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N541.8b Debt: Three Banks Set To Take Over Etisalat

Despite the intervention of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), to broker a peaceful resolution between Etisalat Nigeria and a consortium of banks, it appears the effort may not have yielded a truce, as the banks are set to take over the telecoms firm today (Wednesday).

The consortium of some foreign and Nigerian banks, including Access Bank and Zenith Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) have been having a running battle with the mobile telephone operator over a loan facility totalling $1.72 billion (about N541.8 billion) obtained in 2015.

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.

However, following the failure of the coy to meet its debt servicing schedule agreed since 2016, the 3 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.

Although Etisalat blamed its inability to fulfil 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.

A top source at the NCC said late Tuesday that the commission had approved the takeover, which is expected to occur today (Wednesday).



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