Etisalat Nigeria ‘faces bank takeover’

Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

Three banks will take over Etisalat Nigeria because of $1.72bn debts, says unconfirmed report in Nigerian newspaper

Etisalat’s Nigerian operation faces being taken over by three banks today because of $1.72 billion in unpaid debts, according to an unconfirmed report.

According to Premium Times, based in Abuja, Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank and Zenith Bank have reported Etisalat Nigeria to the regulator, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), and the country’s central bank.

The NCC has approved a takeover and it is expected today, says the newspaper, quoting a “top”, but unnamed, source.

Global Telecoms Business has asked executives in Etisalat group, based in the UAE, for comment. The group has made no comment on the investor relations section of its website. GTB has also asked for comment from the NCC.

Etisalat has 21 million customers in Nigeria, where it is the fourth largest mobile operator.

The two-year-old loan was for Etisalat to modernise its Nigerian network, says Premium Times. It says that the company failed to meet the repayment schedule and adds: “Etisalat blamed its inability to fulfil its obligation to the banks on the current economic recession in Nigeria.”

The NCC initially opposed a takeover by the three banks but, says Premium Times, changed its mind on Tuesday evening. The banks may put Etisalat Nigeria into receivership as a way of recovering their money.