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Belo-Osagie resigns as Etisalat chairman

Ozioma Ubabukoh

The Chairman of Etisalat Nigeria, Hakeem Belo-Osagie, has resigned his position from the telecommunications company over the $588.6m debt owed a consortium of 13 banks.

The development came barely a week after the largest shareholder in Etisalat Nigeria, the Mubadala Development Company, pulled out of the company, having transferred its 45 per cent shares to the banking consortium.

Our correspondent gathered that six directors in the seven-man board of the telecoms company had earlier resigned, leaving only Belo-Osagie.

The six Mubadala and Etisalat Group appointed non-executive directors were non-Nigerians.

A statement from Etisalat Nigeria explained that Belo-Osagie had planned to leave immediately the banks made moves to take over the firm, but opted to tarry until a road map for the company was finalised.

The statement read in part, “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 development also reflects Belo-Osagie’s deep commitment to protecting the interest of all stakeholders.”

According to industry players, it is now expected that Etisalat Nigeria under its new shareholding structure will navigate through the current loan repayment challenge with minimum impact.

Meanwhile, Belo-Osagie’s resignation is causing panic among top management employees of Huawei and IHS, who say that the telco is also indebted to them.

A top management employee of Huawei, who pleaded not to be named, said, “The company (Etisalat) is indebted to us by over $200m and the agreement was that $10m would be paid monthly, which will serve as our operational cost for maintenance services and salaries to workers, who are mostly Nigerians.

“For three months now, we have not received a dime from them.”

It was also discovered that Etisalat owed tower firm, IHS Nigeria, over $40m.

IHS said that it had experienced instability in terms of timing of settlement of invoices with certain customers, including Etisalat.

In 2014, the World Bank lent $200m to the London-based African tower manager, IHS, for the acquisition of about 2,100 tower sites from Etisalat Nigeria. Under the Master Lease Agreement, Etisalat sold its tower assets to IHS, which in turn leased them back in exchange for lease rentals.

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Source: The Punch

Belo-Osagie resigns as Etisalat chairman

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