According to reports from the Nigerian Communications Commission, the management of Etisalat Nigeria has finally been taken over by a consortium of Nigerian banks, led by Access Bank Plc and foreign banks.
Etisalat Nigeria’s inability to pay the debt of about N541.8 billion ($1.72 billion) coupled with the collapse of efforts by Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS) to reach an agreement with the banks on debt restructuring plan led to the takeover of the company. Mr. Ibrahim Dikko, vice president, Regulatory & Corporate Affairs, Etisalat Nigeria confirmed the development.
Etisalat has been under pressure since 2016, following the demand notice for the recovery of a N541.8 billion loan facility it obtained from a consortium of banks in 2015. The loan, which involved a foreign-backed guaranty bond, was for the mobile telephone operator to finance a major network rehabilitation and expansion of its operational base in Nigeria.
Unable to meet its debt servicing obligations agreed since 2016, the consortium, prodded by their foreign partners, threatened to take over the company and its assets across the country. However, the intervention of the telecom sector regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and its financial sector counterpart, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), succeeded in persuading the banks to rethink their threat and give Etisalat a chance to renegotiate the loan’s repayment schedule.
EMTS Holding BV, the company through which Etisalat Group holds its interest in the company has up to June 23 to complete the transfer of 100 percent of the company’s shares in Etisalat to the United Capital Trustees Limited, the legal representative of the consortium of banks.
This brings an end to Etisalat which had operated in Nigeria for 9 years.