By Modupe Gbadeyanka
There are strong indications that one of the major telecoms firms in Nigeria, Etisalat, may be taken over by three Nigerian banks.
The financial institutions are Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank), Access Bank and Zenith Bank.
For a while now, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), the regulatory body for the telecommunications sector in the country, had tried to broker a peaceful resolution between Etisalat Nigeria and the consortium of banks.
However, it appears the effort may not have yielded a truce as the banks are set to take over the telecoms firm today (Wednesday).
Etisalat is Nigeria’s fourth largest telecoms operator, with about 21 million subscribers as at January 2017, according to the NCC. It commenced business in Nigeria in 2009.
According to Premium Times, the consortium of some foreign and the three Nigerian banks have been having a running battle with the mobile telephone operator over a loan facility totalling $1.72 billion (about N541.8 billion) obtained in 2015.
The loan, which involved a foreign-backed guaranty bond, was for Etisalat to finance a major network rehabilitation and expansion of its operational base in Nigeria.
But following the failure of the company to meet its debt servicing schedule agreed since 2016, the three Nigerian banks, prodded by their foreign partners, reported Etisalat to banking sector regulator, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its communications sector counterpart, the NCC.
Although Etisalat blamed its inability to fulfil its obligation to the banks on the current economic recession in Nigeria, the banks said their attempt to recover the loan by all means was fuelled by the pressure from the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), demanding immediate cut down on the rate of their non-performing loans.
A senior official of one of the banks who spoke with Premium Times late on Tuesday said one of the options they have proposed to Etisalat management as a middle way out of the crisis was for it to request for a bankruptcy status.
The official, who requested that his name should not be revealed, since he was not authorised to speak on behalf of the consortium, said the bankruptcy option would require having receivership management appointed by the banks to oversee its operations.
But, the NCC appears not to be favourably disposed to the takeover proposal, the source said, as it believes Etisalat was not only a viable going concern, but also willing and able to negotiate its loan servicing.
However, a top source at the NCC said late Tuesday that the commission had approved the takeover, which is expected to occur today.
ICPC Arrests Bank Manager for Failure to Properly Load Cash into ATMs
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Operation Manager of a branch of a commercial bank in Osogbo, Osun State, has been arrested by operatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
A statement issued by ICPC on Friday disclosed that the bank manager was apprehended by its compliance team and taken in for questioning.
It was alleged that the banker loaded the bank’s Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) with cash with their wrappers un-removed, thus preventing the cash from being dispensed to customers, who have formed long queues amid a scarcity of the Naira in the country.
According to the statement, when it discovered this anomaly, the team directed that the wrappers are removed, and the cash be loaded properly.
“However, when a follow-up visit was undertaken the following day to ascertain the level of compliance, the team discovered that one of the ATMs was still loaded with the wrappers un-removed,” the statement said, prompting his arrest.
In a related development, an official of another commercial bank in Abuja has been apprehended by the commission. The bank official was accused of deliberately refusing to load cash into the branch’s ATMs even when the cash was available and people were queuing at the ATM terminals.
According to the ICPC, when its monitoring team arrived at the bank at about 1:30 pm to ensure compliance and demanded an explanation as to why all the ATMs were not dispensing cash, it was informed by the branch’s Head of Operations that the bank just got delivery of the cash.
But the agency claimed that available facts indicated that the branch took delivery of the cash around 11:58 am and either wilfully or maliciously refused to feed the ATMs with the cash.
Against this backdrop, the ICPC team compelled the bank to load the ATMs with the redesigned Naira notes and ensured that they were all dispensing before arresting the culprit.
“Investigations are still ongoing, and the commission will take appropriate actions as soon they are concluded,” a statement from the ICPC said.
The organisation explained that it embarked on the monitoring “in continuation of its clampdown at elements frustrating efforts in making the redesigned Naira notes available to members of the public.”
Union Bank Secures IFC’s $30m Loan to Finance Trade, SMEs
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
A loan worth $30 million has been secured by Union Bank of Nigeria Plc from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to support small businesses in the country.
It was gathered that the credit facility would boost access to finance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria and support increased trade, as it would enable the bank to expand lending to hundreds of businesses operating in critical sectors in the country, including food, healthcare, manufacturing, and services.
