Etisalat Nigeria is changing its brand name to 9Mobile, it was gathered yesterday.
The Chief Executive, Etisalat International, Hatem Dowidar, had announced a programme of phase out of the brand in the country after the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) failed to settle the fracas that attended the inability of Etisalat to continue payment of the $1.2billion facility drawn from 13 local lenders failed.
Etisalat blamed its failure on economic recession and government policies that increased the mortality rate of businesses in the country.
But the NCC said it is yet to receive any formal request for name change from the telco. Its Director, Public Affairs, Mr Tony Ojobo, said the regulator has not received any notification from Etisalat, adding that it may have been an internal arrangement by the new board and management of the telco to beat the three-week deadline given to the telco by its parent company.
“I think it is an internal arrangement by the management to adopt a name and when they agree, they will notify the Commission. What is important is the structure of the shareholding in the telco not necessarily the name,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.
According to him, there are so many telecoms companies bearing different names without having any spectrum. He said what is important is the operating licence of the telco and not the name it adopts.
Calls to Etisalat Nigeria Vice President, Regulatory & Corporate Affairs, Ibrahim Dikko were not picked while a text message to his mobile number failed to elicit any response.
Earlier, Etisalat, with a 45 per cent stake in the Nigerian business, had been ordered to transfer its shares to a loan trustee after the talks failed.
Mr. Dowidar had said all UAE shareholders of Etisalat Nigeria, including state-owned investment fund Mubadala, had exited the company and left the board and management.
He said discussions were ongoing with Etisalat Nigeria to provide technical support, adding that it could continue to use the brand for another three weeks before phasing it out.
“There’s a new board and we are not part of that company. We have sent our termination letter for the management agreement,” the Etisalat chief had said.
On July 4, a new board was appointed for Etisalat Nigeria by the CBN, NCC and the lenders, to handle the smooth transition of the telco after a reallocation of shares.
A former deputy Managing Director, Celtel Nigeria (now Airtel Nigeria), Boye Olusanya, was appointed as the chief executive officer of Etisalat Nigeria to replace Mathiew Willsher. Dr. Jpseph Nnanna, a Deputy Governor (Financial System Stability) at CBN was appointed the chair of the board.
NCC has warned the lenders that the licence awarded to Etisalat Nigeria, with 21million customers already, is not transferable to stop the banks from taking ownership of the company.