N541.8 Billion Debt: NCC, CBN Stop Takeover of Etisalat

The Nigerian Communications Commission
and the Central Bank of Nigeria have gotten a reprieve for Etisalat on
the loan default crisis facing the company.

The Director of Public Affairs of
NCC, Mr Tony Ojobo, in a statement on Saturday in Lagos, said that the
reprieve came following a meeting convened by CBN and NCC to find a
quick resolution to the crisis.
He said, “Friday’s meeting succeeded in halting the attempt by Etisalat’s creditors at bringing it under any form of takeover.
“Receivership was completely taken off the table in a meeting that was very productive and constructive.
“The meeting, which held at the CBN office in Lagos, had the consortium of banks being owed and Etisalat in attendance.
“The banks and the mobile network operator agreed to concrete actions that will bring all parties closest to a resolution.”
He said that CBN and NCC were able to
secure for Etisalat the necessary “oxygen” to enable it continue to meet
urgent operational expenses.
Ojobo said that CBN Governor, Mr Godwin
Emefiele who chaired the meeting, was firm in declaring what needed to
be done by both parties towards a quick resolution.
He said that NCC equally made it clear that everything necessary must be done to protect the 23 million Etisalat subscribers.
The director said that there was also
the need to protect the telecom industry to prevent potential investors
from developing cold feet.
According to him, effort has been made
to ensure that Etisalat remains in business while the consortium of
banks meet their obligations to their customers.
”A meeting will hold on March 16 to agree on a payment restructuring path going forward.
”The NCC will lead the CBN in a possible crucial meeting with Etisalat’s shareholders anytime soon,” he said.
On March 8, there was an attempt by a consortium of banks to take over Etisalat, because of its N541.8bn debt.
A consortium of some foreign and
Nigerian banks, including Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank and Zenith
Bank, have been having a running battle with the mobile telephone
operator, over a loan facility totalling 1.72 billion dollars (about
N541.8 billion) obtained in 2015.
The banks said their attempt to recover
the loan by all means, was fuelled by the pressure from the Asset
Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), demanding immediate cut down on
the rate of their non-performing loans.
NCC appears not to be favourably
disposed to the takeover proposal; as it believed that Etisalat is not
only a viable going concern, but also willing and able to negotiate the
servicing of its loans.
Etisalat is Nigeria’s fourth largest telecommunications operator with about 21 million subscribers as at January 2017.
It commenced business in Nigeria in 2009.
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