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…Threatens showdown with Nigerian investors
By Olabisi Olaleye, with Agency report
Mubadala, majority shareholder, representing Etisalat of UAE has threatened a showdown if Nigerian investors fail to drop its brand name (Etisalat) from the local arm at the expiration of three weeks.
In a twist yesterday, Etisalat terminated its management agreement with its Nigerian affiliate and gave the managers three weeks to phase out the brand in Nigeria.
Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat International, Hatem Dowidar, disclosed that all the UAE investors had exited the company and have left the board and management and sees no reason the Nigerian operation should retain its brand name.
He however stated that discussions were ongoing with Etisalat Nigeria to provide technical support, adding that it can use the brand for another three-weeks after which it must have to adopt another name to continue with the telecommunications business.
Although, telecoms stakeholders have decried such a short notice insisting that Etisalat Nigeria should at least be given a six month grace period to implement the phase out.
Some of them who pleaded anonymity disclosed that the time frame was too short for the new board and investors to effect the change.
According to them, name change should be gradual and not a spontaneous thing.
But President, A ssociation of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (Atcon), Olusola Teniola, disclosed that the chain reactions are normal in a takeover of a company, saying “In effect, there is new management running Etisalat and an official announcement has been communicated , whatever the case, would be sorted out.
“Well, the customer is king and it is for the new board and new shareholders to decide what quality of service they want to render the current Etisalat subscribers. I would have thought that both CBN and NCC would make sure that there is way forward to know whether the brand should remain and whether it will not adversely affect the telecommunications firm stressing the implications could be small or large depending on how the board steers the company”.
Similarly an industry analyst, Ifeanyi Ibe, said only the financially stable and strongest may survive the current wave threatening to submerge the telecoms industry.
It would be recalled that NCC and CBN, both regulators intervened last week to save Etisalat Nigeria from collapse after talks with its lenders to renegotiate a $1.2 billion loan failed. Recall that only last week, the company now going through some restructuring had appointed Dr Joseph Nnanna, a deputy governor at the Central Bank of Nigeria as its chair while Mr Boye Olusanya and Funke Ighodaro.were named Managing Director and Chief Finance Officer respectively.
Mr. Nnanna succeeded Hakeem Bello-Osagie, who was the only surviving shareholder after the June 15 withdrawal of the major shareholder, Emirates Telecommunications Group Company, from the company. Other members of the new Board and management of the company as announced by the its spokesperson, Ibrahim Dikko, include Oluseyi Bickersteth, Ken Igbokwe, Under the new management’
The Emirates Group, also known as Etisalat Group, was represented by its affiliate, Mubadala Development Company, a United Arab Emirate, (UAE), development firm.
The Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC) on Tuesday indicated its support for the new management of the embattled telephone operator, Etisalat Nigeria, which is currently trying to restructure its management and operations.
The NCC said it was pleased that parties to the crisis were able to reach amicable terms that have set them on the path of resolving the crisis.
“The Commission is pleased to note that Etisalat and its creditors have successfully reached an amicable resolution of key issues pertaining to its indebtedness, and that a smooth transitional process is currently ongoing on mutually agreed terms,” said Director, Public Affairs of the Commission, Tony Ojobo, said in a statement.
He noted further that the Commission was confident the amicable resolutions reached by the parties will further strengthen Etisalat’s capacity to continue to provide services to its over 20 million customers and equally fulfill its obligations to its other stakeholders.