January 29, 2018

9Mobile: Stakeholders seek review of criteria for finalist bidders



By Adekunle Adekoya, Deputy Editor
LAGOS — With the nod said to have been given to Teleology Holdings as the preferred bidder for 9Mobile by the interim board of the company, all eyes are now on industry regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, to authenticate or disavow the said sale.



However, leading industry stakeholders over the weekend, cautioned that mere higher financial bid should not be the sole criterion in the closing of the 9Mobile sale.

They highlighted contribution to the growth and development of Nigeria’s telecommunications sector, technology innovation, human capital development and employment opportunities to Nigerians as well as local knowledge and direct financial contribution to the financial purse by way of taxes and levies to the various strata of government in Nigeria.

Indeed, some of them canvassed urgent re-appraisal of the last two companies standing out of the 16 companies that started the race for the acquisition of 9Mobile.

This is moreso as there are conflicting signals as to the correct amount offered for the sale. Earlier reports had indicated that the preferred bidder, Teleology Holdings, offered $500 million while the reserved bidder, Smile Telecom Holdings, offered $300 million.

However, a very reliable source close to the transaction affirmed that the sums being bandied about are incorrect and could at best be self-serving, aimed at furthering the quest of one of the finalists.

The source reaffirmed the impartiality of both the Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigerian Communications Commission and their unwavering commitment to global best practices and the common good.

The two finalists — Smile Telecoms Holdings and Teleology Holdings Limited— parade former CEOs of MTN Nigeria. Teleology Holdings Limited is led by Adrian Wood, while Smile Telecoms Holdings has as one of its leaders, another ex-MTN CEO, Ahmad Farroukh.

Adrian Wood was the second CEO of MTN Nigeria, but served for almost two years only.
Thereafter, he was named Group Managing Director of Daily Times of Nigeria; he is currently the CEO of Brymedia West Africa Limited.

Ahmad Farroukh, Group Executive Director, Operations at Smile Telecoms Holdings, took MTN Nigeria to where it is today. Between July 2006 and April 2011, he increased MTN’s subscriber base to 40 million, and after he left, he managed 17 operations of the MTN Group.

Smile Nigeria, a member of Smile Telecoms Holdings Limited, launched West Africa’s true 4G LTE network in Ibadan in 2013, thereby revolutionizing the way people access the Internet.

The company became the first operator in West Africa to offer its customers Voice over LTE services and give them access to the growing global standard for voice and video calling.

Smile launched Africa’s first commercial 4G LTE network in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania in May 2013 – revolutionizing the way people access information online. Since then, Smile has extended its coverage in Tanzania to 7 regions and also launched commercially in Uganda in June 2013, with coverage expanded to 14 cities.

In March 2014, Smile launched West-Africa’s first 4G LTE mobile broadband service in Nigeria with coverage now extended to eight cities.

By the end of 2015, Smile had the biggest 4G LTE mobile broadband network in Africa and continues to expand its network coverage. In 2016 Smile launched its SuperClear voice, video and SMS services over LTE, enabling all customers to use one data bundle for SuperFast broadband and SuperClear voice services.

Smile has transitioned from a spectrum rich start-up to the most reliable data gigabyte factory in Sub-Sahara Africa.

On the other hand, Teleology Holdings Limited is a consortium of companies believed to enjoy the backing of notable Nigerians including front-line politicians, revered traditional rulers and business executives as shareholders, more like a Special Purpose Vehicle designed specifically for the 9Mobile bid.