MTN Nigeria has secured loan facilities totalling $3bn (about N470bn) from a consortium of local and international financial institutions to enable it expand, modernise and improve its network infrastructure. Zenith Bank Plc led the financiers with N55bn, followed by Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and First Bank of Nigeria Limited, which raised N40bn each; while Access Bank Plc and Fidelity Bank Plc contributed N35bn and N26.25bn, respectively. The loan, according to MTN, consists of $1.8bn in additional facilities and $ 1.2bn in restructuring of existing local facility. The deal was formally sealed by top officials and board members of MTN and the participating banks in Lagos on Tuesday. The Chief Executive Officer, MTN, Mr. Brett Goschen, said the signing of the loan deal signposted another strategic collaboration between the telecoms service provider and financial institutions to deepen telecommunications services in Nigeria. According to him, the deal is the sixth of such strategic partnerships, with other notable ones including the $170m commercial paper facility secured by the company in 2002 and a $ 395m medium-term facility in 2003. Goschen said the 2003 deal was the largest African telecoms funding deal to close outside of South Africa at the time and won the Project Finance magazine's 'African Telecoms Deal' for that year. "In 2007, MTN Nigeria again partnered with various local and international financial institutions to raise $2bn to fund our rapidly expanding operations. It was again regarded as the largest loan syndication to any individual telecommunications company in Africa. In that year, it won the 'African Deal of the Year' by the EuroMoney Magazine," he said. Goschen recalled that again in 2010, MTN Nigeria partnered with 15 local financial institutions and two international lenders to raise another $2bn, which was described as the largest corporate financing deal in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. This deal, according to him, was awarded the 'Trade Finance Deal of the Year 2010' by the Trade Finance Magazine of the United Kingdom. "The essence of these deals was to enable MTN to make the necessary capital investments to expand our network infrastructure and meet the growing demands of our customer base. We certainly put that financing to good use, built the most extensive telecommunications network in Africa and grew our customer base to over 50 million subscribers," he said. Goschen said MTN currently had effective network coverage of more than 85 per cent of Nigeria's land mass and population, and nearly 100 per cent coverage of most major highways in the country. He said with a relatively low mobile penetration, sound economic growth, lower cost of ownership for consumers and the insatiable demand for data services, there was still ample room for more growth in the sector. "The restructured and additional facilities will enable us to continue with the aggressive investment in our network," he said. The MTN boss said the company invested $1.6bn in 2012 and would invest over $1.5bn on network upgrade and expansion this year. "Enhancing our network quality is
also a key focus of the investment as we lead the delivery of a bold new digital world for our customers," he said.