Access Bank, others may take over Etisalat

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TELECOMS firm Etisalat Nigeria is on the verge of being taken over by its bankers following the collapse of talks on its payment of a $1.72 billion (about N541.8 billion) debt.

The lenders may take over the firm as soon as the legal requirements are met.

The eventual take-over is as a result of the inability of Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS), promoted by-one time Chairman, United Bank for Africa Hakeem Bello-Osagie, to agree with the banks on the debt restructuring plan.

However, Dutch company EMTS Holding BV, has up to June 23 to complete the transfer of 100 per cent of the telco’s shares in Etisalat to the United Capital Trustees Limited, the legal representative of the consortium of banks.

Etisalat Group, the parent company of Etisalat Nigeria, gave this indication yesterday in a letter sent to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirate (UAE).

But Etisalat Nigeria Vice President, Regulatory & Corporate Affairs, Ibrahim Dikko said discussions were ongoing. In a statement, he said: “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 nine years of operations.”

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) which, alongside the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) brokered truce between the telco and its lenders warned that the provisions of the Nigeria Communications Act must be strictly followed.

NCC spokesman Tony Ojobo, while assuring the over 21 million customers of the telco that the regulator would do its best to ensure seamless service delivery, warned that the take over of the telco must follow the letters of the law.

Ojobo said: “In view of the recent development, NCC wishes to reassure all stakeholders in the telecoms sector in particular the subscribers on the Etisalat network that the Commission will ensure that the integrity of Etisalat network is not compromised.

“Accordingly, the Commission has drawn the attention of the banks to provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003 Section 38:

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