Tuesday, June 20, 2017

$1.72 B Debt- Access Bank, Others Take Over Etisalat Nigeria

A group of Nigerian and foreign banks led by Access Bank PLC have taken over the management of Etisalat Nigeria following a collapse of efforts to reach an agreement with the banks on debt restructuring plan in the protracted $1,72 billion debt impasse.

The takeover became effective as at June 15th. Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services, EMTS, promoted by a former Chairman of United Bank for Africa, UBA, Hakeem Bello-Osagie, had been making efforts to arrive at an agreement on debt restructuring plan but the failure of that led to the takeover by the consortium of banks.

However, EMTS Holding B.V. has up to June 23 to complete the transfer of 100 percent of the company’s shares in Etisalat to the legal representative of the consortium of banks, United Capital Trustees Limited.

Etisalat Group made this known on Tuesday in a filing to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirate. The filing, with reference number Ho/GCFO/152/85, and dated June 20, 2017, signed by Etisalat Group Chief Financial Officer, Serkan Okandan, said efforts by EMTS to restructure the repayment of the syndicated loan by a consortium of banks to Etisalat Nigeria collapsed, Premium Times reports.

The filing read: “Further to our announcement dated 12 February, 2017, Emirates Telecommunications Group Company PJSC, “Etisalat Group” would like to inform you that Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Limited “EMTS” (“the company), established in Nigeria and an associate of Etisalat Group with effective ownership of 45% and 25% ordinary and preference shares respectively, defaulted on a facility agreement with a syndicate of Nigerian banks (“EMTS Lenders”).

“Subsequently, discussions between EMTS and the EMTS Lenders did not produce an agreement on a debt restructuring plan.

“Accordingly, the Company received a default and security Enforcement Notice on 9 June 2017 requesting EMTS Holding BV (EMTS BV) established in the Netherlands, and through which Etisalat Group holds its interest in the company) requiring EMTS BV to transfer 100% of its shares in the company to the United Capital Trustees Limited (the Security Trustee”) of the EMTS Lenders by 15 June 2017. Subsequently, the EMTS Lenders extended the deadline for the share transfer to 5.00 pm Lagos time on 23 June 2017."

In 2016, Etisalat was served a demand notice for the recovery of a $1.72 billion (about N541.8 billion) loan facility it obtained from a consortium of banks in 2015. The loan, which involved a foreign-backed guaranty bond, was for the telecoms company to finance a major network rehabilitation and expansion of its operational base in Nigeria. However, when they were unable to meet the debt servicing obligations, the consortium of banks threatened to take over the company and its assets across Nigeria.

However, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, intervened, persuading the banks to give Etisalat a chance to renegotiate the loan’s repayment schedule. But Etisalat only got into more trouble with Mubadala, its majority shareholder, representing Etisalat of UAE, was reportedly on the verge of pulling out following irreconcilable differences concerning the loan issue.

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