Etisalat Nigeria, the local mobile unit of UAE telecoms group Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat), is still in talks with banks on a deal to restructure a USD1.2 billion loan, Reuters cites a company source as saying. Etisalat signed a USD1.2 billion loan with a consortium of 13 banks in May 2013 to refinance an existing USD650 million loan and to continue its network rollout and modernisation, but last month it was revealed that the operator had a missed payment due to an economic downturn and currency devaluation in the West African nation, as well as dollar shortages on the country’s interbank market.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) agreed with local banks to pursue a default deal rather than a receivership for Etisalat Nigeria, to avoid deterring investors and a wider debt crisis. According to the unnamed source, Etisalat and the consortium of lenders have yet to agree on a debt restructuring proposal. Previously it was reported that UAE parent Etisalat could sell a stake in Nigeria’s fourth largest mobile operator by subscribers, after the cellco’s debt is restructured.