Barclays bank has been saddled with the responsibility to get new investors for 9mobile, formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria, Reuters reported.
The telecoms company was engulfed in a financial crisis after its inability to pay back a heavy loan it acquired from a consortium of banks to expand its operations in Nigeria. Reports have it that the loan was about $1.2b from 13 banks and the telecoms firm struggled to make payment but couldn’t due to the instability of the exchange rate at the time.
The central bank of Nigeria intervened to prevent the company from a total collapse which led to a change in its board members, management, as well as its brand, where it acquired the new name, 9mobile. One of the fatal decisions was to end its management agreement with its Nigerian business and to surrender its 45% stake to a trustee.
Sources reveal that prior to this mandate on Barclays, Citigroup and Standard Bank were in charge of the administration until recently when the lenders decided on a change due to previous links with the telecoms firm. Reuters reports that Barclays has resumed its duty and is in the actual process of setting a database for prospective investors.
A lot went down during the period of rebranding and now, Boye Olusanya, 9mobile Chief Executive Officer is somewhat pressured to get the telecoms company back on track, to make profits and raise new capital. As you know, the company has to make principal and interest payment on the loan, and these payments have been put on hold, pending when new investors will take over, in order to prevent another collapse.
There are no reports on the progress of the telecoms firm, just yet. 9mobile owns 14% (20 million subscribers) of the entire population of mobile phone users in the country, the least, among its competitors- MTN, Airtel, and Globacom. It couldn’t pay up its debt due to the economic crisis, an extension was given, yet, the economic situation isn’t any better and the exchange rate is still very much the same as at when the initial crisis broke out.