Connect with us

Business

$1.2bn Debt: Etisalat Loses 2.9 Million Subscribers

Published

on

Etisalat
  • $1.2bn Debt: Etisalat Loses 2.9 Million Subscribers

Etisalat Nigeria’s $1.2bn debt burden may have taken a toll on its operations as over 2.9 million subscribers left its network in six months.

One of Nigeria’s major telecommunications companies, Etisalat, lost over 2.9 million subscribers in the last two quarters, investigation has revealed.

Findings by our correspondent showed that as of September 2016, there were 22.5 million active subscribers on the network but the figure dropped to 20.8 million by December. This represents a loss of 1.7 million subscribers within three months.

The drop, thus, represents a loss of about N3.1bn potential revenue for Etisalat for the quarter, going by the industry’s average revenue of N1,830 per user, according to the quarterly subscriber operation data obtained from the Nigerian Communications Commission.

Similarly, in the first quarter of this year, the telco lost 1.2 million subscribers. This is also estimated to cost the telecoms company potential revenue of about N3.8bn.

Fact checks showed that between September last year and end of March, this year, Globacom increased its subscribers from 36.9 million to 37.3 million; Airtel grew from 34.1 million to 34.6 million but MTN dropped in subscriptions from 60.5 million to 60.3 million.

Observers conversant with Etisalat’s operations said the poor network investment, occasioned by $1.2bn debt to eight Nigerian banks, was adversely affecting the company’s ability to deliver quality service and impeding its expansion.

“As such, we are beginning to see an exodus of subscribers from Etisalat network to rival networks, most especially now that subscribers have options through the Mobile Number Portability,” a source conversant with the Etisalat’s operations said.

On the contrary, a former senior manager of a rival telco, MTN, disagreed that Etisalat’s quality services had disappeared because of the loan crisis and that subscribers were porting away due to poor services and reduced expansion.

She said, “It would rather be convenient to say that due to steps taken to pay the $1.21bn debt, it (Etisalat) currently doesn’t have the kind of cash flow for product development, product activation, promos and advertising, and other activities that should retain its customers at the bottom of the pyramid.

“The customers at the bottom of the pyramid are about 90 per cent and are those who don’t have any permanent loyalty to a particular telecoms company and are easily taken aback by small things like promos and advertising promises, bearing in mind that getting another SIM card costs just only N300.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity since she is no longer in the industry and would not want to be seen as working for a particular telecoms firm, said, “As a matter of fact, Etisalat has the best services – voice and data – in the country. Even when I worked in MTN until recently, most of us kept Etisalat as a second SIM card.”

Apart from owing eight local banks, it was also discovered that the company owed tower firm, IHS Nigeria.

This was made known by the IHS, which said that it had experienced instability in terms of timing of settlement of invoices with certain customers including Etisalat.

It should be recall that in 2014, the World Bank lent $200m to the London-based African tower manager, IHS, for the acquisition of about 2,100 tower sites from Etisalat Nigeria. Under this Master Lease Agreement, Etisalat sold its tower assets to the IHS, while the IHS leased it back in exchange for lease rentals.

The IHS also has an $800m bond, which is partly securitised from the cash flows of the Etisalat lease.

“We do experience volatility in terms of timing of settlement of invoices with certain customers. We have a strong relationship with Etisalat and it has continued to make some payments under our Master Lease Agreement.

“As of December 31, 2016, $8.5m was more than 120 days overdue from Etisalat. This amount represents less than 2.5 per cent of the expected proforma full-year combined revenue of the group for 2016,” a press statement from the company stated.

An analyst with JP Morgan, Zafar Nazim, said that it had downgraded the IHS bonds due 2021 because of Etisalat Nigeria as it was uncertain whether the company could keep up with the lease commitments.

Fitch Rating has said the IHS might experience delays in collecting payments from Etisalat Nigeria over the short term, but medium-term prospects should remain broadly intact.

“Should Etisalat Nigeria go into bankruptcy proceedings, we believe its creditors will want to maximise recovery prospects by continuing normal mobile network operations, which include payments to the IHS for use of its tower infrastructure,” it said in a statement.

But in an e-mail sent to our correspondent, the Vice-President, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, Etisalat Nigeria, Ibrahim Dikko, said remarkable progress had been made to resolve the loan crisis.

His mail read, “We are optimistic that an agreement will be reached shortly and this will be communicated through the appropriate channels of the involved stakeholders.

