9mobile Gets $230m Loan Facility to Boost Growth Plan

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Emma Okonji

Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) has announced the approval of a $230 million loan facility for 9mobile to help it attain its long-term growth plans.

The new Board and Management of Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Limited (EMTS), trading as 9mobile, in a statement yesterday, signed by its Executive Director, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, Abdulrahman Ado, said the approval was part of its efforts to secure loan facility from the AFC to enable it reposition the company, adding that such efforts have started yielding positive results.

AFC is a pan-African multilateral development financial institution established to bridge Africa’s infrastructure investment gap through the provision of debt and equity finance, project development, technical and financial advisory services.

Convinced by the initiatives so far taken by the Alhaji Nasiru Ado Bayero-led Board and management headed by Acting Managing Director, Stephane Beuvelet, to return 9mobile to the path of growth and profitability through cost efficiency, innovative product development and network efficiency, the telecoms company said the loan facility would offer it a strong financial base to reposition it for future growth and expansion.

In a letter addressed to both Bayero and Beuvelet, the financial institution said: “Africa Finance Corporation is pleased to inform Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services that it has received full Board approval to support the turnaround strategy of EMTS through a $230 million super senior debt investment.”

The facility divided into two tranches would, among others, be used to repay historic vendor obligations, finance costs and an interest reserve account and payment towards quick win capex initiatives.

Commenting on the approval, Bayero expressed happiness that EMTS’ effort to recover previously ceded ground through an innovative growth plan is being supported by a prestigious pan-African financial institution like the AFC.

“We can only express gratitude to the AFC for approving this loan facility that would not only help our business sustainability, but also grow it to serve our teeming and loyal customers in Nigeria better. We have completely reviewed our operational, regulatory, financial and technical architecture to ensure we deliver quality services and this facility would go a long way in giving best in class services to Nigerians,” he said.

Bayero assured of the company’s resolve to continue its aggressive enhancement of network capacity and innovative features to guarantee optimum value to customers. He added that “our turnaround efforts are well and truly underway. We had promised when we took over that we would justify the confidence in our brand by making significant investments that will improve the value Nigerians get for using 9mobile. This is part of fulfilling our promise.”

Also commenting on the transaction, 9mobile’s Chief Financial Officer, Phillips Oki, said: “The success of this transaction, by way of the approval of the Board of Africa Finance Corporation, is a sound affirmation of our belief that the fundamentals of the 9mobile business are indeed strong. It is also an attestation to the fact that the operational restructuring and financial reengineering we have done since we assumed ownership have launched 9mobile on the path of growth and profitability. With this facility, our subscribers, staff and vendors should get ready to switch on to better days with 9mobile. We will reclaim every lost ground in the market in the coming months.”

The new Board led by Bayero took over 9mobile in November 2018 following a successful acquisition by Teleology Nigeria Limited.

Other members of the Board include non-executive directors: Asega Aliga, Mohammed Edewor, and Winston Ndubueze Udeh.

Others are: Executive Director, Abdulrahman Ado and Acting Managing Director, Stephane Beuvelet.