop for business incorporation
The step is a very positive move, and a sign that Equatorial Guinea’s government is listening to international investors’ concerns
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, January 15, 2019/ — Equatorial Guinea’s one-stop shop became a reality this week, allowing investors and corporations alike to set up a business in sub-Saharan Africa’s fourth largest oil producer in only seven days.
The step is a very positive move, and a sign that Equatorial Guinea’s government is listening to international investors’ concerns over the country’s bureaucracy and regulations, which have prevented it from exploiting its full investment potential over the past few years. The one-stop shop will provide suitable information support for future entrepreneurs and enable them to start with business operations in the shortest time possible.
One-stop shop solutions allow businesses to deal with all permits and processes required to set up a business at a single counter, hence reducing bureaucracy and eliminating red tape. These have been gradually implemented across the world and Africa, resulting in increased local and foreign investments, and promoting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) growth.
Equatorial Guinea’s step is expected to be very positive for business and puts the country at par with its regional and global competitors. It further signals the country’s political will to reform, and echoes President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s commitment to see the National Economic Development Plan: Horizon 2020 being fully implemented.
“Our clients are excited about this. As a firm, we work to encourage investment into the country, ensure investors can have a seamless transition and operate well. The one-stop shop is a welcomed and timely development as Equatorial Guinea expects billions of investments during its Year of Energy 2019 and is a crucial step towards achieving the country’s economic diversification and poverty reduction goals under its National Economic Development Plan: Horizon 2020,” declared Santiago Olo Lima, Director for Equatorial Guinea at Centurion.
Equatorial Guinea has doubled efforts to reach out to the international community and boost its attractiveness to investors in recent years. The country joined the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2017, and is now spearheading the LNG 2 Africa initiative, which seeks to create new markets for Africa’s natural gas. “This is an exciting time to be looking at Equatorial Guinea and Centurion is well-positioned to assist investors navigating the country’s energy sector,” added NJ Ayuk, CEO of Centurion.
Under its Year of Energy 2019, Equatorial Guinea is also hosting the APPO Cape VII Congress & Exhibition between April 1-5, and the 5thSummit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum in November. In addition, the 3rdNational Economic Conference is also set to be held this year in Equatorial Guinea. These events are expected to attract billions of investments into the country’s energy and infrastructure sectors.
SOURCE: Centurion Law Group
Jumoke Oduwole, Ayo Babatunde, Okey Nwuke, Sonnie Ayere, Adia Sowho attend Tokunbo Orimobi’s Doing Business in Nigeria Series
Distinguished business leaders and professionals in Nigeria gathered together at the Doing Business in Nigeria Series on Saturday 12th January at the Radisson Anchorage Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos. The event which was part of the week-long 40th anniversary celebration of the global law firm, Tokunbo Orimobi, was an opportunity for panelists and guests to discuss Nigeria’s economic outlook in 2019.
In his welcome address at the event, Mr Michael Orimobi, Global Chairman of TokunboOrimobi, remarked: “40 years ago, we started this journey as a very small business in Surulere. We started with a team of just 2-3 persons. Today, we are a global business with eight offices in five countries, and at least a staff of 50 persons globally.We have also become the only and the first truly international legal practice out of Nigeria. We’ve shown people what Nigerians can do and we’ve been the only law firm in Nigeria that has real presence out of this country.”
Giving a speech during the event, Keynote Speaker, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on Industry, Trade and Investment, emphasized efforts the government has made in creating an enabling environment to do business with ease in Nigeria. “The mandate of the Presidential Enabling Business Council (PEBEC) is to remove bureaucratic bottle necks and to fix the perception of the business climate in Nigeria.A lot of hard work continues to go on and we don’t intend to have a wasted year in 2019,” she said.
A key highlight of the event was the panel discussion including, Mr. Sonnie Ayere, Managing Director, Dunn Loren Merrifield, Dr.Okey Nwuke, Group Managing Director, Coscharis Group, Mr. Ayo Babatunde, Managing Director, SunTrust Bank and Ms. Adia Sowho, Managing Director, Mines.IO Nigeria Limited. The panelists encouraged guests to have an optimistic outlook towards the growth of the Nigerian economy in 2019 and further urged businesses not to view the forthcoming elections with apprehension.
The Doing Business in Nigeria Series came to a close with the cutting of the Anniversary cake and the closing remarks from Mr Michael Orimobi.
More event pictures..
Cross section of participants
Tokunbo Orimobi Partners
Michael Orimobi, Dr Okey Nwuke and Adia Sowho
Dr Okey Nwuke, Sonnie Ayere, Adedoyin Jaiyesimi, Adia Sowho and Ayo Babatunde
MC: Deyemi Okanlawo
Cutting of the anniversary
For more information about Tokunbo Orimobi, please visit https://tolegalgroup.com/.
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