N542b debt: 3 Nigerian banks to take over Etisalat

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Three Nigerian banks are set to take over telecommunications firm Etisalat, Wednesday, March 8, over unpaid N541.8billion debt, Premium Times has reported.

According to the report, the move follows the failure of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to broker a peaceful resolution between Etisalat Nigeria and a consortium of banks. The banks are Access Bank, Guarantee Trust and Zenith Banks.

However, these are not the only banks as there are also some foreign banks that have also been reportedly having a running battle with the telecoms company over the loan facility, a total $1.72 billion (about N541.8 billion) and was obtained in 2015.

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The report says the loan involved a foreign-backed guaranty bond and was given to Etisalat to finance a major network rehabilitation and expansion of its operational base in Nigeria.

After failing to service its debt since 2016, the banks reported the company to the Central Bank of Nigeria and communications sector regular NCC.

Etisalat blamed its inability to fulfil its obligation to the banks on the current economic recession in Nigeria but the banks replied that Asset Management Company of Nigeria regulations demanding immediate cut down on the rate of their non-performing loans give them no other option.

A senior bank official among those affected said Etisalat management was given option of filing for bankruptcy but it was not taken. This option, he said, would have required the banks just a management to oversee the telecoms firm’s operations.

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