There are strong indications emerging that about 3 prominent Nigerian Banks are about to take over telecom firm Etisalat Nigeria today (Wednesday), March 7, 2017.
According to Premium Times, in spite of the intervention by the Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC, to allow for a peaceful resolution between Etisalat Nigeria and the banks – Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank and Zenith Bank – it appears the effort may not have yielded a truce.
It is understood that the consortium of some foreign and the Nigerian banks have been on a legal battle with the mobile telephone operator over a loan facility totalling $1.72 billion (about N541.8 billion) obtained in 2015.
It was gathered that the loan, which involved a foreign-backed guaranty bond, was for Etisalat to finance a major network rehabilitation and expansion of its operational base in Nigeria.
Due to the inability of the telecom firm to meet its debt servicing schedule agreed since 2016, the three Nigerian banks, prodded by their foreign partners, reported Etisalat to banking sector regulator, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and its communications sector counterpart, the NCC.
While Etisalat faulted its inability to honour its obligation to the banks on the current economic recession in Nigeria, 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.
Etisalat is Nigeria’s fourth largest telecoms operator, with about 21 million subscribers as at January 2017, according to the NCC. It commenced business in Nigeria in 2009.