Etisalat Nigeria on Thursday changed its brand name to 9Mobile. The change of name, it was gathered, was approved at a management meeting, with the public relations consultant to the telco, Chain Reactions, confirming the development.

Chain Reactions, promised to send in an official statement to that effect but had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.

“9Mobile was unanimously adopted by the company as its new brand name,” an insider in Etisalat Nigeria said.

The Vice President, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, Etisalat Nigeria, Ibrahim Dikko, had earlier this week dropped a hint as to what the new name of the company could be. He recalled that at the launch of the company in Nigeria in 2008, ‘0809ja’ was adopted to affirm the “Nigerianness” of its origin and the company’s sphere of influence.

However, the Nigeria Communications Commission said that aside changing its brand name to ‘9Mobile’, Etisalat Nigeria must also change its logo and colour.

The commission noted, however, that the telecommunications company had yet to brief it on the change of brand name.

“I am not privy to any letter to that effect, neither is the Nigerian Communications Commission,” the Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, said.

“However, brand change involves a lot of processes. The company will need a new logo, colour and even have to call the subscribers to a forum to announce the change of brand name properly. This must be done after they might have informed the regulator,” he added.

Ojobo said the possible adoption of 9Mobile as a new brand name by Etisalat Nigeria might be an internal decision of the telecoms firm to meet the three weeks ultimatum given to it by the parent company in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.

He had earlier said that the telecoms regulator would check the financial health of other operators following Etisalat Nigeria’s default on the repayment of a $1.2bn loan.

“We need to check the books to detect failings on time,” Ojobo said, adding that the law setting up the NCC empowered it to conduct such checks.

He also said that the commission must approve any new investor with over 10 per cent of shares in a telecoms firm.

Etisalat Nigeria’s lenders have taken control of the management of the company and placed the shares in the custody of a loan trustee.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Etisalat Nigeria’s rescue had put the country’s banks in a quandary as they prepare for half-year results due this month, as they did not know whether to provision for loans to the company until they could work out its value.

A banking source said that the lenders first wanted to determine Etisalat Nigeria’s free cash flow to help them value the business before deciding on whether to impair the assets or hold on to find new investors.

“No bank is talking about restructuring now, but it might get to that later once we are able to ascertain the true value of the company,” the source said.


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