Etisalat’s Nigerian affiliate is in talks with local banks to renegotiate a $1.2 billion loan it took out four years ago to expand its network in the country after it missed payments, a senior executive told Reuters.
Ibrahim Dikko, vice president for regulatory affairs at Etisalat Nigeria, said Etisalat missed payments due to an economic downturn in Nigeria, a currency devaluation there and dollar shortages on the country’s interbank market. He said the telecoms firm was looking to renegotiate the terms of the loans.
“We are in discussions with our bankers and have been for quite a while. They have not taken over the business and we are hoping that we can resolve the issue and find a way to renegotiate terms,” Dikko told Reuters.
Nigeria has been running short of dollars as oil revenues have fallen along with the price of crude, pushing the economy into its first recession in a quarter of a century. This has weakened the local currency which trades at a lower level on the black market than the official interbank rate versus the dollar.
The dollar shortages have made it difficult for companies to get access to foreign currency and as a result have struggled to repay dollar debts.
Dikko said the business performed well last year and EBITDA (core profit) was positive