n confirmation of its withdrawal from Nigeria, the Abu Dhabi-based Etisalat Group announced Monday that it had terminated its management agreement with its Nigerian arm and gave Etisalat Nigeria three weeks to phase out the brand in the country.
The decision of the Abu Dhabi-owned network operator, which once held a 45 per cent stake
in Etisalat Nigeria and 25 per cent of its preference shares, arose
after its $1.2 billion loan talks with 13 Nigerian banks collapsed.
Chief Executive of Etisalat International Hatem Dowidar said Monday that
there was no need for the brand in Nigeria after the collapse of the
loan talks. However, he was silent on the loan repayment to the Nigerian
Nigerian regulators had intervened last week to save
Etisalat Nigeria from collapse after talks with its lenders to
renegotiate a $1.2 billion loan had failed.
Nigeria, in a statement issued three weeks ago, had claimed that it had
repaid 42 per cent of the loan, leaving an outstanding $574 million.
“As at today, we can categorically state that the outstanding loan sum
to the consortium (of banks) stands at $227m and N113bn, a total of
about $574m if the naira portion is converted to U.S. Dollars.
essence, means almost half of the original loan of $1.2bn, has been
“Etisalat continued to service the loan up until February
2017, when discussions with the banks regarding the repayment
restructuring commenced,” Ibrahim Dikko, vice-president, Regulatory
& Corporate Affairs of Etisalat Nigeria had said.
Etisalat Group announced Monday that it was pulling out, as all UAE
shareholders of the company had exited and left the board and management
of the Nigerian brand, reported Reuters.
Dowidar said discussions
were ongoing with Etisalat Nigeria to provide technical support, adding
that it could use the brand for another three weeks before phasing it
Nothing was said about how this will affect the network and its
integrity as million of Nigerians are subscribed to the network.
June, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had assured the
public that the network’s integrity would not be compromised amid the
Accordingly, the NCC in conjunction with the
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had mediated by holding several meetings
with the banks, Etisalat and other stakeholders to find a solution.
Following the intervention, Etisalat announced an interim board of
directors to be chaired by Dr. Joseph Nnanna, a deputy governor of the
Reacting to Etisalat Group’s statement Monday, a source close
to Etisalat Nigeria said the ultimatum was not unusual since its
management had known that they would have to change the brand identity,
following the withdrawal of the Abu-Dhabi-based parent company from its
According to the source, the Nigerian investors
in Etisalat Nigeria, represented by Emerging Markets Telecommunications
Services (EMTS) hold just a 15 per cent stake in the business, so it
was only right for a change in brand identity.
Although he said no
date had been fixed to announce the new brand, he said that it would be
made public before the expiration of the three weeks given by Etisalat
However, EMTS, trading as Etisalat Nigeria, said in a
statement Monday night that it was aware of news reports regarding
Etisalat Group’s withdrawal of the right to the continued use of the
Etisalat brand in Nigeria by EMTS.
According to a statement signed
by Dikko, EMTS has a valid and subsisting agreement with the Etisalat
Group, which entitles EMTS to use the Etisalat brand, notwithstanding
the recent changes within the company.
“Indeed, discussions are
ongoing between EMTS and Etisalat Group pertaining to the continued use
of the brand, and EMTS will issue a formal statement once discussions
“The final outcome on the use of the brand in no way
affects the operations of the business as our full range of services
remain available to our customers,” he said.
He added that EMTS
launched in Nigeria in 2008 with ‘0809ja’ to affirm the “Nigerianness of
our origin and sphere of influence. In our nine years of operation, we
have remained a prime driver and avid supporter of the Nigerian spirit
of excellence, and we will continue to stay true to our ‘Naijacentric
“This notion is strongly reflected in our core messages
and depicted in major projects and initiatives which we have been known
to support. All these initiatives have their foundation embedded in
supporting key aspects of the Nigerian fabric: building Nigerian
businesses and empowering Nigerians with a focus on the youth.
“Nigeria remains the soul of EMTS’ business and we have made the brand
alluring to our teeming subscribers who see a piece of the spirit and
character of Nigeria in everything we do.
“EMTS is here to stay and
we wish to assure our esteemed customers that our core values of
youthfulness, customer-centricity and innovation will remain the pillars
on which we operate. We thank our esteemed customers for their abiding
faith in us,” he said.