Ninety-six hours after a three-week deadline was given to drop its brand name by Etisalat International, Etisalat Nigeria, Thursday, picked up the gauntlet, announcing it will now trade under the brand name, 9Mobile.
The decision to use 9Mobile as the new brand name was taken at the end of a meeting of the telco’s management in Lagos yesterday.
The network had debuted with the 0809 number plan in 2008, which may have informed use of the figure 9 in rebranding the network.
The rebranded network, 9Mobile, is also expected to drop the domain name, www. etisalat. com.ng Etisalat International of the United Arab Emirates parted ways with its Nigerian partner, Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Ltd, trading as Etisalat Nigeria in the wake of a crisis over a $1.2 billion loan package, which defied solutions.
Last Monday, Hatem Dowidar, CEO of Etisalat International, announced that “discussions were ongoing with Etisalat Nigeria to provide technical support; it can use the brand for another three weeks before phasing it out.”
This followed the termination of a management agreement with Etisalat Nigeria by its brand parent, Etisalat International. Dowidar added that “all UAE shareholders of Etisalat Nigeria have exited the company and have left the board and management,” including United Arab Emirates-owned investment fund, Mubadala.
Etisalat Nigeria took out a $1.2 billion (N377.4 billion) loan with 13 Nigerian banks in 2013 to refinance an existing loan and fund expansion, but four years later, it was still struggling to repay the loans.
Asked if the company will return to Nigeria, Dowidar said: “The train has left the station on that one. Being in that market as an investor … are we willing to risk more money compared to the reward for the long-term?
“Etisalat is among the top two in markets such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt and Afghanistan.(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.