$1.2bn: Etisalat gets new Chairman, CEO

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Embattled Etisalat Nigeria and its creditors have reached a resolution on key issues on the indebtedness with transition process ongoing on mutually agreed terms, National Daily has gathered.

According to the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Etisalat Nigeria has appointed Central Bank’s deputy governor, Joseph Nnanna as Chairman, Boye Olusanya as CEO and Funke Igodaro as Chief Financial Officer.

This resolution, National Daily gathered would ensure that the company is maintained as a going concern regardless of changes in its shareholders.

The regulatory source said the central bank had provided assurances to lenders but had not invested any funds, adding that the company’s minority owner, Abu Dhabi’s Etisalat, has indicated it may pull out of Nigeria following the debt crisis but has not made a decision on the use of its brand in the country.

On June 23 the central bank said Abu Dhabi state investment fund Mubadala, which had a 40 percent stake in Etisalat Nigeria, had already pulled out of the company and the debt negotiations.

The 13 lenders involved in the $1.2 billion loan deal arranged for Etisalat four years ago, have been under pressure to avoid loan-loss provisions and were pushing to finalise a restructuring before half-yearly audits due in June. With Central Bank involvement, the lenders could get some forbearance on provisions pending when the debt crisis is resolved or the company is sold to new investors, the regulatory source said.

On Monday Chief Executive Matthew Wilsher resigned after chairman Hakeem Belo-Osagie departed.

Last month lenders initiated changes in Etisalat Nigeria’s shareholding structure to enforce their rights under the loan default agreement. UAE’s Etisalat has said it is carrying its 45 percent stake in the Nigerian arm at nil value.

A source at the telecoms industry regulator said the new interim board made up of six members will operate for six months and will include a member representing the shareholders.

ALSO SEE: Etisalat foreign directors may face criminal charges over unpaid loans

Regulators have said they want to protect Etisalat Nigeria’s 4,000 workers and are seeking to prevent lenders placing the telecoms firm in receivership in order to avoid a wider debt crisis. They held talks with Etisalat’s lenders last week, the regulatory source said.

Etisalat Nigeria has a 14 percent share of the country’s mobile market, behind MTN with 47 percent, Globacom with 20 percent and Airtel, a subsidiary of India’s Bharti Airtel, with 19 percent.

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