9Mobile: Banks To Extend Loan Pending Sale
Nigerian banks that facilitated a $1.2 billion loan made to 9mobile, formerly Etisalat Nigeria, have agreed to an extension pending when the mobile operator finds new investors.
Etisalat Nigeria took out a $1.2 billion loan four years ago from 13 local banks to refinance existing debt and expand its mobile network, but it struggled to repay due to a currency crisis and a recession in Nigeria.
FCMB, which is owed N4.5 billion by the telecoms group, said lenders had put a hold on taking provisions on the debt and that they were working with the regulators.
“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,” Reuters quoted the bank.
The banks, 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, GTB, First Bank, UBA, Fidelity, Access, Ecobank, FCMB, Stanbic IBTC and Union Bank.
GTB Bank with $138 million in outstanding loans to 9mobile and Access Bank with $131 million are among the most exposed.
9mobile chief executive Boye Olusanya told Reuters he was focused on getting the telecoms group back on track to make a profit, while working on the paperwork to eventually raise new capital.
9Mobile has appointed advisers, which include Standard Bank of South Africa and Citibank of New York to receive, evaluate bids.