By Rosemary Onuoha, with agency report
LAGOS— Nigerian banks will try to stabilise the business of 9mobile until they can find new investors, Managing Director of FirstBank Plc, Mr. Adesola Adeduntan, has said.
According to Adeduntan, there was no need to impair loans made to the company because of its cash flows.
Adeduntan said: “On the part of lenders, we are trying to reposition the company till we find new investors. With the level of cash flow, we believe there will be no need for impairment.”
Another lender, FCMB, said lenders had agreed to extend a $1.2 billion loan, which the mobile operator, formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria, took out four years ago but struggled to repay due to a currency crisis and recession in Nigeria.
It will be recalled that Nigerian regulators stepped in last month to save Etisalat Nigeria from collapse and prevent lenders placing the country’s fourth biggest telecoms group into receivership, prompting a board, management and name change.
The local banks, which participated in the loan, many of which are reporting first-half results, have been trying to work out the value of 9mobile before deciding whether to impair the loan or wait until the company finds new investors.
Banks involved in the loan deal include Zenith Bank, GTBank, FirstBank, UBA , Fidelity Bank, Access Bank, Ecobank, FCMB, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Union Bank.
GTBank with $138 million in outstanding loans to 9mobile and Access Bank with $131 million are among the most exposed.
The telecoms group has asked Citigroup and Standard Bank to find an investor to buy into the firm while three companies have shown interest, a banking source close to the deal said.