There are strong indications that the consortium of banks being owed N541 billion by Etisalat Nigeria has no intention of taking over ownership the telecoms network.
Bloomberg had reported on 20th June, 2017 that Etisalat Group, the parent company of Etisalat Nigeria announced a filing to Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange in Abu Dhabi, UAE of its intention to pull out of their operations in Nigeria without meeting their obligations prompting all sorts of speculations.
Banking industry sources say that the action of the Etisalat Group amounts to abandoning the company’s monumental obligations in Nigeria which includes, N541 billion syndicated and bilateral loans approved by 13 Nigerian banks but which is now delinquent.
The banks are also unhappy at the Group’s action, which they feel amounts to deliberate attempt to evade paying taxes and levies due to the Federal Government of Nigeria and regulatory agencies and well as other payments to third party creditors as vendors, service providers and contractors, which is tantamount to ignoring and disregarding the commercial contracts of Nigeria.
Some media reports had indicated that the consortium led by Access Bank had moved to take over the telecoms form following the collapse of Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services, EMTS, promoted by-one time Chairman, United Bank for Africa, UBA, Hakeem Bello-Osagie, to reschedule the $1.72 billion debt.
Sources from the banks also confirmed that the consortium of banks have no intention of taking over ownership of Etisalat Nigeria. The sources confirmed that “the consortium of banks have not been involved in the ownership of Etisalat Nigeria and therefore in no position to transfer or retain any percentage of Etisalat Nigeria shares”.
Our correspondent further gathered that the facilities approved by the banks for Etisalat Nigeria fell due for payment and the company has serially defaulted on repayment. Part of the facilities have become delinquent while the sponsors and management of Etisalat Nigeria were not forthcoming with the various restructuring options proposed by the lenders.
Sources close to the banks told our correspondent that the facilities approved by the banks for Etisalat Nigeria fell due for payment and the company has serially defaulted on repayment.
“Part of the facilities have become delinquent while the sponsors and management of Etisalat Nigeria were not forthcoming with the various restructuring options proposed by the lenders,” one source with knowledge of all the discussions said.
The source, who did not want to be named because he was not authorized to speak officially on the issue, confirmed that the consortium of banks have not been involved in the ownership of Etisalat Nigeria and therefore was not in a position to transfer or retain any percentage of Etisalat Nigeria shares.
Our correspondent was reliably informed that while other operators sold their towers and utilized the entire sales proceeds to repay their loans, Etisalat Nigeria in 2014 sold its towers and did not apply the sales proceeds to repay its loan.
The telecoms firm had been under pressure to repay the loan in the wake of the dropping value of the Naira but has so far failed to either reach any agreement with the consortium or attract fresh capital injection from its parent company, the Etisalat Group.