The $30 million loan will allow Union Bank to increase trade financing and working capital lending to Nigerian businesses, including those whose cashflows have been strained by recent disruptions in global and local markets.
“As a bank, we are deeply committed to enabling success for SMEs. We understand the critical role of small businesses in leading Nigeria’s economy towards growth.
“This funding from IFC will enable us to extend financial relief to our customers during this difficult time. I am confident that the funds will help these businesses harness opportunities and preserve jobs,” the chief executive of Union Bank, Mr Mudassir Amray, said.
Also commenting on the development, IFC’s Senior Country Manager for Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Mr Kalim Shah, said, “Strengthening supply chains and trade flows through working capital financing sets the stage for faster growth and economic diversification in Nigeria.
“IFC’s partnership with Union Bank is part of a wider strategy to ensure the flow of goods and services are sustained despite global trade disruptions.”
The credit facility to Union Bank is being made through IFC’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Working Capital Solutions Envelope, which was launched in 2020 to provide funding to existing IFC clients in emerging markets that will then extend new loans to companies affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Recent disruptions to the global economy following COVID-19, including from rising inflation and limited access to finance, have left many businesses in Nigeria, particularly SMEs, struggling with supply chain shortages, increased cost of doing business and limited trade growth.
The partnership with Union Bank underscores IFC’s commitment to supporting smaller businesses in Nigeria, helping them preserve and create jobs and access critical inputs.
The loan is supported by the blended finance facility of the International Development Association’s Private Sector Window, which mitigates the financial risks associated with investments in sectors like SMEs and agribusiness.
IFC has an active investment portfolio of $2.3 billion in Nigeria – the second largest in Africa after South Africa – across sectors including agribusiness, healthcare, manufacturing, infrastructure, technology, and financial services.
New Notes: CBN Directs Banks to Payout Maximum N20,000 Daily Via Tellers
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) have been directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to pay their customers the new Naira notes a maximum of N20,000 daily.
This was contained in a statement issued on Thursday, February 2, 2023, by the apex bank, signed by its spokesman, Mr Osita Nwanisobi.
According to the CBN, this development is to ease the sufferings Nigerians are going through to access the new banknotes from their banks and other channels.
Earlier, Business Post reported that commercial banks were not paying their customers because of a cash crunch. Most banks were unable to honour the cash withdrawals of their customers because they had no new notes to pay and were not allowed to pay with the old currency notes.
In the statement released today, the central bank said it “noticed the queues at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across the country and an upward trend in the cases of people stocking and aggregating the newly introduced banknotes they serially obtain from ATMs for reasons best known to them. Also worrisome are the reported cases of unregistered persons and non-bank officials swapping banknotes for members of the public, purportedly on behalf of the CBN.”
The bank said to ease the pressure, the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, “has directed deposit money banks (DMBs) to commence the payment of the redesigned Naira notes over-the-counter (OTC), subject to a maximum daily payout limit of N20,000.”
However, the CBN warned “Nigerians, particularly those at social functions such as birthdays, weddings and funerals, to desist from disrespecting the Naira or risk being arrested by law enforcement agencies,” stressing that, “The Naira is our legal tender and symbol of national pride. Therefore, let us respect it and handle it with care.”
The apex bank urged “members of the public to embrace and adopt other payment channels for their transactions.”
Latest News on Business Post
- AI Could Completely Transform Interactive Advertising February 4, 2023
- Demand Pressure Jerks NGX All-Share Index to 54,213.09 points February 4, 2023
- Naira Shortage: President Buhari Calls for Calm February 4, 2023
- Local Currency Appreciates at P2P, I&E, Depreciates at Black Market February 4, 2023
- Brent Falls Below $80 on Fresh Rate Hike Concerns February 4, 2023
- ICPC Arrests Bank Manager for Failure to Properly Load Cash into ATMs February 3, 2023
- IGP Orders Arrest, Prosecution of Sellers of Naira February 3, 2023
- EFCC Grills Actress Simi Gold for Spraying New Naira Notes February 3, 2023
- Violent Protest Erupts in Ibadan Over Naira Scarcity February 3, 2023
- APC Governors Beg Buhari to Allow Use of Old, New Naira Notes February 3, 2023