…9mobile will issue a statement in due course-
Spokesperson The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Wednesday, approved the sale of 9mobile – the third largest mobile network operator in Nigeria to Teleology Holdings Limited. A source close to NCC exclusively informed The Daily Times that the sale of the third largest telecoms to Teleology was approved at cost of $500 million This puts to rest one year of back and forth struggle, process of selecting a preferred bidder amidst a media war that raged between leading bidders.
Teleology Holdings Limited, the preferred bidder for the acquisition of 9mobile, had in July met the deadline for ownership of the firm with the payment of $251million into Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) escrow account, pending receipt of ‘‘no objection from the NCC. The Daily Times had exclusively reported that the buyer is committed to playing its part in the telecoms industry, with payment of $251 million into CBN escrow account pending the regulatory body’s response to the payment. “What Teleology has raised offshore exceeds the initial acquisition cost. It is inclusive of the amount needed for an audacious network expansion project for 9mobile. “I can confirm this will change the telecoms landscape significantly.
The money coming will include the cost of over 5,000 additional base stations and a bullish acquisition of other fringe players in the telecoms sector to add to the 9mobile brand household. ‘‘This feat by Teleology is a highly commendable feat that will add a great deal of value to the Nigerian telecoms industry. Teleology had earlier communicated its commitment to the payment of the final bid price to the apex bank days ahead of the expiration of the 90-day payment timeline, which elapsed on Saturday, June 30. Besides, it requested a 20 working days’ extension from the CBN “to enable it perfect the process for the final payout in consonance with the provision of the acquisition agreement”, source close to 9Mobile disclosed. The Daily Times recalls that Teleology had on March 21 paid the initial $50million non-refundable deposit as a demonstration of its commitment to acquire 9mobile and was given a 90-day timeline to pay the balance having emerged the preferred bidder following the evaluation of the technical and financial bids for the telecom company.
The process for the acquisition of 9mobile commenced in October 2017 while Smile Communications emerged as the reserved bidder. 9mobile is currently being supervised by Barclays Africa, the transaction adviser appointed by CBN, NCC and a consortium of 13 banks with a view to getting new investors inject fresh capital into the telecoms firm. The bid for the sale of 9mobile equities followed disagreement between Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Limited (EMTS), formerly trading as Etisalat Nigeria, and the banks to restructure the repayment of a seven-year mid-term facility secured by the telecoms firm to service an existing loan and expand its network in 2013. The CBN and NCC had jointly, in their roles as regulators, opted for an innovative approach to deal with a distressed company – 9mobile operated by Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Limited (EMTS) which its predecessor, Mubadala Group, Etisalat International brand pulled out of the country due to heavy debt. Over 4000 employees were thrown into the labour market and almost disconnected 22 million subscribers. But in an effort to save jobs and protect the 22 million subscribers on the network, the CBN and NCC jointly took over the running of the distressed network under a new name, 9mobile and invited prospective buyers to bid. Of the companies that indicated interest, five made it to an advanced stage.
One pulled out of the acquisition bid, two were dropped for not including financial offers in their bids, leaving Smile Telecoms and Teleology Holdings Limited, which made offers, as the last two standing. When contacted on the latest development, the Director Public Affairs of the NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, declined to speak on the matter, saying he was on vacation. Also, the Head, NCC’s Media Management Unit, Public Affair, Mr. Sunny Aragba, refused to comment on the development. Aragba stated categorically that only the Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo, could comment on such matter. However, Mr. A Osunsedo, the spokesperson of 9mobile, said he was not in the office and could not comment on the matter. In a response to an enquiry on this development, a source close to 9Mobile but pleaded anonymity in a text message said: “I don’t have any information on that, 9mobile will issue a statement in due course – source