Interim board to determine Etisalat’s fate in six months
The newly appointed seven-member board of Etisalat will determine the affairs of the embattled telecommunications firm after the next six months, during which effective decisions on outright sale or merger options will be taken.
Etisalat, which controls 13 per cent market share in Nigeria has had a running battle with 13 consortium of banks since March, after it notified them of its inability to meet the servicing of its $1.2 billion debt in February due to the foreign exchange challenges in the country. Ensuing events forced the resignation of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Matthew Willsher and Olawole Obasunloye respectively on Monday.
Those privy to the meeting, where a truce was brokered by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) between Etisalat and the lenders on Monday, confirmed to The Guardian yesterday that the options before the new board will be to decide whether the telecommunications firm will merge with an existing operator or be sold outrightly.
Part of the truce reached at the meeting, according to information gathered by The Guardian was that the lending bankers, which are very much interested in getting back their money, would have four members on the board.
These include the CEO; CFO; Company Secretary and one other member. Government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would have one, while shareholders would have two. The CBN nominated Dr. Joseph Nnanna, a Deputy Governor, Operations at the apex bank as the Chairman of the board, while the bankers nominated Boye Olusanya and Mrs. Funke Ighodaro as new CEO and CFO respectively.
Olusanya, a former Deputy CEO and subsequently the Acting CEO of Econet Wireless in 2001 takes over from Willsher, while Ighodaro replaced Obasunloye. Ighodaro’s portfolio reads Executive Director, Finance.Other members of the board include Oluseyi Bickersteth and Ken Igbokwe as non-executive directors.
Meanwhile, a statement from NCC alerted the public to the fact that a smooth transitional process has been put in place to ensure continuous running of the telecommunications firm without hitches.
NCC said is confident that the amicable resolutions reached by the parties will further strengthen Etisalat’s capacity to continue to provide services to its over 20 million customers and to fulfill its obligations to its other stakeholders as a going concern, regardless of any changes that the parties have agreed to its (Etisalat) ownership, its board and/or its executive management.