The rumors that Aliko Dangote, Africa’s wealthiest man, and world’s richest black man, is set to acquire Etisalat Nigeria are beginning to gather pace.
Etisalat Nigeria has been subject to media scrutiny and speculations over its future following a failed attempt to structure a repayment plan over a $1.2 billion loan it took in 2013 from a consortium of Nigerian Banks to bolsters its telecommunications infrastructure.
Its inability to reach a payment deal with the Banks forced its Abu Dhabi-based investors to pull out of the country and its board and key executives to resign from their roles.
However, it is the names on the new board, appointed by key investors, that have got people alluding to a planned takeover by Dangote.
A number of those newly appointed are affiliated to the cement mogul. Mrs. Funke Ighodaro, who was made Etisalat’s new Chief Financial Officer, was the former finance chief at Tiger Brands, which acquired a majority stake in Dangote Flour Mills a couple of years ago before relinquishing its shares due to an extended period of loss-making.
Mr. Olawole Obasunloye was also appointed, alongside Mrs. Ighodaro, as Etisalat’s new Chief Executive Officer. He replaces Mr. Matthew Willsher. Before joining Etisalat, he had previously served in a high-ranking role at Dangote Industries where he was the company’s Chief Business Transformation Officer.
He was also once the Managing Director at Dancom Technologies Limited, a company owned by Dangote.
Dangote himself has a seat on the Etisalat Board. An analysis by Nairametrics suggests that Dangote’s seat on the Board is as a result of a 3G license Etisalat acquired in 2010 from Alheri Mobile Services Ltd, which is coincidentally a subsidiary of Dangote Industry Limited.
If the linkages are anything to go by, the media mulling might be much more than just a rumor. It would be worth watching how things unfold for Etisalat in the coming weeks.