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$1.2b Loan: Banks Chose Barclays to Search Investors for 9mobile

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A British multinational bank and financial services company headquartered in London, Barclays Plc, has been selected by a consortium of Nigerian banks to look for new investors for 9mobile, formerly Etisalat Nigeria.

In the middle of this year, after failing to meet up with repayment plans of the $1.2 billion loan it took from over 10 banks, Etisalat Group pulled out of Etisalat Nigeria, warning that the use of its brand name in the country be stopped.

This led to the change of name of Etisalat Nigeria to 9mobile in July 2017.

The banks owed by 9mobile include Ecobank, Access Bank, Zenith Bank, GTBank, First Bank, UBA, Fidelity Bank, FCMB, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Union Bank, among others.

A report by Reuters on Thursday said the Nigerian lenders have picked Barclays to search for new investors for 9mobile.

Depending on two banking sources, Reuters said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had also asked the banks to take a five percent provision on a $1.2 billion syndicated loan to 9mobile in their third-quarter results, pending the emergence of new investors.

But Barclays could not be immediately reached for comment on this development.

Before now, there were indications that Citigroup and Standard Bank were parts of those to find new investors for the troubled firm.

However, there are fresh indications that Standard Bank was not chosen for the job because its arm in Nigeria, Stanbic IBTC Bank is among the banks 9mobile is owing, while Citigroup had advised the telecom company in the past.

At the peak of the crisis, Chairman of Etisalat Nigeria, Mr Hakeem Belo-Osagie, resigned from the position.

The consortium banks had attempted to take over the firm, but the CBN prevented this so as not to send a wrong signal to foreign investors.

A new management team was later constituted for the company, which saw Mr Joseph Nnanna emerging as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Etisalat Nigeria, now 9mobile.

Also, Mr Boye Olusanya, was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of the company, to replace Mr Matthew Willsher, while Mrs Funke Ighodaro took over from Mr Olawole Obasunloye as Chief Finance Officer (CFO).

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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