- $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.
Dangote Commits $700M To Sugar Production In Support of Backward Integration Policy
The management of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc has said it is committing over $700m to its sugar projects to support the Backward Integration Policy of the Federal Government to make Nigeria self-sufficient in sugar production.
According to a statement issued on Sunday by Dangote Industries Limited, the company disclosed this to visiting members of the Nasarawa House of Assembly on Friday.
The company noted that Nigeria was one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest importers of sugar, second only to South Africa with an annual import of over $337m.
The Dangote Sugar management however assured the lawmakers that with the completion of its sugar projects in Nasarawa and Adamawa under the BIP, the nation would be saved more than half of the forex expended on sugar imports annually.
It added that the investment would also lift its people as other people-oriented infrastructures would come with the sugar projects.
The state lawmakers commended the Dangote Group for the choice of the state for the project and the accelerated pace with which the project was being executed, despite occasional delays arising from communal disagreements.
General Manager for the BIP, Dangote Sugar, John Beverley said when the factory was fully operational, it would have the capacity to crush 12,000 tons of cane per day, while 90MW power would be generated for both the company’s use and host communities.
He also disclosed that some 500km roads in all would be constructed to ease transportation within the vicinity. He solicited the support of the lawmakers in controlling the menace of land encroachment by settlers and itinerant farmers.
The Speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Ibrahim Abdullah, and his team members, who were conducted around the company’s 78,000 hectares BIP in Tunga Awe Local Government Area commended the company for the project.
Abdullah noted that it would not only open up opportunities in the state but in Africa as a whole, and said the lawmakers were ready to partner and support the company towards the realisation of the sugar project through the relevant legislation.
When phase II of the project is completed, according to the company, it will make it the largest sugar refining plant in Africa.
French Trade Advisors pledge Massive Investment In Lagos Free Zone
The Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur (French Foreign Trade Advisors) has expressed readiness to invest massively in the Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) being developed by the Tolaram Group as they endorsed the zone as the ideal industrial destination for French businesses in Nigeria.
This was made known on Thursday, April 15, 2021, during a visit to the Lagos Free Zone. The delegation led by the Ambassador of France to Nigeria, His Excellency Jerome Pasquier accompanied by his Economic Advisor, the Consulate General of France in Lagos and the Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur comprising of CEOs of several French businesses in Nigeria.
Speaking during the visit, the Ambassador of France in Nigeria, His Excellency Jerome Pasquier explained that the aim of the visit of the Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur to Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) was to discover the opportunities in the Lagos Free Zone and the Lekki Port project, which is expected to have a huge positive impact on businesses in Nigeria.
Pasquier commended Tolaram Group, the promoter of the zone, for the foresight of integration of Lekki Port into the master plan of the Lagos Free Zone (LFZ), which would serve as the gateway for import and export from the zone thereby giving businesses in the zone a competitive edge.
The Ambassador also commended the Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) for its Master Plan for the zone which includes world-class infrastructure that is in line with its vision to be the preferred industrial hub and investment destination in West Africa.
“I am impressed by the huge size of the Lagos Free Zone project. We are very happy that the French companies will be deeply involved in this Lagos Free Zone project. It is really impressive to see how ambitious this project is. The French Minister was in Nigeria yesterday and I explained to him that Nigeria is a country where we can have big projects. For us, this project means big opportunities and that explains why we need to be here. We are happy to be here and work with Tolaram Group”, he added.
It is noteworthy to mention that the first French company to be established in the Lagos Free Zone is the terminal operations arm of CMA – CGM which has established a subsidiary within the Lagos Free Zone and is the appointed operator for the container terminal operations scheduled to commence at Lekki Port next year.
In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer, Lagos Free Zone (LFZ), Mr. Dinesh Rathi assured the Ambassador of France and the Conseillers du Commerce Exterieur that the zone remains the best destination for investment in Nigeria and the West African sub-region given the seamless integration with Lekki Port and the world-class infrastructure provided by Lagos Free Zone.
Explaining the configuration of the zone, Rathi disclosed that the clustering is planned in line with the international best practices of Work, Live, and Play. He stated that the land-use plan of the Lagos Free Zone allocates 70 percent area towards industrial developments, 20 percent towards logistics and support services while the real estate will cover the remaining 10 percent.
He also stated that Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) has simplified the process of business entry and operation in the zone in line with the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Ease of Doing Business policy.
“We have made it very easy for the business to berth and take off at zone by making our process less cumbersome and friendly, we are open for business 24/7 and willing to help investors to settle in very fast,” he said.
AIICO Refutes Claims of Non-Remittance of Pension Assets to PTAD
AIICO Insurance Plc has refuted claims of non-remittance of pension assets to the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD).
This was disclosed recently in a statement by Segun Olalandu, the Head, Strategic Marketing and Communications Department.
It stated: “The attention of the Management of AIICO Insurance Plc. has been drawn to a recent report in the media on allegations of non-remittance of pension assets to the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD).
“AIICO Insurance Plc. hereby wishes to inform the public that all pension assets due for remittance have been duly transferred to PTAD since the year 2017, in full compliance with the directive. Both parties are presently engaged in a reconciliation exercise to conclude the process. We implore the public to disregard any information that may suggest otherwise as there is no basis to that effect.”
Mr. Segun assured that AIICO Insurance Plc. remains a responsible corporate citizen of Nigeria and will continue to engage the best practice in all its business activities and operations in line with extant laws and regulatory provisions guiding its practice.
AIICO Insurance is a leading composite insurer in Nigeria with a record of serving our customers that dates back over 50 years. Founded in 1963, AIICO provides life and health insurance, general insurance, and investment management services as a means to create and protect wealth for individuals, families, and corporate customers.
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