The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has debunked media reports (not TheNigerialawyer) that one of the five bidders seeking to acquire 9Mobile, Nigeria’s fourth largest mobile network which is indebted to some banks, is being preferred above others.
The telecommunications regulator and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had last year appointed an interim Board and Management to run the affairs of the mobile network pending the conclusion of the sale of the network to a new owner. This follows the abdication of the company’s equity by its majority shareholders, Etisalat International and Mubadala of United Arab Emirates (UAE).
A statement issued yesterday by Tony Ojobo, Director, Public Affairs, NCC while providing a clarification on the process for the transfer of ownership said Barclays Africa remains in full control of the process leading to the emergence of a new owner for the company. The final five bidding entities are Airtel, Globacom, Smile Communications, Helios, and Teleology Holdings Limited
“Barclays has not authorized any publication on the matter and is obliged to maintain full confidentiality thereon” he said. According to Ojobo, “an approval of the request for extension of time by the 9Mobile Interim Board was given by the two regulators – NCC and CBN. This set the deadline for the receipt of binding offers from the prospective bidders till 16th January 2018.
“Contrary to speculations that a “winner” will be announced on the same day (i.e. 16th of January 2018) we wish to clarify that Barclays is expected to review the bids received by the deadline and to make recommendations to the 9Mobile Interim Board thereafter. The NCC and CBN will be duly notified once the 9Mobile Interim Board accepts Barclays’ recommendations and a winning bid is determined in accordance with the terms of the exercise,” he said.
The NCC spokesman added that the winner will now apply to NCC in order to commence the processes for securing the regulatory approvals from the Board of the NCC necessary to give full effect to the transfer. “We trust that the foregoing sufficiently clarifies the position of the transaction and that it lays to rest any apprehensions regarding the unfounded media publications on the sale,” added.
Earlier, no less than 16 firms expressed interest and filed bids with Barclays, 9mobile’s financial advisor. They include MTN, Ntel (former NITEL), Virgin Mobile from the United Kingdom and Vodacom of South Africa. The rest include BUA Group, Morning Side Capital Partners, Obot Etiebet & Co, Blackstone Private Equity, and Hamilton and George International Limited.