CBN, NCC Meet With Banks in Bid to Stop Etisalat Takeover
Top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Thursday met to discuss the imminent takeover of telecommunications firm, Etisalat, by some banks for failing to repay its debts.
At the meeting held at the CBN headquarters in Abuja, the apex bank and the telecommunications sector regulator agreed to intervene to prevent the Etisalat takeover.
NCC spokesman, Tony Ojobo, in a short statement, said the meeting between the NCC Executive Vice Chairman Prof. Umar Danbatta and the CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele was convened at the instance of the NCC which was worried by the attempt to takeover Etisalat.
“At the end of the meeting, the CBN agreed to invite Etisalat management and the banks to a meeting tomorrow (today), towards finding an amicable resolution,” Ojobo said.
He added that “The NCC, as a regulator of the telecom industry had moved quickly to intervene earlier in the week by reaching out to the CBN convinced of the negative impact such a bank takeover will have on the industry.
“NCC was worried about the fate of the over 20 million Etisalat subscribers and the wrong signals this may send to potential investors in the telecom industry,” Ojobo said.
The Nation reports that one of the lenders, Access Bank on Thursday said Etisalat was owing it N40 billion ($131 million).
The lender’s Chief Executive, Herbert Wigwe, said the loan talks were triggered 10-days ago when the company asked lenders to “stand still” on the loan for it to review its operations.
In recent months, a number of big companies had been taken over by their lenders especially the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) which took over the Silverbird Cinemas in 2016 and most recently Arik Air for failing to repay heavy debts.
The Etisalat takeover, should it go through, is expected to affect some of the sponsorship programmes of the company such its support for literary contests and notable music artistes among others.
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