By Prince Osuagwu & Emmanuel Elebeke
Abuja—Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC, has advised the media against unfounded speculations on the sale of 9mobile, saying the firm is yet to be sold and that everything is following due process.
The commission yesterday insisted that no winner had emerged on the acquisition process, dismissing insinuations that a preferred bidder had been anointed to acquire 9mobile.
In a statement by its Director, Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo, the Commission described the publication in a section of the media as untrue and unfounded.
It explained that Barclays Africa remained in full control of the process leading to the emergence of a new owner or owners for the company, noting that Barclays had not authorized any publication on the matter and was obliged to maintain full confidentiality thereon.
The statement reads in part: “Our attention has been drawn to newspaper publications alleging that a preferred bidder has been anointed to acquire 9Mobile and otherwise speculating on the outcome of the ownership transfer process. For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to provide the following clarification and update on the process: Barclays Africa remains in full control of the process leading to the emergence of a new owner for the company. Barclays has not authorized any publication on the matter and is obliged to maintain full confidentiality thereon.
“An approval of the request for extension of time by the 9Mobile Interim Board was given by the 2 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. 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.”
Earlier, NCC had announced that about five telcos, Airtel, Globacom, Smile Communications, Helios, and Teleology Holdings Limited were shortlisted for final bidding from about 16 firms, including MTN, Airtel, Ntel (former NITEL), Virgin Mobile from the United Kingdom and Vodacom of South Africa, BUA Group, Morning Side Capital Partners, Obot Etiebet & Co, Blackstone Private Equity, and Hamilton and George International Limited, that initially expressed interest and filed bids with 9mobile’s financial advisor, Barclays.