New board composition raises concerns over Etisalat’s ownership structure


The constitution of a new board for Etisalat Nigeria has raised concerns over the ownership structure of the company as the new board consists of staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria, KPMG, Dangote Group and PwC.

A statement by Etisalat on Tuesday said, “As a result of the on-going restructuring efforts, a new board has been constituted. It comprises of Dr Joseph Nnanna, Chairman; Mr Oluseyi Bickersteth, Mr Ken Igbokwe, Mr Boye Olusanya and Mrs. Funke Ighodaro.”

The statement added that “Mr Boye Olusanya has been confirmed as Chief Executive Officer, to replace Mr. Matthew Willsher, while Mrs Funke Ighodaro takes over from Mr Olawole Obasunloye as Chief Finance Officer.”

However, the composition of the new board is raising concerns among some stakeholders over the status of the telecoms company.

The new chairman, Dr Joseph Nnanna, is a CBN Deputy Governor in charge of Financial System Stability. He currently represents the apex bank on the board of Africa Finance Corporation as chairman. Bickersteth is the National Senior Partner of KPMG Professional Services Ltd, while Igbokwe is with the PwC.

Apart from being a former MD of Celtel, Olusanya was until this new appointment, the Managing Director of Dancom, a subsidiary of Dangote Group. Mrs Ighodaro was also until her new appointment, the CFO of Tiger Brands, which bought majority shares in Dangote Flour Mills in October 2012 and divested in 2015.

However, those contacted both at Etisalat and the CBN were not forthcoming with the ownership structure of the telecommunications company.

One source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, “Discussions are still on between the regulators and the banks. That is the stage we are at the moment.”

Etisalat has had a running battle with a consortium of 13 banks that provided it with a $1.2bn medium-term seven-year facility for the purpose of expanding its network and improving the quality of service on its network as a result of its inability to meet up with repayment requirement.

The plan to restructure the loan hit the rocks as the banks insisted on the telecoms company keeping to the earlier terms. This forced the parent company in Abu Dhabi to shed its equity while the former board chairman, Hakeem Bello-Osagie also resigned.

Meanwhile, the National Communications Commission (NCC) on Tuesday assured Etisalat’s subscribers of the telecom’s integrity.

A statement signed by Tony Ojobo, NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, expressed the regulator’s pleasure that Etisalat and its creditors had reached “an amicable resolution of key issues pertaining to its indebtedness.”

It added, “The Commission is confident that the amicable resolutions reached by the parties will further strengthen Etisalat’s capacity to continue to provide services to its over 20 million subscribers and to fulfill its obligations to its other stakeholders as a going concern.”

NCC assured that as a regulator it would continue “to work assiduously with all industry stakeholders to ensure that the Nigerian telecommunications industry remains capable of playing its critical role as a key driver of national socio-economic development.”