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Etisalat May Leave Nigeria Over $1.2bn Loan Default

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Etisalat
  • Etisalat May Leave Nigeria Over $1.2bn Loan Default

Abu Dhabi telecoms group, Etisalat, may sell its stake in Etisalat Nigeria, which has defaulted on a $1.2bn loan, but wants the company’s debt restructured before it does so, Reuters quoted two sources as informing it on Monday.

The Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian Communications Commission on Friday agreed with local banks to pursue a default deal rather than a receivership for Etisalat Nigeria so as not to deter investors and to avoid a wider debt crisis.

Etisalat is due to meet with creditors on Tuesday (today) or Wednesday to discuss the default, the sources said.

It was not clear whether Etisalat, which has a 45 per cent holding in the Nigerian unit after converting a loan to equity in February, would divest completely.

The Senior Vice-President of Etisalat, Ahmed Bin Ali, according to Reuters, declined to comment, while Etisalat Nigeria could not be reached.

“It is at an early stage,” one source said of the sale.

Last week a banking source told Reuters that the Nigerian affiliate of Etisalat had given notice to its lenders that it would miss a payment in February, but the two sides have yet to agree terms.

Etisalat Nigeria signed a $1.2bn medium-term facility with 13 indigenous banks in 2013, which it used to refinance an existing $650m loan and modernise its network.

But an economic downturn, a currency devaluation and dollar shortages on Nigeria’s interbank market led to it missing payment, the Vice-President for regulatory affairs at Etisalat Nigeria, Ibrahim Dikko, said.

Banks involved in the loan include Zenith Bank, GTBank, First Bank, UBA, Fidelity Bank, Access Bank, Ecobank, FCMB, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Union Bank.

Abu Dhabi state investment fund, Mubadala, which has a 40 per cent stake in Etisalat Nigeria, wants a solution found, another source said. Mubadala declined to comment.

Etisalat has been hit hardest among foreign firms by dollar shortages in Nigeria. Firms that invested in the country in the era of high oil prices are struggling to repay loans or keep operating as the oil producer suffers from a slump in oil revenues, hitting its currency and dollar reserves.

Etisalat’s Chief Strategy Officer, Khalifa Hassan al-Forah al-Shamsi, told Reuters that it was making sure that in markets where there were currency fluctuations, operating costs were in local currencies. Though he was not responsible for Nigeria.

Etisalat Nigeria has 20 million subscribers, according to Nigeria’s telecom regulator, making it the country’s number four mobile operator with a 14 per cent market share. South Africa’s MTN has 47 per cent; Globacom, 20 per cent; and Airtel, a subsidiary of India’s Bharti Airtel, 19 per cent.

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.

Brands

MILO Cereal Launches New Online Campaign, ‘Beast Mode – Activated’

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MILO Cereal has launched its first major marketing campaign for its newly launched Protein cereal, via independent creative communications agency Connecting Plots.

Building on MILO’s brand message of fuelling active kids, the new campaign platform, ‘Beast Mode – Activated’, evolves the master brand’s focus on team sports.

This aims to celebrate how MILO Protein helps active kids unleash their own full potential, take their training to the next level and successfully compete with their peers.

The campaign launched on 16 April and will run across various social channels and online videos.

Connecting Plots creative partner Dave Jansen said the approach to the MILO Protein cereal campaign was about tapping into the teen mindset and being less overt and more authentic.

“Creating advertising that doesn’t feel like a ‘sell’ is the challenge when targeting teens,” Jansen said in a statement.

“We’ve shied away from the polished tropes of traditional, achievement driven sports ads to bring this to life in a way that hopefully gives life to a teenager’s desire to do their best, feel like they are stepping into their future adult self and showing how MILO Protein Cereal can help on that journey.”

Cereal Partners Worldwide’s marketing manager, Keara Deignan, added: “Aussies grew up with MILO cereal, it’s a staple of every Australian pantry.

“However, we’ve seen that as teens start to carve out their own identities, their consumption habits change so this product aims to keep pace with their active on-the-go lifestyle.”

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Business

Global Digital Consumer Spent $900B In 2020 – Mastercard

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According to Mastercard’s latest Recovery Insights report, this amounted to an additional $900bn being spent in retail online around the world in 2020. Put another way: in 2020, e-commerce made up roughly $1 out of every $5 spent on retail, up from about $1 out of every $7 spent in 2019.

For retailers, restaurants and other businesses large and small, being able to sell online provided a much-needed lifeline as in-person consumer spending was disrupted.

Roughly 20-30% of the Covid-related shift to digital globally is expected to be permanent, according to Mastercard’s Recovery Insights: Commerce E-volution. The report draws on anonymised and aggregated sales activity in the Mastercard network and proprietary analysis by the Mastercard Economics Institute. The analysis dives into what this means by country and by sector, for goods and services, and within countries and across borders.

“While consumers were stuck at home, their dollars traveled far and wide thanks to e-commerce,” says Bricklin Dwyer, Mastercard chief economist and head of the Mastercard Economics Institute. “This has significant implications, with the countries and companies that have prioritized digital continuing to reap the benefits. Our analysis shows that even the smallest businesses see gains when they shift to digital.”

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Venmo Launches Cryptocurrency Trading

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Venmo, owned by PayPal, is launching cryptocurrency trading for four major coins: Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Litceoin (LTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

This service set to be widely available within the new few weeks, Venmo’s 70 million+ customers will be able to buy, hold and sell crypto directly within the Venmo app. The launch is offering users access to in-app guides to help them to better navigate the cryptocurrency trading space and will encourage them to share their cryptocurrency experiences via the Venmo feed.

Venmo users will be able to buy as little as $1 worth of cryptocurrency and can use either funds from their Venmo balance or from a linked bank account or debit card to buy and sell their holdings.

Over 30% of Venmo customers have already begun to purchase cryptocurrency or equities, according to the company’s research into 2020 customer behavior. Of these, 20% began their purchase during the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting that the public health and concurrent economic crisis has accelerated trends in digitization and experimentation with new financial technologies.

Support for cryptocurrency on Venmo is facilitated through a partnership with Paxos Trust Company, a regulated provider of crypto products such as its stable coin and other services. Venmo owner PayPal is also the holder of a conditional Bitlicense from the exacting New York State Department of Financial Services. Conditional licensees, such as PayPal, are required to pair off with firms that have already been granted full-blown licenses — as, in this case, has Paxos.

Just under a week ago, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman hinted at developments underway since the payments giant first went live with its crypto offering in the United States in November of last year. Schulman said that PayPal aims to support the use of crypto for everyday transactions and to tap into smart contracts and other, more expansive features of blockchain technology. He also pitched the company’s vision of leveraging crypto for the attainment of a more “inclusive economy,” in which “things will be done much differently than today.”

 

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