By Yinka Kolawole, with agency report
lagos—Teleology Holdings Limited has emerged as preferred bidder for 9mobile and has been asked to deposit of $50 million in March, Reuters has reported.
The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) had set a January 16 deadline to receive binding offers to acquire the debt-laden company, and said five prospective bidders were in the running.
Only two bidders submitted financial proposals, from which the preferred bidder, Teleology, was selected, sources told Reuters.
Barclays Africa, appointed by Nigerian banks to try to find new investors for 9mobile, recommended Teleology should be preferred bidder, the sources said, adding that Smile Telecoms was named reserve bidder.
A deal could take months to complete as it would involve restructuring 9mobile’s debt, the sources said. 9mobile declined to comment on the development.
Teleology is a company led by Adrian Wood, a former chief executive of MTN Nigeria, who helped build the Nigerian arm of the South African telecoms group into the largest mobile phone operator in Nigeria, with a 36.1 percent market share.
NCC said on Friday it wanted to ensure 9mobile, formerly called Etisalat Nigeria, was bought by investors with the know-how to run the company.
Etisalat Nigeria took out a $1.2 billion syndicated loan from 13 local banks in 2013 but failed to make repayments last year. Under the stewardship of its lenders, it changed its board, management and name, and is now up for sale.
Since the debt issue, 9mobile has lost subscribers. In October, it had 17.1 million users, a 12.2 percent market share, down from 20 million subscribers, or 14 percent share, earlier in 2017, the telecoms regulator said.