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Etisalat Nigeria’s new name, 9Mobile may have come from ‘9ja4life’


New website up before end of business today

With the effective change of brand name from Etisalat Nigeria to 9Mobile, after a crucial management meeting in Lagos, on Thursday, a new website which its construction started yesterday may be up and running before the end of today, Friday.

This was confided on Business Hilights by a top official of the group late yesterday.

The official also disclosed that “with the change of brand name which we achieved weeks ahead of deadline, all running adverts and promos bearing the former name may soon be suspended to pave way for new logo and awareness structures which may come out before the end of today, Friday or at least, early next week”

Though the official was economical with words on how the new name emerged, pundits who are not so surprised on the origin of the name, say it may not be unconnected with key market entry campaign hypes carried out during the launch of EMTS in Nigeria in 2008, which include ‘9ja’, ‘9ja4life’ and ‘0809ja’. The codes which many are beginning to see as good, was smartly adopted then to stand for the ‘Nigerianess’ of its origin.

However, efforts to confirm from the Director of Public Affairs at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Tony Ojobo on the matter failed as calls to his numbers on Thursday were returned with two sms, saying “Sorry, I am unable to take your call now. In a meeting,” and “Sorry, I can’t talk now”.

It would be recalled that the former parent investors who pulled out recently had given the Nigerian arm up to end of the month to rest Etisalat as a brand name.

Followers of the crisis can recall that until June 15, the United Arab Emirates, UAE, group was a major shareholder in Etisalat Nigeria, along with United Arab Emirates Sovereign Wealth Fund through Mubadala Development Company, Abu Dhabi.

The two affiliates controlled a combined 85 per cent equity in the telecom firm, with Myacinth holding 15 per cent stake through Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services, EMTS Holding BV, owned by former United Bank for Africa, UBA Chairman, Hakeem Bello-Osagie.

However, their ousters stemmed from their inability to effect an amicable resolution, via restructuring of the $1.2 billion (N377.4 billion) syndicated loan the telecom firm took in 2013 from a consortium of 13 Nigerian banks.

Etisalat Nigeria, Emirates Group disclosed in a filing with the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange it had transferred 100 per cent of its shares with EMTS Holding BV, a special purpose vehicle established in Netherlands, to United Capital Trustees Limited, legal trustees of the banks.

Several followers of the Etisalat loan default crisis wondered why the new name is coming barely hours the image maker, Mr. Ibrahim Dikko claimed that issues surrounding the brand name; Etisalat will not affect the company’s operations, as he did not give any sign that new name was underway.

Some other speculators on the matter wanted to argue that it may have come from the number of banks, but they are not nine but 13 consortium which knocked out the argument after all to technically lend credence to the ‘9ja’ argument as being the secret behind the name; 9Mobile.

Though notice of the change of name had been circulated among all the staff network around the country, no time frame had been given for the official launch.

According to the new chief executive, Mr. Boye Olusanya, the new management has been mandated to ensure the business was run as profitable venture, noting that “What is most important now is to ensure the business runs and meets its obligations. We will focus on getting the company back on track as soon as possible”.