The New Diplomat With Agency Report
Hakeem Belo-Osagie, the Chairman of Etisalat Nigeria, has on Friday resigned his appointment following the restructuring of the telecommunication company which was necessitated by the $588.6m debt owed a consortium of 13 banks.
According to Etisalat, Belo-Osagie had planned to leave immediately the banks made the take-over move, he opted to tarry until a road map for the company was finalised.
“The timing of the resignation was strategically delayed till now when stakeholders have agreed a plan and comes more than a week after Mubadala Development Company directors tendered their resignation,” the statement read.
“The development also reflects Belo-Osagie’s deep commitment to protecting the interest of all stakeholders.”
It is now expected that Etisalat Nigeria under its new shareholding structure will navigate through its current loan repayment challenge with minimum impact.
Over the last several months, Belo-Osagie worked extensively with critical stakeholders to prepare clearly articulated strategies and robust road maps that will mitigate the impact of the new shareholding restructuring and realignment on the operations and management of the fourth largest telecoms player in Nigeria.
With this development, the new board will assume control of Etisalat.
This is coming following interventions, which have been roundly applauded, from regulatory agencies, including the Nigeria Communications commission (NCC) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other stakeholders to ensure that the best decisions are taken in the interest of the subscribers, employees and the Nigerian economy.
Further announcements on the composition of the new board are expected from the stakeholders.
Etisalat Like UBA: Belo-Osagie’s Record of Financial Mismanagement Exposed
By ‘Dotun Akintomide
The New Diplomat recalls that Belo-Osagie, the ex-Etisalat Chairman was equally forced to resign in March 2004 as the chairman of the board of directors at the United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), one of the largest commercial banks in Nigeria. He resigned from the post in the wake of allegations made by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that the UBA had been involved in unlicensed foreign exchange trading. As a result of these allegations, Belo-Osagie was immediately blacklisted by the CBN.
In 2005, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had launched an investigation into Belo-Osagie’s chairmanship of the UBA, but the investigation was abruptly ended without filing charges against him at the court after which his named was removed from CBN’s blacklist in May 2010.
With the latest development, financial experts have continued to posit that, it thus appears, the businessman has a track record of being forced out of establishments on grounds of financial mismanagement.
Belo-Osagie who is the only surviving shareholder in the embattled mobile operator currently embroiled in a $1.2 billion loan repayment crisis with a consortium of 13 Nigerian banks, was the promoter of Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services, EMTS, which controlled 15 per cent of the equity holding of the company.
His resignation followed the withdrawal, two weeks ago, of the company’s major shareholder, Emirates Telecommunications Group Company, after its affiliate, Mubadala Development Company, had indicated its intention to withdraw from the company.
Last week, the United Arab Emirates, UAE, company, in a filing to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange in Abu Dhabi requested EMTS Holding BV to transfer all of its 85 per cent shareholdings in Etisalat Nigeria to United Capital Trustees Limited, the legal trustees of the banks, latest June 23, 2017.
Since then, Etisalat Nigeria had been logged in series of negotiations involving the consortium of banks, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to restructure the remains of the telephone operator’s management.
In 2013, Etisalat had obtained the syndicated loan from a consortium of 13 Nigerian banks, including Access Bank, Zenith Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, First Bank Limited, Fidelity Bank Plc, First City Monument Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Ecobank, United Bank for Africa Plc and Union Bank of Nigeria Plc.
The loan, which involved a foreign-backed guaranteed bond, was to help the mobile firm finance a major network rehabilitation, upgrade and expansion of its operational base in Nigeria.
However, its alleged failure to meet agreed debt servicing obligations with the banks since 2016 triggered a major crisis, culminating in the recent withdrawal of its majority shareholder and resignation of Belo-Osagie.