Former Etisalat Nigeria picks banks as it seeks investors

James Pearce
Published on:

Embattled 9mobile, the company formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria, has been given a 180-day lifeline by the Nigerian government

The Nigerian government has offered a lifeline to 9mobile, after the company, formerly Etisalat Nigeria, appointed a number of advisors to oversee the sale of the indebted telco.

The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria has given the operator just 180 days to stabilise after it failed to service its $1.2 billion loan owed to 13 Nigerian banks.

The financial troubles caused Etisalat to pull out of the country, forcing the rebrand to 9mobile, with the Nigerian Communications Commission and the CBN stepping in, citing the need to protect the company’s 20 million subscriber base and 4000+ workforce.

According to reports in Nigeria, the Federal government intervened to save the company from creditors who were determined to take control of it.

According to The News Guru, CBN governor Godwin Emefiele said: ““It is important that we do not allow any creditor who feels advantaged to take decision that affects other important stakeholders and creditors that operate within Etisalat.

“That was what the NCC and the CBN observed that the attempt by the creditors was going to lead to dismemberment of that company. We could not allow about 20 million subscribers of Etisalat to be running helter-skelter without services. And we could not allow 4000 or more staff of this company to just run in disarray because something had happened.

“That is the reason NCC supported by the CBN decided to intervene to say please gentlemen we understand your interest in this company; either you are a creditor or a service provide, let’s take things easy so we do not hurt the interest of others that also have interest in this company.”

He praised the new management board, brought into place after the crisis began last month, for overseeing activities and operations during a “tumultuous” period.

Emefiele said the new advisors have been appointed to “midwife” the process of finding a new major investor. A number of potential investors have been linked, including Virgin Mobile, Vodafone, Orange and Bharti Airtel.