By Adekunle Adekoya
LAGOS — The last is yet to be heard of controversies surrounding the sale of troubled telco, Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Ltd, trading as 9Mobile, as indications have emerged that the board of the company may have been interfering with the bid process.
These indications are contained in a letter from Barclays Africa (financial advisors to the sale), to GT Bank Plc. GT Bank is the Facility Agent to Syndicate Lenders in the bid process.
The Barclays letter, dated 28 February 2018, copied to the board of 9Mobile was signed by one Hasnen Varawalla as Managing Director/Co-Head, Africa Banking.
In the letter, Barclays protested an earlier letter from the board of 9Mobile which it said was dated February 18, and which the bank replied in another letter dated February 19, 2018.
In the Feb. 19 letter, Barclays Africa wrote, among others: “The instructions in the letter are not in line with the process letter dated 26 January 2018, as approved by the Board and issued to each bidder and will effectively amend the same”.
Lamenting that its advisories were being ignored by the 9mobile board, the bank noted thus: “We further note that on Tuesday, 20th February 2018, and based on an updated proposal from Smile Telecoms Holdings Limited, we updated our analysis of the comparison of the two offers received from the Bidders (Teleology and Smile) and forwarded the updated comparison to the Board via email. We further requested clarification from the Board on paragraph 3 of the 19th February 2018”.
Barclays is also worried that contrary to the rules guiding the transaction, the Sales Purchase Agreement (SPA) has not been signed.
Rules governing the bid process state that on the day of award (which was Feb 26) the SPA should be signed. The SPA earlier sent to all bidders by Barclays on January 26th directed the bidders to review and send their remarks back so that it will be ready for signature on the day of the award.
It had announced Teleology Holdings as the preferred bidder for the sale of 9mobile through a letter it transmitted to the company on February 21, 2018, and gave it 21 days to pay a non-refundable cash deposit of $50 million.
Another issue at stake is the simple matter of when the 21-day timeline expires. Counting from February 22, the 21-day window within which Teleology was supposed to pay the $50 million lapsed March 14, but another interpretation insists it is 21 working days, weekends and public holidays excluded since banks don’t work on those days. That gives Teleology, the preferred bidder till March 22 to pay up.