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Etisalat Saga : New Management May Seek Fresh Investors

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*Reps committee warn against mass sack

By ADEBIYI ADEDAPO, Abuja

Indication has emerged that the new management of the defunct Etisalat Telecommunications, may seek fresh investors in order to meet-up with operational standards in the industry.

This is just as the Chairman of the House of Representatives committee on Telecommunications, Hon Saheed Akinade-Fijabi warned the company against mass retrenchment of workers.

The House had mandated the committee to investigate the circumstances which led to the collapse of Etisalat Nigeria so as to forestall a reoccurrence.

The company has since changes it’s brand to 9mobile Nigeria.
The new management had before the Akinade-Fijabi led committee alleged that indiscretion of the company’s former management contributed to its inability to service the bank loan which plunged the brand into financial crisis.

A new management was constituted for the Nigeria’s fourth largest mobile telecommunication service provider, in July, by a consortium of 13 banks with Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB), as the facilitator after the former investors defaulted terms of loan agreement.

The firm subsribed to a loan facility of $235 million and another loan of N115.6billion from the 13 banks syndication.
The 13 banks include ; GTB as the facilitator, Access Bank, Eco Bank, Fidelity Bank, First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and for Bank Platinum Habib Bank (PHB) now Key Stone Bank.

Others are former Skye Bank, now Mainstreat Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Union Bank, Zenith Bank and the United Bank of Africa (UBA).

But the firm is going through difficult times and may lay off some of its staff in the coming months.

Management of GTB, led by its Executive Director Haruna Musa in their presentation before the House of Representatives committee on Telecommunications could not confirm to the committee, whether or not the retrenchment will be carried out.

Akinade-Fijabi while probing the bank officials asked what could have been done to salvage the situation.
The GTB officials in response noted that management of the then Etisalat chose to reduce their naira loans as against the USD loans.

“When they sold their towers IHS Holding Limited in the 2014, they got the proceeds in USD, they were advised to offset part of their debt in USD but they didn’t do so. Rather, they preferred to convert the proceed to naira and paid part of their debt in standing in Nigerian currency, that was a major setback for the company.”

The Executive Director added that the high exchange rate of naira against dollar and the
“They did not envisage that the forex problem will be that bad,” he stated.

Chairman, Akinade-Fijabi however stated that committee may in the coming weeks invite former Etisalat management in order to conclude it’s investigation



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