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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Celtel reaffirms aggressive roll-out

Chief executive of Celtel Nigeria, Mr. Adebayo Ligali, has reaffirmed his firm’s commitment to aggressively rollout infrastructure nationwide.

Speaking after the conclusion of the financial facility worth $1.619 billion, about N206.997 billion, Mr. Ligali said that the facilities would enable the telco to achieve the dream of expanding its coverage, improve capacity and enhance quality of service.

“More than ever before, we are poised and committed to a more aggressive roll out infrastructure across the country so as to expand our coverage, improve our capacity and enhance our quality,” he said.

Mr. Ligali also said that the successful conclusion of the deal is another landmark transaction by Celtel, coming barely six months after the acquisition of Vee Networks by Celtel International.

“It is an acknowledgement of the confidence of the international finance community in our company and in Nigeria,” he said.

Mr. Ligali emphasised that this transaction is indicative of the success being recorded in the federal government’s quest to steer the economy in the path of growth, and in the same direction as the rest of the world.

He pointed out that the company has continued to be a key player in the realisation of the federal government’s vision of accelerated foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country.

ITRealms Online recalls that the deal concluded at the weekend, has the sum of $1.43 billion as syndicated facility while $189 million came as bilateral facility.

According to Head of Division, Public Relations, Events and Sponsorship at Celtel Nigeria, Mr. Emeka Oparah, the facility consists of N125bn (US$984m) in local-currency arranged by Celtel Nigeria, and a US$450m foreign currency arranged and fully underwritten by Citibank, N.A. (Citigroup), which also serves sole bookrunner.

Additionally, Huawei Technologies and UBA New York provided US$148.6m and US$40m, respectively, in bilateral financing.

He said that the facility would be used to refinance the company’s existing debt and finance its network rollout programme.

As said by him, syndication of the facilities was highly successful which has 13 Nigerian financial institutions, leading other 12 banks bankrolled the local-currency facility, while 11 international banks were on the foreign-currency facility, resulting in over-subscription by 50 per cent on both facilities and an upsizing of both from their initial amounts of US$670m (NGN equivalent) and US$350m, respectively.

He pointed out that the heavy over-subscription of the foreign-currency facility meant that the syndicate was able to accommodate a substantial reduction in a reverse flex based on the margin and commitment fees from the initially agreed terms.

This, Mr. Oparah said, is an indication of the international and domestic banking communities’ strong support for Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC) Group operating companies, and an endorsement of Celtel Nigeria’s ambitious growth strategy.

Celtel Nigeria’s legal advisers on the deal were Allen & Overy LLP (offshore) and Olaniwun Ajayi & Co (onshore), and the lenders were represented by Watson, Farley & Williams LLP (offshore) and The Law Union (onshore).

Citibank International Plc is the global coordinating agent, First Trustees Nigeria Limited is the security trustee, and First City Monument Bank Plc is the Nigerian administrative agent.

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