The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have secured a reprieve for Etisalat on the $1.72 billion (N541.8 billion) loan crisis facing the company.
The Director of Public Affairs of NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, said in a statement on Saturday in Lagos, that the reprieve came following a meeting convened by CBN and NCC to find a quick resolution to the crisis.
”Friday’s meeting succeeded in halting the attempt by Etisalat’s creditors at bringing it under any form of takeover,” Ojobo said.
”Receivership was completely taken off the table in a meeting that was very productive and constructive.
”The meeting, which held at the CBN office in Lagos, had the consortium of banks being owed and Etisalat in attendance.
”The banks and the mobile network operator agreed to concrete actions that will bring all parties closest to a resolution.”
He said CBN and NCC were able to secure for Etisalat the necessary “oxygen” to enable it continue to meet urgent operational expenses.
Ojobo said the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who chaired the meeting, was firm in declaring what needed to be done by both parties towards a quick resolution.
He said the Commission equally made it clear that everything necessary must be done to protect the 23 million Etisalat subscribers.
The NCC spokesman said there was also the need to protect the telecom industry to prevent potential investors from developing cold feet.
According to him, effort has been made to ensure that Etisalat remains in business while the consortium of banks meet their obligations to their customers.
”A meeting will hold on March 16 to agree on a payment restructuring path going forward.
”The NCC will lead the CBN in a possible crucial meeting with Etisalat’s shareholders anytime soon,” he said.
A consortium of banks on March 8 attempted to take over Etisalat over the debt.
Etisalat is Nigeria’s fourth largest telecommunications operator with about 23 million subscribers as at January this year.
The company commenced operation in Nigeria in 2009.