The Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reassured Stakeholders of its commitment to ensure that the nation’s fourth largest Mobile Network Operator, EMTS/9Mobile, is duly taken over by investors with the requisite technical capability and pedigree to manage the organisation.
Recall that after much delay, Barclays Africa, the firm saddled with the responsibility of supervising the sale was reported to have sent a letter to Teleology Holdings, a company being promoted by former CEO of Nigeria, Adrian Wood, as the preferred bidder.
It was however gathered that the eventual winner is subject to ratification by the regulatory agencies—NCC and the CBN.
Rising from its Board meeting held in Abuja on Thursday, February 22, 2018, the Board affirmed its determination to avoid the recurrence of any missteps that may have led to the current situation.
The Board also made it clear that pursuant to the powers conferred on the Commission by the provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 and other instruments in that regard, the Commission will ensure that all relevant statutory and regulatory processes are duly complied with in the process leading up to the emergence of new owners for the company.
In a statement signed by Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Tony Ojobo, the Board assured all Stakeholders that the Commission will apply all necessary diligence to see the ongoing sale process through to its logical conclusion in a manner that protects the overall national interest and the seamless operation of the national telecommunications network.
9mobile (formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria) defaulted on a $1.2 billion loan it had obtained from a consortium of 13 banks led by GT Bank. This led to the parent company Etisalat of the UAE pulling out and relinquishing its 45%stake in the telco.
The banks threatened to take over the firm but were prevented from doing so by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
An interim board chaired by a Deputy Governor of the CBN was subsequently appointed. The interim board then announced a bid process midwifed by Barclays Africa.
Five firms – Globacom, Smile, Airtel, Helios and Teleology Holdings, made it to the final bidding stage, however, Airtel, allegedly withdrew from the bid process due to what it termed irregularities
Teleology Holdings has been directed to make a non-refundable cash deposit of $50 million within 21 days from the date of the letter or forfeit its position as the preferred bidder.
It is expected that once NCC and CBN ratify this sale, the preferred bidder can then take over the technical operations of the embattled telco.
9mobile currently commands a market share of 11.72% in the country.