Very few people know that Kola has a weakness for good life. In fact he has gone into the purchase of his new luxury Galactica Star Super yacht leaves not a few people overwhelmed. The founder of Fossil Resources, who has been given Swiss Citizenship, just added the Galactica Star Super yacht valued at $100million to his collection of exotic toys. And there are speculations that it is perhaps the most expensive boat owned by a black man. Measuring 65 meters long, the yacht recently won three awards at the Monaco Yacht Show – Best Yacht Design, La Belle Classic Crest and a Baccarat Crystal Sail Trophy presented by Prince Albert II of Monaco for winning the Prix du Design which is awarded for the Most Innovative, Elegant and Distinguished design at the Monaco Yacht Show, According to ThisDay.
Being successful in business is the most fascinating kind of art. And you can see in Kola Aluko’s quiet, forceful enterprise both the lush and tensile strength of his acumen and resolve. As an ambitious entrepreneur, Aluko, an energy and aviation tycoon, founded Fossil Resources in 2001 and turned it into a formidable force inside the Nigerian energy sector. Having founded Fossil Resources in 2001, he went on to become the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Exoro Energy- an indigenous oil exploration and production firm. In 2007, the company merged with Seven Energy, a leading independent oil exploration company.
Today, Aluko is Deputy CEO and a leading shareholder of Seven Energy, which has operations and key interests in four onshore fields in the Niger Delta. Aluko is also a member of the advisory board of Vista Jet, a Swiss-based private jet charter company founded by Thomas Flohr.
Kola Aluko embodies the youth who constitute the rarity of Nigerian society — a young man who excelled and became an aviation and energy tycoon. But, unlike many of his generation, he advocates hope knowing that things could change in a society which culture of fear has permeated for decades.
Over the past few years, Aluko began working outside the box to make his peers understand that only their unstoppable people’s power could effect real change. He projects a manic self-confidence in public. He still has his edge: prosperity hasn’t robbed him of his disrespect for conventional wisdom, his spooky ability to see around corners, and his feral determination to make perfect products at all costs. All in all, success becomes him.
A passionate car racing enthusiast, Aluko has competed in major European races with the Swiss team Kessel racing. In June 2012, he reportedly purchased two ultra-modern luxury estates in Beverly Hills at $40 million. In December 2012, this Nigerian businessman stepped on to the podium at Rome’s Vallelunga circuit to celebrate third place in the Endurance Champions Cup. It was a defining moment in his motor racing career as he stood next to one of his idols, former F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella. The race at Vallelunga was the fourth and final race of the Cup which was won by Fisichella and Italy’s AF Corse. Aluko’s Kessel Racing team, with co-pilots Thomas Kemenater and Maurizio Mediani, were consistent throughout the six-hour race which is as much a feat of endurance as of skill.
Aluko is one of a handful of black racing drivers driving change in the perceptions of a traditionally white and Asian sport. He is on the board of the Nigeria FIA and recently hosted FIA President Jean Todt as he made a two day visit to Nigeria to look at the possibility of bringing motor racing to the country.
It is as much as a result of his adventurous spirit that he perpetually seeks to initiate new socio-economic trends in the country. For instance, Aluko believes that African manufacturing industries will soon be in a position to compete with major global suppliers to the sport.
“We’ve already seen multinationals in other industries moving manufacturing operations from China to Africa, and I think that’s a trend that’s likely to continue as factory wages continue to rise throughout many parts of Asia,” he says.
Aluko’s love of cars and racing was ingrained from an early age and has dominated the way he has approached both his businesses and his hobby.
“When you are in a race car you can’t think of anything else,” he says, adding, “On a race track, the difference between you and the next best driver is 0.5 seconds. So, you can imagine how precise you have to be. Driving is very technical and your mind is 100% focused on the task.”
Aluko owns Kessel Racing’s Ferrari 458 GT2 and has previously competed in the Winter Series GT Open in Montmelo Catalonia, Spain. “It is a way to take my mind off everything else,” he says.
