$1.2b Debt: CBN Orders Banks to Stay Off Etisalat
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The consortium of 13 banks led by Access Bank, which reportedly took over operations of Etisalat Nigeria after talks on how to pay a $1.2 billion loan failed, has been told to maintain status quo for now.
This directive was given by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which waded into the issue.
CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, was said to have spoken to CEOs of the affected banks on phone, where he called for calm pending outcome on further discussions.
According Vanguard, industry sources revealed that the lenders have been directed to get approval from the CBN before taking any further decision on the matter.
It quoted a source to have said that the banks are actually not interested in taking over the telecom firm, but recoup the loan.
“They are not interested and they are not taking over Etisalat. They did not request for the transfer of the shares of UAE’s Etisalat shares to United Capital. All they are pushing for is repayment of the loans. Don’t forget that the money does not belong to the banks but to their depositors,” Vanguard reports.
However, it was reported by the same journal that Etisalat had been servicing the debts up to 50 percent.
“The actual outstanding on the loan is about $500 million (about N165 billion). This is in view of the fact that Etisalat has efficiently serviced the $1.2 billion loan up until earlier this year when discussions with the banks regarding the repayment restructuring commenced.
“I can confirm to you, in confidence, that we have made repayment of over 50 percent of the original loan so far,” the source was quoted as saying.
In all, Etisalat has assured its subscribers that services would not be compromised because of these developments. It however confirmed that a restructuring of its management might happen.