According to Brandish, “no fewer than five” companies have expressed interest to buy Etisalat Nigeria, with Orange and Vodafone Group shown “concrete interest” for 65 per cent shares.
The potential hurdle, the report said, was the restructuring of the debt which caused the current uncertainty for the business.
The report also said the negotiators for Etisalat Nigeria – including representatives of its bankers and Nigerian regulators – are working to “mitigate any collateral damage and brand erosion” which could impact the new owners. Either way, a rebranding is likely to be an early priority for Orange or Vodafone if they become the successful owner, to shift away from the Etisalat name.
After the Nigerian business defaulted on its loan repayments, Etisalat was required to transfer its holding in the company to a consortium of lenders to the Nigerian operation.
UAE investment fund Mubadala was also reported to have pulled-out, leaving Etisalat Nigeria in the hands of local banks.
Etisalat had been in talks with Nigerians banks to restructure a $1.2billion trade facility after missing repayments, but the talks failed to produce tangible result.
Zenith Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, First Bank, United Bank for African, Fidelity Bank, Access Bank, Ecobank, FCMB, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Union Bank are involved in the loan deal.
The telco said it had serviced its debt obligation up until February 2017. According to the company, the outstanding loan sum to the lenders stands at $227m and N113bn, bringing the total to $574m if the naira portion is converted to US dollars.