Friday, 23 June 2017

Consortium of banks led by Access Bank Plc and other Nigerian and foreign banks takes over Etisala

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Etisalat United Arab Emirate (otherwise called Etisalat Group), the parent company of Etisalat Nigeria, on Tuesday, notified the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange that it has pulled out of Nigeria.

Recall that earlier on Tuesday, a consortium of banks led by Access Bank Plc and other Nigerian and foreign banks, announced that they had taken over the management of Etisalat Nigeria, putting a final seal on the protracted negotiations between the firm and its creditors.

In the notification letter, Etisalat UAE informed the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange of its decision to transfer its shares in Etisalat Nigeria to the appointed security trustee of the consortium of banks led by Access Bank Plc.

Confirming the decision of Etisalat UAE to divest its shares, Chief Executive officer of Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Matthew Willsher, in a press statement made available to The Daily Times said: “Our renegotiation with the banks are not yet over, but our shareholding structure is evolving.

Recently, Etisalat UAE notified the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange of the forthcoming transfer of their shares to the appointed security trustee of the banks. The exact nature and timing of the transfer is still under discussion, but we expect the final transfer to be done in a coordinated manner”.

“Discussions are also ongoing to address the different management, technical and IP-related implications of the move, including continued use of the Etisalat brand name to trade in Nigeria.

“This was always one of many possible outcomes. The business will of course continue to operate, because any planned exit will be carried out in coordination with the banks, regulators and shareholders.

“Our immediate priority though is to ensure that there is no disruptions to day-to-day operations of the business. In spite of the changes that lie ahead, we aim to maintain continuity through our focus, capabilities, and values.

“So, we will continue to focus on the customer. Our commitment to delivering results through innovation, operational excellence and quality of service will endure. And we will also be guided by our core value of passion for excellence, integrity, One Term- One Mission, Growing our people and Empowering our people.
“The business outlook remains challenging, but our re-negotiations so far allow us to refocus our energies on the financial, operational and strategic priorities that will help".

However, the Federal Government on Tuesday waded into the controversy surrounding the takeover of Etisalat Nigeria, by a consortium of banks, led by Access Bank.

The Federal Government, in an unequivocal statement, declared that lender banks cannot take over Etisalat Nigeria, the number four mobile phone provider in the country, without regulatory approval.

The government, through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecommunications industry regulator, said that they have a few regulatory hurdles to cross.
Although NCC did not explain what the regulatory hurdles were, the consortium, led by Access Bank, and some foreign banks had insisted that they have taken over the management of the telecom’s provider.

Tony Ojobo, Director, Public Affairs, NCC, said on Tuesday that the lender banks must take note of relevant provisions of the Nigerian Communications Commission Act (NCA) 2003, as well as, the relevant provisions of the laws guiding the transfer of licences issued operators by the telecoms regulator.

Ojobo drew the attention of the lender banks to Section 38 and Sub section 1 of the NCA, which spells out that, “The grant of a licence shall be personal to the licensee, and the licence shall not be operated by, assigned, sub-licensed or transferred to another party unless the prior written approval of the commission has been granted.”

According to the Nigerian telecoms’ regulator, Sub Section 2 of the same provision equally states that, “A licencee shall, at all times, comply by the terms and condition of the licence and the provision of this act and its subsidiary legislation.
“The NCC wishes to assure the over 21 million Etisalat subscribers that it will do all within its regulatory power to ensure that Etisalat subscribers continue to enjoy the services provided by the operator,” the Commission said.
According to Ojobo, “the Commission has taken proactive steps to cushion the impact of the takeover”, adding, “This is without prejudice to the ongoing effort between Etisalat and the banks towards negotiated settlement.”

Although the NCC spokesman did not give further details of the measures that have been taken to cushion the impact on Etisalat Nigeria subscribers, but he gave a ray of assurance.
“Whilst the banks and Etisalat are working at resolving the issues, the Commission wishes to assure subscribers that they will continue to enjoy the services provided by Etisalat,” Ojobo added.

According to him, “In view of the development, NCC wishes to reassure all stakeholders in the telecommunications sector, in particular, the subscribers on the Etisalat Network, that the Commission will ensure that the integrity of Etisalat Network is not compromised.”

Earlier on Tuesday, a consortium of banks, led Access Bank Plc and other Nigerian and foreign banks, announced that they have taken over the management of Etisalat Nigeria, one of the telecommunications providers in the country, putting a final seal on the protracted negotiations between the firm and its creditors, which has, since June 15, led Etisalat to relinquish its ownership and control over the company.

Consequently, following the collapse of talks to reach agreement with the banks on debt restructuring plan in the protracted $1.72 billion (about N541.8 billion) debt impasse, the firm’s creditors ran out of patience and resolved to take possession of the company
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A.K.A. Kennyboi, A Internet Browsing Lover, The Busy Brains behind kennygist.com.ng and kennytechy.com, Knowledgeable in AutoCAD. A Graduate of Mechanical Engineering, Manufacturing Option. God Loves you all.

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