24 November 2017

Nigeria: Reps Order Probe of Etisalat Debts

Abuja — THE House of Representatives yesterday resolved to probe what led to the collapse of Etisalat and its high profile debts.

To this end, the lawmakers mandated its Committee on Telecommunications to investigate and ascertain the circumstances which led to the collapse of Etisalat Network in order to protect the interest of Nigerian subscribers.

The House expressed worry that failure of Etisalat to meet its debt servicing obligations with 13 banks since 2016 forced it's foreign shareholders out of the firm as the company was eventually taken over by the banks.

Saheed Akinade-Fijabi, Chairman of the Committee, in a motion entitled "Need to Investigate the Collapse of Etisalat Nigeria (Now 9mobile) in order to protect the interest of Nigerian Subscribers and other Stakeholders," noted that the take over was against the letters and spirit of the Nigerian Communications Act.

"The takeover of Etisalat which was renamed 9mobile by the banks is a clear violation of section 38(1) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, which provides that the grant of a licence shall be personal to the licensee and the license shall not be operated by, assigned, sub-licensed or transferred to any other party unless the prior written approval of the community has been granted," he stated.

According to the motion, Etisalat Nigeria paid almost half of the initial loan, amounting to about N504 billion with a total outstanding sum of about $574 million.

"Etisalat Nigeria obtained a loan of $1.2 billion (N377.7 billion) in 2013 from 13 Nigerian banks, with a foreign backed guaranteed bond to finance a major network rehabilitation, upgrade and expansion of its operational base in Nigeria. The company so far paid about half of the initial loan amounting to about N504 billion with a total outstanding sum of about $574million, but had reneged on its debt servicing obligations after the interventions of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC and the CBN to restructure the loan and new repayment deadline," Fijabi stated.

The company was formerly owned by three shareholders, including Emirates Telecommunications Group of Company with 40 percent shares; Mubadala Development Company, Abu Dhabi, 45 per cent; and EMTS Holding BV, 15 per cent, in the investment.


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