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Etisalat May Sell Nigeria Stake
Nigeria’s central bank and telecoms regulator agrees with local banks to pursue a default deal rather than a receivership for Etisalat Nigeria
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, according to two sources.
On Friday, Nigeria’s central bank and telecoms regulator 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 was due to meet creditors in Nigeria on Tuesday or Wednesday to discuss the default, one of the sources said. It was not clear whether Etisalat, which has a 45% holding in Etisalat Nigeria after converting a loan to equity in February, would divest completely.
Etisalat Nigeria has a 14% market share with 20-million subscribers, according to the national telecoms regulator. That makes it Nigeria’s fourth-largest mobile operator.
Ahmed Bin Ali, senior vice-president of Etisalat, declined to comment, while Etisalat Nigeria could not be reached.
“It is at an early stage,” one source said of the sale.
Banks involved in the loan include Zenith Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, First Bank, UBA, Fidelity Bank, Access Bank, Ecobank, FCMB, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Union Bank.