“These days it is not so dangerous, unless you have a big shunt at high speed. There are a lot of passive safety features on the track and the cars and in fact I don’t drive quickly on ordinary roads as I know that road cars are not as safe. They only have single point seat belts that don’t restrain you as well, and the raw cages in the cars are not as sturdy. The windows are glass – all the inherent things that make a car not safe are more apparent to me because I drive on the racetrack. There are so many unpredictable factors on the road, but on the track, most drivers are my standard. On the road the guy who got his licence yesterday is on the road with you.”
Aluko has had one major crash in a race car, but he walked away with just a mild concussion. “It made me a bit slower,” he laughs as he admits he finds racing exhilarating.
While a lot of people choose to play chess to hone their wit and intuitive abilities, Aluko opts for the danger and thrill of race cars. Racing to him, he explains, is “like a fast version of living and it is mentally challenging. Everything in life you can apply to racing – strategy, skill, preparation. On a race weekend, I prepare every corner mentally. You have to memorise the track within one practice session. When I first started, I was racing against people who had raced it before and I couldn’t just cruise round!”
To prepare, he watches videos and plays console games modeled around the circuits or racetracks. “When you are driving you have to push the limits without going over the limits, because they are long races – Abu Dhabi 12 hours, Villalonga six hours. I have three other drivers and we do two-hour stints. They design the track to challenge your skills as much as possible.”
He currently races out of his base in Lugano Switzerland, where Kessel Racing is also located. There he stores his collection of race cars and classic cars. They include classic cars from the 1960s like a California Spider and a 250 Luso, a Ferrari Dino and others like the Aston Martin DB5, thoroughbred Ferraris like the 2GO, the F40, the F50 and the Enzo.
“Obviously I can’t drive all the cars but the guys who look after them are professionals,” he says.
“My cars are my passion and an investment, mostly they go up in value but I do drive them. The Maserati MC12 racing car was one of only nine built and has won championships in the past. I have the F1 car from 2008 driven by Kimi Raikonnen and tested by Michael Schumacher, a Goldwing SL from the 60s. They are better investments than a lot of other things,” he explains.
But it’s not enough for Aluko to push the boundaries in racing. He takes the lessons he learns and applies them to his global business interests which range from energy to private aviation to his Made In Africa Foundation that funds feasibility studies for major infrastructure projects.
“If you look inwards and try to focus on the best you can do; if you are the sort of person who always challenges himself, then you are so far ahead of others and the game. You can only do as best as you can. That is something I have got from racing,” he says.
His name is a door opener around the world. Imagine a ‘lifestyle institution’ like ‘Harrods’ speaking ones name with a smile on their lips, ever ready to acknowledge he shops at their store. We hear he is one of the ‘biggest spenders’ in Harrods. Imagine the top manager of a Ferrari franchise asking in curiosity how special is the name ‘Kola’, because one of their special friends/customer is Kola Aluko. Another ‘Kola’, not him, had gone to buy a Ferrari, eliciting the curiosity. For one to better appreciate how legendary the guy’s car collection is, we heard a special coffee table book was published to celebrate those cars, just like it was done for Ralph Lauren’s cars collection.
Aluko’s love of cars transcends the trope of obsession or ordinary fleeting fascination. His vehicles’ garages in his palatial mansions across the world stock the best of state of the art automobiles. He is also an avid Formula 1 enthusiast; some say he has over 20 plus racing cars for his own F1 Team. Besides cars, the Nigerian energy and aviation tycoon betrays a love for expensive timepieces. Sources close to him claim that his wrist watch collection is to die for; he has a particular one that cost him a whooping $1 million.
The highflying entrepreneur believes that the home depicts the quality of soul possessed by a man, hence his acquisition of choice apartments and mansions in the most highbrow areas across the world. He owns expensive and tastefully furnished homes in the most exotic locations including Monaco, Spain, Los Angeles, New York in United States of America, London, United Kingdom to mention a few. His home in New York, USA is said to be located at one of the most luxurious and most expensive flats in the world with a super spectacular view. The one at LA mansions in Beverly Hills, is said to be on a hill all by itself and it is padded by the best of designer home stuff one can imagine. The apartment cost him about $40 million.