Despite reports that Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS) also known as Etisalat Nigeria, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Telecommunications Group Company PJSC, ‘Etisalat Group’ has been taken over by a consortium of banks led by Access Bank Plc, following the collapse of efforts by the NCC to effectively mediate in the $1.2 billion debt owed by the telecommunication firm, new report has it that the banks has no intention of a takeover.
A management source at one of the banks disclosed in an exclusive chat with eBusiness Life, that there is no way the banks can run a telecom firm and that the banks are only asking for a structured repayment plan that will enable Etisalat pay off its $1.2 billion (N541 billion) debt, against the plea for a write off of a good portion of the loan based on unfavourable exchange rate from the Abu Dhabi Group.
The source further noted that the company’s plea did not rest well on the consortium of banks since the money was shareholders’ money and the Nigerian telecom company has good prospects of repaying the loan.
According to the source, “The banks have not taken over, and will not take over. Meetings are still ongoing to find a way to restructure the debt repayment, so it is erroneous to say that the banks have taken over Etisalat.”
Going further, the source noted that the telecommunication firm is rated as the best data service provider and can leverage on that to generate more income for itself.
An earlier statement signed by Etisalat Nigeria’s Vice President, Regulatory & Corporate Affairs, Ibrahim Dikko, indicated that the parent body has pulled away from the Nigerian subsidiary and has announced processes for the subsequent handover of the company’s 100 percent share to the consortium of banks.
The statement read in part: “Further to our announcement dated February 12, 2017, Emirates Telecommunications Group Company PJSC, ‘Etisalat Group’ would like to inform you that Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Limited ‘EMTS’ established in Nigeria and an associate of Etisalat Group with effective ownership of 45 per cent and 25 per cent ordinary and preference shares respectively, defaulted on a facility agreement with a syndicate of Nigerian banks (EMTS Lenders).
“Subsequently, discussions between EMTS and the EMTS Lenders did not produce an agreement on a debt restructuring plan.
“Accordingly, the company received a default and security Enforcement Notice on 9 June 2017 requesting EMTS Holding BV (EMTS BV) established in the Netherlands, and through which Etisalat Group holds its interest in the company, requiring EMTS BV to transfer 100 per cent of its shares in the company to the United Capital Trustees Limited (‘the Security Trustee’) of the EMTS Lenders by 15 June 2017.
“Subsequently the EMTS Lenders extended the deadline for the share transfer to 5.00 pm Lagos time on 23 June 2017.” The statement quoted the filing by Etisalat Group, the parent company of Etisalat Nigeria, to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirate.
The filing, with reference number Ho/GCFO/152/85, and dated June 20, 2017 signed by Etisalat Group Chief Financial Officer, Serkan Okandan, said efforts by EMTS to restructure the repayment of the syndicated loan by a consortium of banks to Etisalat Nigeria collapsed.
Dikko however assured the Nigerian company will continue to offer quality services to its subscribers and will continue to tap into the rich, creative and innovative resources within its workforce to build a stronger business upon the stable foundation it have laid in its nine years of operations in the country.
Dikko said Etisalat Nigeria had subsequently commenced its phased restructuring with changes to its shareholding.
An inside source at the telecommunication company is confident that the issue will be resolved amicably. According to her, there is still stability in the administration of the company as staff are still going about their duties without hitch.
While being optimistic that with new investors and management, Etisalat Nigeria will be able to repay the restructured loan, our bank source wondered what happened to the loan the company collected from the banks and what it was used for.
With the new development, it can be deduced that with the exit of the Etisalat Group and the establishment of a new management and infusion of new investors, the planned structured repayment of the loan will be agreed to by all parties and the telecom firm may become wholly indigenous.