We have made progress on talks to restructure $1.2 billion loan – Etisalat


Talks between the Nigerian arm of Abu Dhabi’s Etisalat and its lenders to renegotiate the terms of a $1.2 billion loan are continuing and progress has been made, the company said on Wednesday.

The telecoms company signed the seven-year facility with 13 local banks in 2013 to refinance a $650 million loan and fund expansion of its network but is now struggling to repay the debt.

Sources told Reuters on Tuesday that talks had reached an impasse but that lenders, under pressure to avoid loan-loss provisions, were pushing to finalise the restructuring before next month’s half-yearly audit.

“Discussions are not only ongoing with our bankers, but good progress has been made so far,” said Ibrahim Dikko, Etisalat Nigeria’s vice president, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs.

“We are optimistic that an agreement will be reached shortly.”

Nigeria’s No.4 mobile operator, with 20 million subscribers for a 14 percent market share, is the biggest foreign-owned victim of the dollar shortages plaguing the financial system in Africa’s biggest economy.

Companies invested aggressively in the West African nation in the era of high oil prices but are now struggling to repay loans as the OPEC member contends with a slump in oil revenue that has hit currency and dollar reserves. (REUTERS).M



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