Cletus Ibeto is a Nigerian entrepreneur, manufacturer, and philanthropist. He is the founder and Chairman of Ibeto Group, the largest conglomerate in the Eastern part of Nigeria. His humanitarian gestures have lifted thousands of people from poverty and his success story is truly that of from grass to grace.
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Ibeto Cletus through Ibeto Cement Company Limited recently closed financing with a New York Private Equity Firm, Milost Global Inc. The deal is a $850 million financing of which $500 million is in equity and $350 million debt.
Background of Cletus Ibeto
Cletus Ibeto was born on the 6th of November, 1952 in Nnewi city of Anambra State, a city best known for its entrepreneurial endeavours.
Dare To Dream
Young Cletus Ibeto always dreamt of going to secondary school and looked forward to it. He even got admission into Crusader Secondary School, Isingwu Amachala, Umuahia at the age of 13. On the day he was supposed to resume school with his elder brothers; Cyril Ibeto and Louis Ibeto (who were already in secondary school), his dream of going to secondary school was shattered by his father’s decision.
The Power of a Father’s Decision
Ibeto’s father had decided that he will not have his three sons tour the path of academic learning. He felt it wise to have one of his sons learn trade which is a respected and well known path among the entrepreneurial clan of Nnewi kingdom. Since the two older sons were already in school, the onus fell on young Cletus Ibeto.
Of course as expected, Cletus did not take the news well, he employed all strategy including going on hunger strike to make his father change his mind all to no avail. He had no other choice but to accept his fate and still wearing his school uniform, he journeyed to his Master’s house in Onitsha to learn the trade of Auto Spare Parts.
Cletus Ibeto Finally Got His Education
However, Cletus Ibeto never forgot formal education, he later sat for his WASSCE at the age of 48 and got a Bachelor’s degree in Accountancy from University of Nigeria, Nsukka at the age of 54. He was subsequently honoured with a Doctor of Business Administration degree from the same University.
Entrepreneurial Journey of Cletus Ibeto
As we mentioned earlier, Cletus Ibeto was sent to learn trade. He started out as an apprentice to John Akamelu, an auto spare parts dealer in Onitsha. With sheer determination and a strong will to succeed, Ibeto successfully mastered the business.
Cletus Ibeto was with his master until 1967 when the civil war started. The tale of how he survived the civil war is a story for another day. All we can say is that he has seen better days and the challenges did not break him.
After the war, he sort ways to raise capital to still continue his business. His brother gave him a leather bag and a Biafran round neck suit which he sold along with a packet of APC tablets he picked at an evacuated hospital. The few pounds proceeds from the sale formed the initial startup capital for his business which he has translated into a multi-billion corporate empire.
The Rise of Cletus Ibeto
The first windfall for Ibeto came during the administration of president Shehu Shagari. He profited from a policy change during president Shehu Shagari Regime. There was a policy that goods could be imported without import licence but as Nigerian’s external reserves began to dry up, the government had to introduce import licence. This made importers stall to monitor the state of things in order to determine the right step to take.
Cletus Ibeto moved quickly to secure the N3 million import licence at a time a dollar sold for 68 kobo. With the licence, he imported 65 containers of vital motor parts. By the time other importers could wake up to get the licence, the government had tightened the screws and made it almost impossible for anyone to obtain the licence. Almost at the same time, Shehu Shagari’s government was toppled which made matters worse as it resulted in borders being closed.
Cletus Ibeto virtually became a monopolist for motor spare parts. He agreed that the moment was a turning point for his life and business. He was selling at almost 500% mark up and people were buying!
From that moment onwards, there was no turning back for Cletus Ibeto.
Beyond Spare Parts
Cletus Ibeto moved from an apprentice of auto spare parts to an importer of auto spare parts and automotive lead-acid batteries and plastic accessories. He was in the business of importing these items until 1987. In 1988, when he completed his factory in Nnewi, he stopped direct importation of lead-acid automotive battery and plastic motor accessories. By 1995, the company had become one of the largest auto spare parts manufacturing outfit in Nigeria.
