A consortium of banks has taken over Etisalat Nigeria over the failure of the company to repay loans amounting to N541 billion.
The telecommunications company had obtained the loans from 13 banks, including Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank, Zenith Bank, UBA, Fidelity Bank and First Bank.
It took the loan to refinance an existing commercial medium-term debt of $650 million and continue its network rollout across the country.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had intervened to prevent the takeover of the company, but their efforts did not yield the desired result.
The banks were said to have opposed a proposal by Etisalat to convert part of a $1.2 billion loan from dollars to naira.
In a statement on Tuesday, Ibrahim Dikko, vice-president, regulatory and corporate affairs of the company, confirmed the development.
“Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Limited also known as Etisalat Nigeria has announced the commencement of its restructuring with changes to its shareholding. As it had earlier stated in a release, the negotiations with the consortium of lenders are considering a number of possible options,” the statement read.
“Etisalat Nigeria can confirm discussions are on-going regarding other issues such as the trading name during this transition phase. Operations and services to our subscribers remain normal and will in no way be affected as we continue to deliver quality services to our subscribers. We will continue to tap into the rich, creative and innovative resources within our workforce to build a stronger business upon the stable foundation we have laid in our 9 years of operations.
“Etisalat Nigeria wishes to express its profound gratitude to the Government, the Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria for their patriotic zeal and tireless efforts at ensuring collaborative and productive engagement.
“We are also appreciative of the tremendous support we have received from the media since inception and we count on their continued support as we transition to a stronger business. We will update our stakeholders and the public on further developments shortly.”
Etisalat is Nigeria’s fourth largest telecommunications operator. It commenced business in Nigeria in 2009.