A consortium of 13 commercial banks have approached telecommunication regulator, the Nigeria Communications Commission(NCC) with the bid to take over the management of Etisalat Nigeria, over unpaid loans extended to the telco more than two years ago, available report has shown.
According to newswatch media report, the prospective acquisition development is as a result of the hard time being faced by the the United Arab Emirate firm in settling the loan.
Also sources disclosed that Etisalat has approached the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for their intervention to prevent the takeover of the telco.
Recall that it is in the public domain that in 2013 Etisalat Nigeria signed a US$1.2 billion medium term syndicated loan facility with consortium of Nigerian Banks. And the telco said it planned to use the proceeds to refinance the existing commercial medium term debt of $650 million and continue its network rollout across Nigeria to be able to service its over 15 million subscribers.
Also recall that the loan facility includes both Naira and US dollar tranches from a consortium of commercial banks in Nigeria, namely: Zenith Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, First Bank, United Bank of Africa, Fidelity Bank, Access Bank, Ecobank, Keystone Bank, First City Monument Bank, FSDH Merchant Bank, Mainstreet Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Union Bank.
Sources said the bank executives are waiting until date, March 7,when the “cure period” (a period of time when a party that breaches a contract can remedy the breach without penalty) will end.
It was learnt that the creditor banks plan to approach the telecom industry regulator, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) “to update the Executive Vice Chairman Prof Umar Danbatta of the situation before any overture is made to possible buyers” for the company”.
But, a source close to the telco denied any plan to take over the telco explaining that its management was intact and working round the clock to offer quality services to its over 20 million customers across the country.
While confirming the Etisalat’s indebtedness, a Senior Executive of the company said the economic headwind had made the repayment a little difficult.
“Yes we raised funds from a consortium of banks about two years ago in the country. We have been making conscious efforts to repay the debts and we have indeed repaid part of it.
We are engaging with the banks, negotiating with them with a view to coming out with a method of repaying the loan, the source said.