Update: Etisalat Nigeria has changed its brand name to 9Mobile. At the helm of the transition is newly appointed CEO, Boye Olusanya. It is worthy of note that Olusanya played a role in the transitioning of Celtel Nigeria (now Airtel Nigeria) in 2010.
The way forward for 9Mobile
EMTS claims that it has chosen the name 9Mobile to stay true to its 0809ja heritage and become a true Nigerian brand. While they have asked for customers support during this transition, they also pledged their continual support and empowerment.
We will ensure that our core values of Innovation, Customer-centricity, and superior Quality of Service remain the pillars upon which we operate - Bode Olusanya, CEO, 9Mobile
Recently, Etisalat Nigeria announced a new board of directors, but they may be overseeing a new entity in a few weeks. This is because Etisalat has just withdrawn its shares from Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS) which has operated as its Nigerian branch.
According to Reuters, all the UAE shareholders have terminated their agreement and exited the company's board. To this effect, EMTS has only three weeks to bear the name 'Etisalat Nigeria'.
"There's a new board and we are not part of that company. We have sent our termination letter for the management agreement." Hatem Dowidar, CEO Etisalat International.
While Etisalat International have made references to the finality of their exit from Nigeria, EMTS has insisted that ongoing discussions with the group are in no way conclusive.
EMTS has a valid and subsisting agreement with the Etisalat Group, which entitles EMTS to use the Etisalat brand, notwithstanding the recent changes within the Company. Indeed, discussions are ongoing between EMTS and Etisalat Group pertaining to the continued use of the brand, and EMTS will issue a formal statement once discussions are concluded." Ibrahim Dikko, Vice President, EMTS
One week, one trouble?
Long before Etisalat's trouble became a weekly affair, it has battled with a $1.2 billion loan repayment from 2013. Exchange rates have stealthily risen since the time the company took the loan till date and this has plunged the company into a deep financial mess.
Be the smartest in the room
This led to the company's acquisition by its lenders, 3 Nigerian and 7 other foreign banks. Now, that its parent body is in the process of disengagement, does EMTS have what it takes to survive?
Dowidar suggested two premises on the company's survival.
"(Nigerian) lenders may try to continue to operate the company until they find a buyer (or) they may merge the company with the existing players in Nigeria."
Perhaps, it would be acquired by private investors such as Dangote, since the new CEO, Bode Olusanya was his former employee.
However, for EMTS, a change in identity may not affect their business operations or range of services.
"EMTS is here to stay and we wish to assure our esteemed customers that our core values of youthfulness, customer-centricity and innovation will remain the pillars on which we operate."