“As a business, our immediate focus is to ensure that we not only sustain a positive performance, but that we are in a position to continue to grow the business, deliver excellent customer service and increase value to our stakeholders, which include our bankers.”

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.

Business

PayPal Acquires Happy Returns Logistics Business

Published

on

paypal

PayPal announced that it’s acquiring Happy Returns, a returns solution provider that offers online shoppers access to easier ways to send back unwanted merchandise to retailers without having to box it up and ship it themselves.

The company today offers a network of over 2,600 drop-off returns locations in the U.S., including those in over 1,200 metros and in every U.S. state.

It also has relationships with hundreds of brands that have been using its returns software and reverse logistics services. The company says it will continue to offer its returns experience to online retailers and shoppers as a part of PayPal.

Founded in 2015, Santa Monica-based Happy Returns’ value proposition was to take some of the overhead and cost out of the returns process for online retailers. Because online shoppers can’t inspect items they buy directly, online retail tends to see higher return rates, especially in apparel. Happy Returns found that online items are 3 to 4 times as likely to be returned than those purchased in-store, for example.

Meanwhile, today’s retailers have to compete with giants like Amazon and Walmart, both of which enable returns more easily for their customers by way of their large brick-and-mortar footprints — Amazon with Whole Foods other locations, and Walmart with its own stores. In fact, the foot traffic that offering an Amazon returns desk or locker system in-store has led retailers like Kohl’s and Stein Mart to embrace the enemy by catering to shoppers with Amazon returns in their own stores.

Today, the Happy Returns solution offers a combination of software, services and logistics that allows retailers to manage their returns through their own retail stores, by the carrier, as well as through Happy Returns’ “Return Bar” locations. These are found in physical retail stores like Paper Source, Sur La Table, Cost Plus World Market, and others. The service has been used by several digitally native brands, including Everlane, Rothy’s, and Parachute Home, among others.

Happy Returns has also been closely working with PayPal throughout its history, it notes. And notably, PayPal made a strategic investment in the business in 2019, as part of an $11 million financing round.

Following the deal’s close, Happy Returns will continue to work with retailers and shoppers both on and off PayPal’s platform, it says. The company’s co-founders, David Sobie and Mark Geller, and its full 120+ team will join PayPal and will report to Frank Keller, VP Consumer In-Store and Digital Commerce at PayPal.

PayPal is not disclosing the deal terms. To date, Happy Returns had raised $25 million in funding.

“This is an incredibly exciting milestone for our company, and it would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our entire team,” an announcement on Happy Returns’ website reads. “We are so proud of what our team has accomplished and are grateful for the tenacity, creativity and empathy Happy Returns employees bring to work each day. We are confident that the best is yet to come, and are looking forward to our next chapter as part of the PayPal organization.”

Continue Reading

Business

MoneyGram and Coinme Partner to Expand Access to Bitcoin

Published

on

money gram

MoneyGram International, a global leader in cross-border P2P payments and money transfers, and Coinme Inc., the largest licensed cryptocurrency cash exchange in the U.S., announced the launch of a new partnership to enable the cash funding and payout of digital currency purchases and sales.

The partnership, which utilizes MoneyGram’s modern, mobile and API-driven payments platform and Coinme’s proprietary cryptocurrency exchange and custody technology, will bring bitcoin to thousands of new point-of-sale locations in the U.S., with plans to expand to select international markets in the second half of 2021.

“This innovative partnership opens our business to an entirely new customer segment as we are the first to pioneer a crypto-to-cash model by building a bridge with Coinme to connect bitcoin to local fiat currency,” said Alex Holmes, MoneyGram Chairman and CEO. “Our unique, global network is an incredibly valuable asset, and we’re excited to open our platform to Coinme as we increasingly look to capture new growth by monetizing our network to new use-cases.”

Global cash on and off-ramps ensure access to bitcoin

The MoneyGram and Coinme integration will provide a fast and easy way for customers to purchase bitcoin with cash and withdraw bitcoin holdings in cash. It is specially designed for customers who may be interested in utilizing bitcoin for the first time. With less than 20,000 cryptocurrency kiosks in the world today, the MoneyGram and Coinme partnership will further expand access to bitcoin and potentially other digital currencies by creating thousands of new point-of-sale locations to buy and sell cryptocurrency.

