- The crisis rocking Etisalat Nigeria took a new dimension on Monday, July 10
- The Nigerian arm of Etisalat has been directed by the Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) to stop using its brand name within the next three weeks
- ETC is the largest shareholder in the embattled firm
The Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) has directed Etisalat Nigeria to stop using its brand name within the next three weeks.
ETC, the largest shareholder in the firm, had since terminated its management agreement with its Nigerian arm.
According to The Guardian, the implication of the directive is that the new management must decide within the next 21 days on the options before it, which are either an outright sale of the company or merger with an existing operator in the country.
Etisalat, which controls 13 per cent market share in Nigeria, has had a running battle with a consortium of 13 banks since March, after it notified them of its inability to service its $1.2 billion debt in February due to the foreign exchange challenges in the country.
The firm had through its vice-president, Regulatory & Corporate Affairs, Ibrahim Dikko, three weeks ago, claimed that it had repaid 42 per cent of the loan.
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“As at today, we can categorically state that the outstanding loan sum to the consortium (of banks) stands at $227 million and N113 billion, a total of about $574 million if the naira portion is converted to U.S. Dollars. This, in essence, means almost half of the original loan of $1.2 billion, has been repaid,” Dikko told newsmen.
Etisalat had been ordered to transfer its shares to a loan trustee after the talks which brought up management changes to the Nigerian arm.
The Chief Executive of Etisalat International, Hatem Dowidar, told Reuters that all UAE shareholders of Etisalat Nigeria had exited the company and left the board and management.
He said discussions were ongoing with Etisalat Nigeria to provide technical support, adding that it could use the brand for another three-weeks before phasing it out.
His words: “(Nigerian) lenders may try to continue to operate the company until they find a buyer (or) they may merge the company with the existing players in Nigeria.
“The brand agreement in either of these two scenarios won’t be a long-term thing, so we take out the brand; in the long term Etisalat won’t be in Nigeria.”
Etisalat Nigeria has however assured Nigerians that its operations are ongoing without any hindrance.
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Meanwhile, there is a report that two telecommunication giants, Orange and Vodafone Groups, are in a race to buy 65 per cent of Etisalat Nigeria, following the pullout of its major shareholders.
Some other reports claimed that Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, might be nursing the ambition of helping the troubled telecommunications firm by buying up the shares.
Etisalat Nigeria was yet to issue a statement on the deadline on the use of the brand name as at press time.
Last week, Hakeem Bello-Osagie, chairman of Etisalat Nigeria, resigned his position from the company.
His resignation decision was said to have followed “the approval of a restructuring plan for the telecommunications firm.”
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