Nigeria: Etisalat about to be taken over by local banks as it failed to pay debt of over $1.72billion
(Ecofin Agency) - The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has approved the takeover of Etisalat, Nigeria’s fourth largest telecoms operator, by local banks over non-payment of debt.
The telecom firm in 2015, obtained a loan facility worth N541.8billion ($1.7billion) from a consortium of banks which includes Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank and Zenith Bank. Etisalat was to use the facility to finance a major network rehabilitation project and expand its operations across the country. However, the telecoms operator failed to meet its obligations of paying back the loan since 2016, blaming the economic downturn in Nigeria.
Efforts by NCC to negotiate a peaceful resolution between the company and the banks were in vain as the banks are set to take over the firm today. According to a senior official of one of the banks, one of the options proposed to the management of Etisalat was to file for bankruptcy, as it would allow the banks to appoint a new management to oversee the firm’s operations.
Etisalat began operating in Nigeria in 2009 and is currently the fourth largest telecoms operator in the country with over 21 million subscribers at January 2017.