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CBN makes key management appointments at Etisalat to drive transition process

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday, announced in Acting Capacity, one of its deputy governors, Dr. Joseph Nnanna as Chairman for a replacement of the founding chairman of Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Hakeem Bello-Osagie who resigned late last week.

Though analysts’ contacted by Business Hilights for a review of the emerging development found it hard to see the latest twist as a clear takeover by the apex bank, CBN further named as the new chief executive officer of the company, Boye Olusanya following the last week’s resignation of the company’s age-long CEO, Mr. Matthew Willsher.

It would be recalled that resignation spree at the embattled telecom group started with the Mudabala investors from Dubai whose six directors moved away from the company earlier last week following collapse of loan repayment talks.

The Dubai directors are yet to take position on whether Etisalat Nigeria will continue to use its name having pulled out from ownership of the company.

Another interim appointment made by the apex bank is Ms. Funke Ighodaro who will serve as the chief financial officer.

The Nnanna led management team has about three to six months to run the company pending the next line of action as may be decided by the apex bank.

The latest move by the apex bank in alliance with the telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is part of last minute effort to ensure that Etisalat remains a standing and moving company in the face of challenges trailing the company’s inability to repay its $1.2bn syndicated loan from 13 Nigerian banks in 2013 which was due for repayment since last quarter of 2016.

The move according to experts is to put the company in a transition process on a mutually agreed term.

Analysts say with these appointments, the coast is now wider and clearer for any set of investors with deep pockets capable of repaying the debts and activating the cash-strapped firm to profitability within record time.

Before now, there were speculations that the leading national carrier, Globacom was nursing plans for acquisition but latter developed cold feet due to undisclosed reasons. It was not however clear, if the dream is still alive after all.

Earlier in a terse statement, NCC on Tuesday claimed that Etisalat and its creditors have successfully reached an amicable resolution on key issues pertaining to the telecom’s indebtedness, noting that a smooth transitional process is currently ongoing on mutually agreed terms between parties.

The statement signed by the Commission’s Director Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo averred that NCC has been in the thick of negotiations between the banks and Etisalat.

The statement which read in parts said “The Commission is pleased to note that Etisalat and its creditors have successfully reached an amicable resolution of key issues pertaining to its indebtedness, and that a smooth transitional process is currently ongoing on mutually agreed terms”.

“The Commission is confident that the amicable resolutions reached by the parties will further strengthen Etisalat’s capacity to continue to provide services to it’s over 20 million customers and to fulfil its obligations to its other stakeholders as a going concern, regardless of any changes that the parties have agreed to Etisalat’s Ownership, its Board and/or its Executive Management.

“We further wish to assure that as empowered by the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, the Commission will continue to work assiduously with all industry stakeholders to ensure that the Nigerian telecommunications industry remains capable of playing its critical role as a key driver of national socio-economic development. NCC is mindful of the need to sustain the industry’s significant contribution to National GDP, employment and infrastructure roll-out at all times. The Commission’s intervention in the matter was informed by these considerations, and we are pleased at the success of the ongoing process.

“The Commission also wishes to acknowledge the pivotal role of the CBN in resolving the matter in a manner that protects the interests of all stakeholders – especially the creditor banks and Etisalat’s over 20million customers,” NCC said.