In 2nd of October 1996, he significantly expanded his business operations by diversifying into other sectors and establishing Ibeto Petrochemicals Industries Limited. His petrochemicals industry owns one of the largest liquid facilities for petroleum products in Nigeria
His businesses cut across real estate, hospitality, cement manufacturing, agriculture and more. He is an astute investor who employs the right strategy for his business growth. He grows some organically from ground up and some inorganically through strategic mergers and acquisitions.
Companies Owned By Cletus Ibeto
1) Union Autoparts manufacturing Co. Ltd
The Company was incorporated on 2nd June 1987 and is a major player in automotive lead-acid battery manufacturing in Nigeria. The interesting thing is that the company produces locally, from its lead and aluminum smelting plant, all the lead and aluminum required for its operations. It has the capacity to produce, annually; 300,000units of lead/acid batteries, 120,000 units of sealed maintenance-free batteries, 5,500tonnes of lead, 500 tonnes of accessories and 1,500 tonnes of friction parts according to ibeto.com.
2) Ibeto Petrochemical Industries Ltd
The company was established in October 2nd 1996 with a blending plant in Nnewi, Anambra State. They blend oil lubricants and produce various types of petroleum products for local and international markets. The company also owns one of the largest liquid storage facilities for petroleum products in Nigeria with a capacity of over 60,000 metric tones located at Apapa Wharf and Ibru Jetty Complex, Lagos.
3) Ibeto Cement Company Ltd
Ibeto Cement Company Ltd produces bagged cements at its bagging terminal at Bundu Ama, Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The group commenced the business in 1997 with the importation of bagged cement from Portland before establishing Ibeto Cement in 2001. In May 2018, Ibeto Cement Company Limited announced a reverse merger with Century Petroleum Corporation, a United States (U.S.) publicly-traded petroleum exploration and production company in a move to enter global markets and bypass the complex process of listing. Ibeto acquired a 70% controlling stake of the company and Cletus Ibeto was subsequently made the Chairman of the Board of Directors
4) Eastern Bulkcem Company Ltd
This is a subsidiary of Ibeto Cement Company Limited and is also engaged in the business of importation of bulk cement and bagging of same in its factory premises in Rumuolumeni waterfront, Rivers State. This company also owns 60% of Nigeria Cement Company Plc (NIGERCEM), Nkalagu, Ebonyi State. NIGERCEM was very important for Ibeto; if he was to remain an importer of cement, he needed to own a cement manufacturing plant as it was the requirement. Owning NIGERCEM did not come easy as the then Ebonyi state governor, Martin Elechi was against the acquisition. Ibeto fought him head-on like a wounded lion until he had NIGERCEM secured. NIGERCEM gave him the initial stability he needed to continue in the cement business.
5) Kings’s Palace Hotels Ltd
The hotel was established in March 1985 and has become synonymous with hospitality. Kings’s Palace is located at the heart of Nnewi and has played a significant role in the economic and tourism development in Anambra State.
6) Ibeto Energy Development Ltd
The company was established on 11th April, 2008. It was a smart response to the Federal Government’s aspiration to exploit the available natural gas in the Niger Delta Region for economic development.
7) Palmex Agencies Ltd
Palmex Agencies Limited incorporated on September 1,1998 is engaged in general merchandising. The company imports and distributes commodity items like rice, sugar and fertilizer.
8) Ibeto Industries Ltd
It was incorporated in 1984 to serve the Nigerian public in their quest for colour print and photographic processing. Ibeto industries have modern printing machines that meet the need of customers and they have branches across Nigeria.
9) Odoh Holdings Ltd
This Company was founded in March 1985 and is in the business of real estate development. They own properties in prime areas of Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Onitsha and Nnewi.
10) Ibeto Hotels Ltd
Ibeto Hotel Abuja is a 100-room four-star property that was commissioned early in 2013 and the company has interest in replicating Ibeto Hotel Abuja in other major cities in Nigeria.
Philanthropic Gestures of Cletus Ibeto
Cletus Ibeto’s humanitarian gesture has lifted thousands of people out of poverty. He has also helped other top business persons from Nnewi including Innocent Chukwuma, the Chairman of Innoson Group.
Cletus Ibeto Recognitions and Awards
Officer of the Order of Niger (OON) 2008
Commander of the Order of Niger (CON) 2012
Africa’s 55 wealthiest People by Venture Capital 2014
Forbes’ Most Prominent Naira Billionaire from Nnewi 2017
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