Etisalat Nigeria, the embattled mobile cellular network, which parted ways with Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (ETC), following the termination of a management agreement, has dropped the trade name of the latter and would henceforth be known as 9Mobile.
Though there is no official confirmation yet from the new managers of the telecommunications company, 9Mobile is also expected to drop the domain name, www.etisalat.com.ng, following the ultimatum handed the Nigerian firm by ETC, also known as Etisalat.
The Abu Dhabi telco terminated its management agreement with its Nigerian arm following a protracted debt overhang to 13 Nigerian banks. It also gave the Nigerian entity a three-week ultimatum to phase out the brand in Nigeria.
The Nigerian company had traded with the name Etisalat before the breakdown of the relationship with Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd. (EMTS) and would now trade as 9Mobile going forward.
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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had intervened to save Etisalat Nigeria from collapse after talks with its lenders to renegotiate a $1.2 billion loan failed.
Hatem Dowidar, chief executive of Etisalat International had told Reuters late last week that his company had given three weeks for the Nigerian operators to phase out Etisalat in Nigeria, adding that the company, with a 45 percent stake in the Nigerian business, is transferring its shares to a trustee after talks to renegotiate a $1.2 billion loan failed.
Dowidar said all UAE shareholders of Etisalat Nigeria, including state-owned investment fund Mubadala, had exited the company and left the board and management.
“There’s a new board and we are not part of that company. We have sent our termination letter for the management agreement,” he said.
When asked if the company will return to the country anytime soon, Dowidar said “the train has left the station on that one. Being in that market as an investor … are we willing to risk more money compared to the reward for the long-term?”