Nigerian banks agree to extend 9mobile’s loan till it finds new investors

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A consortium of Nigerian banks has agreed to extend 9mobile’s $1.2 billion loan, till the telecoms operator find new investors, according to FCMB bank.

FCMB on Tuesday, said the lenders have postponed taking provisions on the debt. “In terms of provisioning, there is hold on that. What we have agreed is an extension and we have agreed to extend pending the sale to new investors,” the bank said.

The lenders have been trying to work out the value of 9mobile before making a decision on whether to impair the loan or wait until the company finds new investors. Etisalat Nigeria acquired a $1.2 billion loan four years ago from 13 local banks to refinance existing debt and grow its mobile network but the company had struggled to repay the loan due to a currency crisis and a recession in the country. The banks include, Zenith Bank, GT Bank, First Bank, UBA, Fidelity Bank, Access Bank, Ecobank, FCMB, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Union Bank.

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Nigerian regulators last month, stepped in to save the telecoms group from collapse and prevent the lenders from placing the company under receivership. This had resulted in a board, management and name change.

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The chief executive of 9mobile, Boye Olusanya (photo), recently told Reuters that he is making efforts to get the company back on track to make profit. He also asked regulators for concessions on spectrum and access to foreign exchange to help boost revenues.

9mobile has appointed Citigroup and Standard Bank to find an investor to buy into the firm.


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