Interim management has take over at troubled Etisalat Nigeria on Monday following an agreement with the consortium of its creditors.
The telcom, with 21 million subscribers, owes the banks N541 billion.
Mubadala Group, the major investor from the United Arab Emirates, has pulled out of Nigeria’s fourth largest mobile operator while its chairman, osagie had stepped down
The chief executive officer, Matthew Willsher, and the chief financial officer, Olawole Obasunloye, have stepped down.
“The transition was successful. Everybody is back at their duty post and the lights are back on,” a senior official of the telco informed .
The transition agreement was brokered with the banks by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
NCC has warned the creditors that the licence is not transferable, effectively stopping the banks from taking ownership of the company.
An official announcement on the interim management team is expected to be made by the company on Monday.
Orange and Vodafone Group are in “strong running” to buy 65 per cent of Etisalat Nigeria following Etisalat’s exit from the troubled operator, according to local sources.
According to Brandish, “no fewer than five” companies have expressed interest in Etisalat Nigeria, although the two international telco giants have shown “concrete interest”. The potential hurdle, the report said, was the restructuring of the debt which caused the current uncertainty for the business.
The report also said the negotiators for Etisalat Nigeria – including representatives of its bankers and Nigerian regulators – are working to “mitigate any collateral damage and brand erosion” which could impact the new owners. Either way, a rebranding is likely to be an early priority for Orange or Vodafone if they become the successful owner, to shift away from the Etisalat name.
After the Nigerian business defaulted on its loan repayments, Etisalat was required to transfer its holding in the company to a consortium of lenders to the Nigerian operation.
UAE investment fund Mubdala is also out, leaving Etisalat Nigeria in the hands of local banks.