By Bankole Wright
The consortium of 13 banks involved in Etisalat Nigeria loan on Thursday downplayed reports that they have taken over the operations of the company.
A management source close to the banks who pleaded anonymity said in Lagos that it was all a lie, Punch reports.
The source said that the banks’ were more interested in getting back the loans borrowed and not the company.
“We are not telecommunication companies, all we want is our money,” he said.
The source said that the company must pay back the loans in order not to compromise the economy, jobs, payment of dividends and depositors funds.
He stated that it was not only the banks that would suffer but billions of Nigerians, even the vendors, and distributors doing business with the company.
“We did not take over Etisalat as being insinuated, if we have taken over, it has to be registered with the CAC.
“They are still doing their business, they just want to weep up sentiment at the United Arab Emirates,” the source added.
He added that the company had about 20 million subscribers, adding that any interruption would affect many businesses, especially SMES.
According to the source, the affected Nigerian banks are owed about $570m out of the $1.2bn syndicated loan with the balance being owed vendors and distributors, among others.
The source said that Etisalat wanted to pay only 10 per cent of the loan borrowed and requested that others should be written off as non-performing loan.
He said that Etisalat wanted the consortium of banks to pay $50m out of $570m being owed, which the banks rejected.
The source added that the banks practically reduced the debt to between 20 per cent and 30 per cent at a discounted interest rate of six percent below the market rate which was rejected by Etisalat.
“All we are requesting is for the Federal Government to wade into the issue and carry out due diligence on what the loan was used for.
“A foreign company cannot come and ride us in Nigeria, if this issue is not handled carefully, others will do the same thing,” the source said.
The source said that the company was avoiding negotiations which made the affected banks to fly to London earlier in the year to have a discussion with a company with its office in Nigeria.
He said that the company was advised earlier before naira devaluation to convert the foreign loans to local currency due to fall in oil price at the global market, which it also rejected.