LAGOS, Aug 25 – The Africa Finance Corporation has approved a $230 million loan for Nigerian telecom company 9mobile, the firm said on Sunday.
The money will be used to honour existing debts, finance its costs and invest in growth, a 9mobile statement said.
9mobile, formerly called Etisalat Nigeria, is the country’s fourth-biggest telecoms operator and was operated by Abu Dhabi-based telecoms firm Etisalat until the local company defaulted on its debt, forcing lenders to step in to find new investors.
n a letter addressed to both the Board Chairman of the company Alhaji Nasiru Ado Bayero and Acting Managing Director, Stephane Beuvelet the financial institution said, “Africa Finance Corporation is pleased to inform Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services that it has received full Board approval to support the turnaround strategy of EMTS through a US$230 million super senior debt investment.” The facility divided into two tranches would, among others, be used to repay historic vendor obligations, finance costs and an interest reserve account and payment towards quick win Capital Expenditure, Capex, initiatives. The Ado Bayero-led Board and management of 9mobile had promised to return the telco to the path of growth and profitability through cost efficiency, innovative product development and network efficiency.
An excited Bayero, expressed happiness that 9mobile’s efforts to recover previously ceded ground through an innovative growth plan is being supported by a prestigious Pan-African financial institution such as the AFC.
He said: “We can only express gratitude to the AFC for approving this loan facility that would not only help our business sustainability but also grow it to serve our teeming and loyal customers in Nigeria better.
We have completely reviewed our operational, regulatory, financial and technical architecture to ensure we deliver quality services and this facility would go a long way in giving best in class services to Nigerians,” he said. Ado Bayero further assured of the company’s resolve to continue its aggressive enhancement of network capacity and innovative features to guarantee optimum value to customers.
He added that “our turnaround efforts are well and truly underway. We had promised when we took over that we would justify the confidence in our brand by making significant investments that will improve the value Nigerians get for using 9mobile.
This is part of fulfilling our promise.” Also commenting on the transaction, 9mobile’s Chief Financial Officer, Phillips Oki said, “the success of this transaction by way of the approval of the Board of Africa Finance Corporation is a sound affirmation of our belief that the fundamentals of the 9mobile business are indeed strong.
It is also an attestation to the fact that the operational restructuring and financial reengineering we have done since we assumed ownership have launched 9mobile on the path of growth and profitability. With this facility, our subscribers, staff and vendors should get ready to switch on to better days with 9mobile. We will reclaim every lost ground in the market in the coming months.”
It will be recalled that the new Board led by AlhajiBayero took over 9mobile in November 2018 following a successful acquisition by Teleology Nigeria Limited. Other members of the Board include non-executive directors, AsegaAliga, Mohammed Edewor and Winston NdubuezeUdeh. Executive Director, Abdulrahman Ado and Acting Managing Director, Stephane Beuvelet.
Competition in Nigeria’s mobile telecoms market is intense, with the biggest operator, MTN, expanding its service through partnerships with banks.