Since relinquishing its brand name Etisalat Nigeria on Thursday, 9Mobile has been wooing its customers — with 15 minutes of free airtime that can be retained for up to seven days.
A $1.2 billion debt crisis incapacitated the telco, leading to its takeover by a consortium of financial institutions and withdrawal of the Mubadala Group, the highest investor in the company.
Mubadala, an Abu Dhabi-owned company, and Etisalat UAE mobile controlled 70 percent of the equity holding in Etisalat Nigeria, while Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS), headed by Hakeem Bello-Osagie, former Chairman of the United Bank for Africa (UBA), controls the remaining 30 per cent.
In June, Hakeem Belo-Osagie resigned this position as Chairman of Etisalat Nigeria, following the restructuring of the telecommunication company, to pave the way for the emergence of Joseph Nnana, a Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Boye Olusanya, former Deputy Managing Director of Celtel Nigeria (now Airtel Nigeria) stepped in as Chief Executive Officer of Etisalat Nigeria in place of Matthew Willsher, who left the position along with Olawole Obasunloye, the Chief Financial Officer.
Worried that uncertainty about its future could trigger an exodus of subscribers, 9Mobile instantly responded with a too-hard-to-resist promo.
“Hello, you have been granted 15mins free to call all Etisalat numbers. Valid for seven days,” read the message, which it began circulating to subscribers on Friday and continued on Saturday.
Five 9Mobile subscribers confirmed to have received the text message from “Etisalat”, the first receiving it at 11:42am on Friday, and the last 5:48am on Saturday.
In pulling out of Etisalat Nigeria, Hatem Dowidar, Chief Executive of Etisalat International, had said the group would no longer have anything to do with Etisalat Nigeria.
He gave the company a three-week ultimatum to change its name, adding: “There’s a new board and we are not part of that company. We have sent our termination letter for the management agreement.”