By Kester Omu
There is a strong indication that Bharti Airtel will buy over troubled Etisalat Nigeria, in a bid to consolidate its footing of the Nigerian telecom market, where it generates 30 percent of African revenues.
The potential buy over of Etisalat by Bharti Airtel follows reports that efforts are underway to find a buyer for the country’s troubled fourth-largest carrier, owing to failures to service its $1.2billion debt obligations.
According Chopinz Omero, a Lagos based ICT analyst, the eventual buy over of Etisalat Nigeria by Bharti Airtel will give it the muscles to compete favourably with MTN, the country’s biggest telco in terms of subscribers.
The last update done by the Nigerian Communications Commission, Nigeria’s telecom regulator on its official website shows that MTN has 54,921,331 subscribers, Airtel has 34,156,434 while Etisalat and Globacom have 18,500,722 and 37,365,755 subscribers respectively.
Though, the analyst expressed doubt the buy over may not happen, he said it remains to be seen if Bharti explores a Ghana market equivalent joint venture opportunity in Nigeria. He also believes Bharti Airtel will not go unaccompanied, but would look at engaging actively with other players in the markets to create a viable business case through in-country consolidations.
Reports earlier this year say, Bharti Airtel and Millicom International Cellular inked a pact to merge their respective subsidiaries in Ghana to create the second-largest mobile carrier in the African country.
Etisalat Nigeria is one of the many victims of dollar shortages plaguing Nigeria due largely to lower oil prices and economic recession. This has left it struggling to make repayments to local banks a $1.2 billion loan.