“MoneyGram has spent more than 80 years building one of the world’s largest P2P payment networks,” said Neil Bergquist, Coinme CEO. “By integrating its global infrastructure with our licensed crypto exchange technology, we can enable the purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies across its system using cash. This is a major milestone for the bitcoin and cryptocurrency communities, and for the millions of people who will benefit from a trusted, easy and affordable onramp to digital currency.”

The service will be available at select MoneyGram locations starting in the U.S. in the coming weeks. Additional countries and cryptocurrencies will be made available shortly thereafter.

Continue Reading

Brands

International Breweries To Train 500 Young Entrepreneurs Through Kickstart Initiative

Published

on

Kickstart Initiative - Investorsking

As part of its commitment to bringing people together for a better world and its objective of delivering impactful, developmental and sustainable projects, International Breweries Plc through its social investment arm, International Breweries Foundation has launched the 6th edition of its Kickstart entrepreneurship programme recently.

The initiative is targeted at enterprise growth and development for young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35.

During a media briefing to update the public on the process of this year’s edition, Managing Director, International Breweries Plc, Hugo Rocha expressed delight that the Kickstart Initiative had evolved from the regional programme it used to be, to an inclusive national programme that reaches the six geopolitical zones and 36 states of Nigeria.

“Over the years, we have held the conviction that the energy, zeal, and brilliance of the youths of Nigeria who constitute about 70 percent of the total population should be tapped and channelled to productive use. This is the logic behind Kickstart – to promote a culture of entrepreneurship among young people through training, provision of capital and mentorship,” Rocha said.

Rocha concluded his remarks on a high note, stating that, “as International Breweries celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year, I am pleased that the results of a 3-year impact assessment study that we commissioned on Kickstart came out positive and gives us the confidence to continue to support young people to achieve their dream of entrepreneurship. We remain steadfast in our commitment towards the economic development of Nigeria”

Also speaking at the press conference, Chairman, Advisory Board, International Breweries Foundation, Peter Bamkole explained that International Breweries Plc and its foundation is dedicated to continuing to contribute its quota towards tackling the twin challenges of unemployment and poverty while promoting Decent Work and Economic Growth in line with Goad 8 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDGs).

“By creating Kickstart, International Breweries Foundation set out to be the nursery of innovation in a business where budding enterprise managers are groomed—held by the hand and taken through the rigour of entrepreneurial work. We aim to produce well-rounded entrepreneurs who understand and are prepared to put in the work it takes to do business successfully in a unique climate like ours.” Bamkole said.

Over the past five years, the Kickstart initiative has provided training, mentoring, and seed capital of N325,136 million (in total) for 274 grantees; 708 direct beneficiaries and 2,832 indirect beneficiaries across a wide range of business sectors; with the result of the creation of about 571 jobs and 1,392 new jobs projected across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.

Speaking on the mechanics of the award, Legal and Corporate Affairs Director, International Breweries Plc, Temitope Oguntokun revealed that the award is in three phases: the application phase, the training phase and the pitch fest phase which is the final selection of grantees by judges.

She explained that the Kickstart Initiative will be incorporating an expansive training module that will train 500 young entrepreneurs online, with a number of them going into the bootcamp. This year’s edition also features a streamlined search for entrepreneurs into Agriculture, Modular Retailing, Circular Packaging (Recycling), Technology, and Renewable Energy sectors.

“After a transparent selection process on the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) platform via the link, https://reg.smetoolkit.ng/program-apply/kickstart-nigeria-2021, which will open on the 20th of May, successful applicants will be equipped with critical skills and training on entrepreneurship by experienced entrepreneurs and corporate professionals during a 2-day boot camp. They will partake at the pitch fest where a panel of judges will appraise their proposals before final selection. Winners of the pitch fest will then be awarded grants at the awards ceremony in Lagos,” Oguntokun noted.

The press launch which held last week in Lagos had in attendance dignitaries such as the Director for Employment, Lagos State Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment, Mrs Iyabo Seriki-Bello, Director of Partnerships and Coordination for Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria; Dr Friday Okpara; Chairman, Advisory Board, International Breweries Foundation, Mr Peter Bamkole; members of the International Breweries team, past Kickstart Alumni, mentors and a host of others joining online.

Following its trajectory of success, impact over the years, and its extensive yet immersive plans for the 6th edition, Kickstart, under the auspices of International Breweries and its foundation is geared towards transforming Nigeria into an economic powerhouse through the impact of entrepreneurship.

Continue Reading

Trending