$1.2B DEBT: ETISALAT GROUP MAY SELL ITS SHARE IN ETISALAT NIGERIA

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[Etisalat]–Following the $1.2b Etisalat Nigeria debt crisis, Abu Dhabi telecoms group Etisalat may sell its stake in the telecom company, but wants the company’s debt restructured before it does so.

This was gathered by Reuters yesterday.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Friday agreed with local banks to pursue a default deal rather than a receivership for Etisalat Nigeria so as not to discourage investors and to avoid a wider debt crisis.

According to the Reuters’ source, Etisalat is due to meet with creditors in the country today or tomorrow to discuss the default.

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

Senior Vice President of Etisalat, Ahmed Bin Ali, declined to comment, while Etisalat Nigeria could not be reached as at press time.

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

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

But economic recession, currency devaluation and dollar shortages on Nigeria’s inter-bank market led to its missing payment, Ibrahim Dikko, vice president for regulatory affairs at Etisalat Nigeria, said.




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