Etisalat says Nigeria unit inks $1.2bn loan deal

African unit will use medium term syndicated loan from 13 banks to refinance debt and expand network

UAE telecommunications giant Etisalat said its Nigeria unit had secured a $1.2bn medium term syndicated loan facility to refinance existing debt and expand its network.

 “The company plans to use the proceeds to refinance the existing commercial medium term debt of $650m and continue its network rollout,” Etisalat’s CFO Serkan Okandan said in a statement to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.

The loan comes from a group of 13 lenders within Nigeria and is denominated in both Nigerian naira and US dollars.

The company said earlier this year that it was seeking to raise $500m in debt from local banks in order to expand its network infrastructure.

Etisalat is currently the fourth largest mobile operator in the west African country with a market share of about 15 percent, or 15m users. This places it behind MTN at 43 percent, Globacom at 22 percent and Airtel at 20 percent. Etisalat says it wants to increase its market share to about 17 percent by this year, or add 4m new mobile subscribers.

The International Telecommunications Union forecasts Nigeria to have 120m mobile subscribers by end 2013, out of a population of 170m.

The number of mobile users in Africa's most populous nation crossed the 100m subscriber base in the first half of last year, adding six million new callers from 2011.

Etisalat Nigeria is 40 percent owned by its UAE parent company.

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