The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)
have stopped the takeover of Etisalat by consortium of some foreign and Nigerian banks over the loan default crisis facing the company.
The Director of Public Affairs of NCC, Tony Ojobo, said in a statement on Saturday in Lagos, that the reprieve came following a meeting convened by CBN and NCC to find a quick resolution to the crisis.
Succeeded in stopping takeover
According to him, the Friday’s meeting succeeded in stopping the attempt by Etisalat’s creditors at bringing it under ”any form of take over.”
”Receivership was completely taken off the table in a meeting that was very productive and constructive,” he said.
He disclosed that the meeting which took place at the CBN office in Lagos had the consortium of banks being owed and Etisalat in attendance.
According to him, the banks and the mobile network operator agreed to take concrete actions that would bring all parties closest to a resolution.
He said that CBN and NCC were able to secure for Etisalat the necessary “oxygen” to enable it continue to meet urgent operational expenses.
Ojobo said that CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele who chaired the meeting, was firm in declaring what needed to be done by both parties towards a quick resolution.
He added that NCC equally made it clear that everything necessary must be done to protect the 23 million Etisalat subscribers.
According to Ojobo, the two government agencies swift response to the situation was to protect the telecom industry and prevent potential investors from developing cold feet.
He stated that effort has been made to ensure that Etisalat remains in business while the consortium of banks meet their obligations to their customers.
”A meeting will hold on March 16 to agree on a payment restructuring path going forward,” he added.
Background of the case
It was reported that on March 8, there was an attempt by a consortium of banks to take over Etisalat, because of its N541.8 billion debt.
A consortium of some foreign and Nigerian banks, including Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank and Zenith Bank, have been having a running battle with the mobile telephone operator, over a loan facility totalling 1.72 billion dollars (about N541.8 billion) obtained in 2015.
The banks said their attempt to recover the loan by all means, was fuelled by the pressure from the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), demanding immediate cut down on the rate of their non-performing loans.
NCC appears not to be favourably disposed to the takeover proposal; as it believed that Etisalat is not only a viable company going forward, but also willing and able to negotiate the servicing of its loans.