The embattled mobile telephone operator, Etisalat Nigeria Limited, said on Friday it would move swiftly to set a new management and appoint a new board, in the wake of the resignation of its incumbent Chairman, Hakeem Bello-Osagie.
A statement obtained by PREMIUM TIMES said Mr. Bello-Osagie’s decided to quit on Friday following “the approval of a restructuring plan for the telecommunications firm.”
“Although the Chairman had planned to leave immediately the banks made the take-over move, he opted to tarry until a road map for the company was finalised.
The timing of the resignation was strategically delayed till now when stakeholders have agreed a plan,” the statement said.
“The development reflects Mr. Bello-Osagie’s deep commitment to protecting the interest of all stakeholders. It is now expected that Etisalat Nigeria under its new shareholding structure will navigate through its current loan repayment challenge with minimum impact.
“Over the last several months, the Chairman has worked extensively with critical stakeholders to prepare clearly articulated strategies and robust road maps that will mitigate the impact of the new shareholding restructuring and realignment on the operations and management of the 4th largest telecoms player in Nigeria,” the statement said.
The former Chairman of the United Bank for Africa, UBA, was the only surviving shareholder in the embattled mobile operator currently embroiled in a $1.2 billion (about N377.4 billion) loan repayment crisis with a consortium of 13 Nigerian banks.
He was the promoter of Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services, EMTS, which controlled 15 per cent of the equity holding of the company.
His resignation followed the withdrawal, two weeks ago, of the company’s major shareholder, Emirates Telecommunications Group Company, after its affiliate, Mubadala Development Company, had indicated its intention to withdraw from the company.
Last week, the United Arab Emirates, UAE, company, in a filing to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange in Abu Dhabi requested EMTS Holding BV to transfer all of its 85 per cent shareholdings in Etisalat Nigeria to United Capital Trustees Limited, the legal trustees of the banks, latest June 23, 2017.
Since then, Etisalat Nigeria had been logged in series of negotiations involving the consortium of banks, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to restructure the remains of the telephone operator’s management.
In 2013, Etisalat had obtained the syndicated loan from a consortium of 13 Nigerian banks, including Access Bank, Zenith Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, First Bank Limited, Fidelity Bank Plc, First City Monument Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Ecobank, United Bank for Africa Plc and Union Bank of Nigeria Plc.
The loan, which involved a foreign-backed guaranteed bond, was to help the mobile firm finance a major network rehabilitation, upgrade and expansion of its operational base in Nigeria.
However, its alleged failure to meet agreed debt servicing obligations with the banks since 2016 triggered a major crisis, culminating in the recent withdrawal of its majority shareholder and resignation of Mr. Bello-Osagie