Banks may takeover Etisalat over debts

• Telco: we’re discussing

consortium of local banks may assume the management of
Etisalat Nigeria over unpaid loans  extended to the telco about two years ago, The Nation has learnt.

The development is a fallout of the difficult being faced by the telco in settling the. Already, the telco has approached the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for  their intervention to prevent the takeover of the telco.

But sources said the CBN has already arranged a meeting with executives of the affected banks on the issue, adding that the banks’ chiefs at a meeting with CBN three days ago, were non committal to the apex bank’s truce.

The bank executives are now said to be waiting until today, March 7,when the “cure period” (a period of time when a party that breaches a contract can remedy the breach without penalty) will end. It was learnt that the creditor banks plan to approach the telecom industry regulator, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) “to update the Executive Vice Chairman Prof  Umar Danbatta of the situation before any overture is made to  possible buyers” for the company”.

But a source close to the telco denied any plan to take over the telco, insisting that its management was intact, and working round the clock to offer quality services to its over 20 million customers across the country.

While confirming the Etisalat’s indebtedness, a Senior Executive of the company said the economic headwind had made the repayment a little difficult.

“Yes we raised funds from a consortium of banks about two years ago in the country. We have been making conscious efforts to repay the debts and we have indeed repaid part of it. We are engaging with the banks, negotiating with them with a view to coming out with a method of repaying the loan, : the source said.

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