Orange and Vodafone Group are in “strong running” to buy 65 per cent of Etisalat Nigeria following Etisalat’s exit from the troubled operator, according to local sources.
According to Brandish, “no fewer than five” companies have expressed interest in Etisalat Nigeria, although the two international telco giants have shown “concrete interest”. The potential hurdle, the report said, was the restructuring of the debt which caused the current uncertainty for the business.
The report also said the negotiators for Etisalat Nigeria – including representatives of its bankers and Nigerian regulators – are working to “mitigate any collateral damage and brand erosion” which could impact the new owners. Either way, a rebranding is likely to be an early priority for Orange or Vodafone if they become the successful owner, to shift away from the Etisalat name.
After the Nigerian business defaulted on its loan repayments, Etisalat was required to transfer its holding in the company to a consortium of lenders to the Nigerian operation.
UAE investment fund Mubdala was also reported to have pulled out, leaving Etisalat Nigeria in the hands of local banks.