Etisalat Nigeria Debt | Mudadala, Etisalat of UAE ‘have not pulled out’

Etisalat Nigeria Debt | Mudadala, Etisalat of UAE ‘have not pulled out’

Etisalat Nigeria Debt | Mudadala, Etisalat of UAE ‘have not pulled out’

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Etisalat Nigeria has told Technology Times that Mubadala Development Company and Etisalat, two of its shareholders from United Arab Emirates (UAE), have not opted out of debt renegotiation with creditors of the mobile phone company in Nigeria.

Ibrahim Dikko, Vice President, Regulatory & Corporate Affairs, Etisalat Nigeria told Technology Times that the foreign partners are still involved, to counter speculations that its two foreign shareholders have pulled out of debt renegotiation talks underway with creditors banks in the country.

Etisalat Nigeria, the number four mobile phone company by subscriber base, is jointly-owned by Etisalat, the UEA mobile phone group (40%); Mubadala Development Company, the state-owned investment vehicle of the government of Abu Dhabi, in UAE (30%) and Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS) (30%), promoted by Nigerian businessman, Hakeem Belo-Osagie, who doubles as Chairman of the mobile phone company.

Etisalat Nigeria is in talks with the creditor banks to stave off the takeover of the mobile phone company amid loans reportedly totalling N541.8 billion owed them, according to Premium Times.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecoms industry regulator and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the banking regulators have also intervened to broker talks between the two parties following threats by the banks to take over Etisalat Nigeria.

Etisalat Nigeria, the number four mobile phone company by subscriber base, is jointly-owned by Etisalat, the UEA mobile phone group (40%); Mubadala Development Company, the state-owned investment vehicle of the government of Abu Dhabi, in UAE (30%) and Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS) (30%), promoted by Nigerian businessman, Hakeem Belo-Osagie, who doubles as Chairman of the mobile phone company.

Hakeem Belo-Osagie
Hakeem Belo-Osagie, Chairman of Etisalat Nigeria

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Mubadala, one of the shareholders, which sent in Waleed al-Muhain, Deputy CEO at the company to Nigeria to meet with the banks was alleged to have offered 5% equity in the mobile phone business in consideration of the debts owed the banks, rather than outright cash payment, a source told Technology Times. The banks were alleged to have rejected the offer.

However, Dikko who denied knowledge of such an offer by the mobile company’s shareholders confirmed to Technology Times that negotiations were still ongoing “back and forth” between Etisalat Nigeria and the banks.

“What I can confirm to you is that discussions are ongoing and I cannot comment further on the specifics”, according to Dikko.

He also denied knowledge of speculations that Globacom, the Second Nation Operator (SNO) and Etisalat Nigeria have opened discussions that may pave way for acquisition of the latter by its rival telecoms industry player.

“I am not aware of any discussions with Glo”, Dikko also said in the interview while reacting to claims that the two companies may have opened acquisition talks.

Etisalat Nigeria, the last entrant among the Big Four GSM networks in Nigeria, rank number four by subscriber base with 19,621,806 active lines representing 12.91% of the market segment at Q1 2017, according to NCC figures. MTN Nigeria, with 60,391,959, accounted for 40.00%; Globacom with 37,328,827, accounted for 24.60% and 34,656,605 accounted for 22.80%, within the same period.

EMTS, the privately-owned Nigerian company behind Etisalat Nigeria is in partnership with Mubadala and Etisalat of UAE, after it acquired the unified access licence from the Federal Government in January 2007, which includes a mobile licence and spectrum in the GSM 1800 and 900 MHZ bands.

UAE’s Etisalat later acquired a 40% stake in EMTS and was subsequently made the operator of the unified access licence and the Nigerian phone business.

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Kolade Akinola Technology Journalist at Technology Times Mobile: + 234 (0) 807 401 6027

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