Eight Nigerian banks have syndicated credit facility to Etisalat Nigeria Limited valued at $650million (about N97.5billion). It is a seven- year long term facility targeted at funding the expansion projects of the mobile telecom operator.
Interest rate on the facility was not disclosed as according to the Managing Director of Etisalat, Mr Steve Evans, “it is a matter of commercial confidentiality”
The sighing agreement for the facility was held in Lagos Thursday, with Citibank as the Financial Adviser to the transaction and Banwo & Ighodalo as Legal Adviser.
The eighth Nigerian banks that participated in the loan syndication are First Bank, Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Fidelity Bank, United Bank for Africa, Bank PHB, Guaranty Trust Bank and Oceanic Bank.
Evans said the facility is a landmark development in the telecommunications sector for 2011, and will offer the company the opportunity to aggressively intensify Etisalat Nigeria’s network expansion across the country and offer even better quality service to its over seven million customers.
“We are delighted to have this facility and the additional funds will be used to roll out both our 3G and 2G network on a national basis bringing our world-class service to every part of the country.We are committed to continuing to be the fastest growing most innovative mobile operator in the market and believe that our focus on providing the highest level of customer service and quality of service is what Nigerian consumers have been asking for and deserve”, Evans said.
Managing Director of Citibank, Mr Emeka Enuwa, said the fund was raised wholly by Nigerian banks, which according to him demonstrates two things – first that local banks have regained strength after the devastation in the banking industry and second that the banks repose confidence in the operations of Etisalat.
Speaking about the loan signing, EMTS Chairman, Hakeem Belo-Osagie, noted that the loan represents a critical milestone in the growth of the company.
“It is significant that Nigerian banks are availing us of a facility, which will be a boost for our long term growth and by implication growth for the sector and the wider economy. The loan underpins their belief in and support for the EMTS vision and the Management Team of the business. We are grateful for the support of all the lending banks whose contribution made this loan possible. We must also acknowledge the critical contribution of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the regulatory agencies, who have together created an enabling environment that has made our success possible.”
EMTS (Etisalat Nigeria) is a GSM operator in Nigeria, operated in partnership with Etisalat, the leading mobile operator in the Middle East. EMTS also has Mubadala, the sovereign wealth fund of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Myacynth, representing Nigerian nationals as major shareholders.