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$1.2bn Loan: GTBank, Access, Others Get 45% Stake in Etisalat

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  • $1.2bn Loan: GTBank, Access, Others Get 45% Stake in Etisalat

The ownership structure of Etisalat Nigeria is now set to change after talks with lenders to restructure its $1.2bn (N541bn) loan failed.

This came months after discussions with a consortium of 13 banks, including Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and Access Bank Plc, to restructure the loan after the telecoms firm missed repayment deadlines failed to produce an agreement.

In a statement on Tuesday, Etisalat Nigeria confirmed the development and said it had commenced the restructuring with changes to its shareholding.

The statement, signed by the Vice-President, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, Etisalat Nigeria, Ibrahim Dikko, did not give details of the new shareholding structure and the likely trading name.

It read in part, “Etisalat Nigeria can confirm discussions are ongoing regarding other issues such as the trading name during this transition phase. Operations and services to our subscribers remain normal and will in no way be affected as we continue to deliver quality services to our subscribers.

“We will continue to tap into the rich, creative and innovative resources within our workforce to build a stronger business upon the stable foundation we have laid in our nine years of operation.”

The Etisalat Group confirmed the changes to Etisalat Nigeria’s shareholding on Tuesday in a letter to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The Etisalat Group, with a 45 per cent stake in the Nigerian arm, said it had been ordered to transfer its shares to a loan trustee by June 23, after negotiations failed, Reuters reported.

It added that it was carrying the stake at nil value.

The group has up to Friday to complete the transfer of 100 per cent of the company’s shares in Etisalat Nigeria to the United Capital Trustees Limited, the legal representative of the consortium of 13 banks.

Dikko said the management was continuing to run the business after the shareholding changes and that there were contractual and regulator issues to be finalised.

“Etisalat Nigeria wishes to express its profound gratitude to the government, the Nigerian Communications Commission and the Central Bank of Nigeria for their patriotic zeal and tireless efforts at ensuring collaborative and productive engagement,” he added.

Meanwhile, the NCC has assured the over 21 million Etisalat subscribers that it will do all within its regulatory power to ensure that they continue to enjoy the services provided by the operator.

The commission said in a statement that it had taken proactive steps to cushion the impact of the new shareholding arrangement in the firm, adding, “This is without prejudice to the ongoing effort between Etisalat and the banks toward a negotiated settlement.”

The statement, which was signed by the Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Tony Ojobo, read in part, “In view of the recent development, the NCC wishes to reassure all stakeholders in the telecommunications sector, in particular the subscribers on the Etisalat network, that the commission will ensure that the integrity of the Etisalat network is not compromised.

“Accordingly, the commission has drawn the attention of the banks to the provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, Section 38:

“Sub section 1 – The grant of a licence shall be personal to the licensee and the licence shall not be operated by, assigned, sub-licensed or transferred to another party unless the prior written approval of the commission has been granted;

“Sub section 2 – A licensee shall at all times comply by the terms and condition of the licence and the provision of this Act and its subsidiary legislation.”

The Nigerian industry regulators had tried to prevent the lenders form placing the telecoms firm into receivership to avoid a wider debt crisis and agreed with the banks to pursue a default deal.

But the banks, under pressure to avoid loan-loss provisions, have been pushing to finalise restructuring before half-yearly audits this month.

The President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Olushola Teniola, asked the NCC to focus on consumers, saying, “Their ultimate choice should be paramount in the minds of all stakeholders during this difficult period for the shareholders of Etisalat.”

Teniola said that the customers and quality of service were key to the future shape and size of Etisalat.

He said, “Investors, both domestic and international, will be watching very closely how our regulator is able to manage any fall out and the precedence this sets for the industry.

“The ATCON has called for and reiterates a call for a competition czar to be created to deal with such issues raised over the last three months concerning takeovers, mergers and acquisitions in a sector that is critical to the future of our economy.”

The Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo, said the body had yet to receive formal notification of the development from its member, Etisalat.

“However, we hope that the parties can resolve the matter amicably. Despite the current situation, there is still room for negotiation. We believe strongly that the matter will not affect Etisalat’s subscribers in the country,” he stated.

The loan that has proved so troubling for Etisalat Nigeria is a seven-year facility agreed with 13 local banks in 2013 to refinance a $650m loan and fund expansion of its network.

The Abu Dhabi state-investment fund Mubadala, the second-biggest shareholder in Etisalat Nigeria, declined to comment.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Lagos Introduces Fuel Station on Inland Waterways to Enhance Ferry Operations

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Lagos State Waterways Intrdouces Fuel Station for Ferries Operators

The Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) on Tuesday said it has introduced the first-ever fuel state on the Lagos inland waterways.

The fuel station was introduced to boost activities across Lagos waterways and increase transportation activities, according to a statement released by Nkechi Ajayi, the Public Relations Officer, LASWA.

