Nigerian banks have agreed to extend a USD1.2 billion loan issued to 9mobile until the wireless operator finds new investors, Reuters reports, citing one of the lenders, FCMB. Then known as Etisalat Nigeria, the country’s fourth largest cellco by subscribers defaulted on the loan with a consortium of 13 local banks earlier this year, and discussions on a debt restructuring plan between the operator and its lenders did not lead to a resolution. Etisalat Group of the UAE was ordered to transfer its 45% to United Capital Trustees, the security trustee of the firm’s lenders, and terminated its existing management and technical support agreements with the cellco, which was rebranded to 9mobile last month. According to reports, the consortium of banks has appointed advisers, including Standard Bank and Citibank, to receive and evaluate bids for 9mobile.
FCMB, which is owed NGN4.5 billion (USD13.0 million) by 9mobile, said lenders have delayed taking provisions on the debt and had agreed to extend the loan pending the sale to new investors. Other banks involved in the loan deal include Zenith Bank, GT Bank, First Bank, UBA, Fidelity Bank, Access Bank, Ecobank, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Union Bank.