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MTN Nigeria's NGN200 billion loan leaves market jittery

MTN Nigeria's NGN200 billion loan leaves market jittery

MTN Nigeria has a secured a loan of NGN200 billion (about US$556 million) from a consortium of 12 Nigerian banks.

The medium-term facility is for a period of 7 years, based on a repayment term of 5 years and the possibility of postponement of payment for 2 years.

FBNQuest is the facility agent, while the participating banks are CitiBank Nigeria, Diamond Bank, Ecobank, Fidelity Bank Plc, First Bank Plc, FCMB, FSDH Merchant Bank, Rand Merchant Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC, UBA and Union Bank.

MTN said the loan will enable it to improve and expand its network. The agreement signed with the banks states that the fund will be used to finance "capital expenditure, working capital and evolving business opportunities".

Ferdi Moolman, CEO of MTN Nigeria said: "This is a major landmark in our expansion programme in which we are making significant investments. The facility will enable us evolve the network to deliver convergent and superior quality, drive voice capacity expansion and data service penetration, maintain optimal capital structure and funding levels that support growth and expansion."

While industry experts expressed concern over the decision to extend the loan, citing the difficulty experienced by recipients in being able to repay, the banks noted that the loan issued to MTN is in local currency which eliminates lack of access to forex as a reason for any possibility of defaulting.

MTN is the largest operator in Nigeria with over 55 million subscribers.

According to media reports, MTN's competitors are concerned about the operator's monopolisation of the telecoms sector while opposing the transfer of a spectrum belong to Visafone.

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