Speaking at the five cowries terminal in Lagos during an event, Mr. Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, the General manager, LASWA, lauded the fueling station project, adding that it would boost ferry operators’ activities and help them expand.

Emmanuel was quoted as saying “This project is significant to us at LASWA being a responsible agency of government.

“We are concerned about the hardship and occasional harassment usually faced by ferry operators while using jerry cans to get fuel from filling stations to run their boats.

“With the opening of this fuel pump unit to serve both commercial and private boat owners, the safety of lives and property on the Lagos waterways will be greatly enhanced.

“To further promote the safety of all waterways users, we urge boat operators to desist from moving fuel with kegs.

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Why N-power Beneficiaries Should be Retained Permanently

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N-power Beneficiaries Must and Should be Retained Permanently

Poorly paid with little to zero job securities and economic provisions, thousands of Nigerian graduates and non-graduates continue to enroll for the social investment program, N-power, established by the Federal Government in 2016 to alleviate poverty and support the vulnerable.

However, two years later the program is experiencing a downturn with the government planning to throw beneficiaries (batches A and B) of the program back into the street despite the nation’s unemployment rate at a record high of 27.1 percent.

Participants, proudly referred to as beneficiaries by the government and its agents, have had to endure delays in inhumane stipends that can barely meet their daily needs to undefined or uncertain exit package plans for the participants of the program.

Despite all the limitations faced by volunteers, supervisors in schools and other places of assignments have said N-power beneficiaries played key roles in addressing a lot of their existing challenges and on numerous occasions and they have occasioned a new growth direction.

According to a Senior Special Adviser to the President on job creation, “What we have found out is that they are filling a lot of gaps in some places like schools, where they do not have enough teachers.In some schools where the N-Power are posted to, you discovered that it is only the principal and some NYSC members that are teaching students, the Npower teachers have helped to compliment their efforts.”

In Ekiti, a 34-year-old veteran teacher explained that “If not all of them, a majority of the N-Power teachers have mastery of the subject matter. They have not been found wanting also in the theoretical aspect of teaching. Especially the way they make use of teaching aid in classes; and that is actually very impressive.

“There is one of them who is a Physics teacher now, we have to keep deploying from one class to the other just because we don’t have adequate teachers to cover those classes.

“The one that is taking Christian Religious Knowledge is a born teacher, who is very efficient and very punctual in her classes.”

Another principal of Government Secondary School in Daurawa, Kano, Haliru Inuwa, said the eight N-power teachers posted to his school since December 2016 have been saving grace for both himself and the students.

He said “We have eight beneficiaries of N-Power posted to my school here.” 

“Most of them are handling core science subjects which most of the schools in Kano state are lacking generally. Yes, subjects like Mathematics, English etc. To our surprise, and against the earlier concern raised that they might not perform well in teaching, the N-Power volunteer teachers are not only committed to their teaching, but are also punctual,” he added.

These much were achieved in spite of the poor salary and working conditions. Graduates and non-graduates of the N-power program have exceeded expectations and raised the bar of dedication and service to the people.

The Nigerian government, just like the private sector operators, continues to take advantage of the high unemployment rate it created to exploit supposed high demand services. What does one expect? when they have been undermined from the onset as ‘privileged beneficiaries’ even with the pivotal role they played in the economy.

N-power volunteers, Batch A and B, as promised are to be absorbed into permanent job positions and their salaries and working conditions reviewed to further enhance their commitments and impacts across the board.

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Tanker Drivers Suspend Strike as NNPC and DSS Intervene

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NUPENG called off strike

NARTO Called Off Strike as NNPC and DSS Intervene

The Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) on Tuesday said it has called off its two-day warning strike that began on Tuesday.

On Monday NARTO had directed all its members to halt operations following the new policy of the federal government that restricted truck above 45,000 litres from plying Nigerian road.

The National President of the association, Yusuf Othman, said the directive was sudden with little to no time for affected tanker drivers to make adjustments.

However, on Tuesday in Abuja, Othman said the association had to call off the strike following the intervention of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Department of State Services.

He said “Yesterday (Monday), following an emergency meeting of the National Executive Council of our association, it was resolved that transport owners would park their trucks from 22nd to 23rd September, 2020.

“This was in protest of the Federal Government’s decision to ban all trucks of over 45,000 litres capacity from loading petroleum products from all depots throughout the country.”

He added, “However, following the intervention of the Group Managing Director of NNPC and the Director-General of the DSS, we are hereby directing all our members to resume operation nationwide.

“This is a directive that we revert to status quo until January 2021 to allow for wider consultation.”

NARTO president said the association now await peaceful resolution and hope that the agreed time would be enough for affected members to re-engineer their trucks in accordance with the 45,000 litres directive.

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