By Emmanuel Elebeke
ABUJA —EXECUTIVE Vice-Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta has confirmed that five entities have emerged as bidders for troubled telco, 9Mobile (formerly Etisalat).
Prof. Danbatta made the confirmation yesterday during the 82nd edition of Telecom Consumer Parliament, TCP, with the theme: Value Added Service and Its benefits to Consumers.
The five entities, all of them telcos, are Airtel, Globacom, Smile Communications, Helios, and Teleology Holdings Limited. Earlier, no less than 16 firms expressed interest and filed bids with Barclays, 9mobile’s financial advisor.
They include MTN, Airtel, 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.
Danbatta said: “Five bidders have emerged for 9Mobile. They have been allowed to access the data room of 9Mobile in order to enable them access the financial situation of the company and subsequently make bids for the takeover of the company. But the takeover must be in a regulated manner.
“The CBN and NCC are supervising what is going on through an interim board jointly appointed by the NCC and CBN. We are going to do due diligence on the financial capacity of any potential bidder as well as the technical capacity.
“In the final analysis, we will like to see a 9Mobile taken over by a bidder who has the financial and technical capacity to improve on the operations of the telco and add value in delivery of qualitative telecom services in the country,” he explained.
Etisalat Nigeria became 9Mobile following inability to resolve issues with its bankers over a $1.2 billion loan facility.
Etisalat Group of the United Arab Emirates owned 45 per cent ordinary shares and 25 per cent preference shares in Etisalat Nigeria.
Etisalat Nigeria, the country’s fourth largest telecoms operator with over 21 million subscribers, is indebted to 13 Nigerian banks to the tune of $1.2 billion.
The facility was availed Etisalat Nigeria in 2013 and was used to re-finance an existing $650m loan and fund the upgrade of its network.