By Odunewu Segun
There are indications that political interference and pockets of opposition coming from some banks whose facilities were among the defaulted syndicated $12bn loan given to Etisalat, now 9mobile may delay the naming of a new owner for the embattled telecom firm.
Before now, there had been strong assurance that the new operator of the embattled telecom would be unveiled before the end of the year.
But a close follower of the bidding process confided in National Daily that stiff oppositions are coming from different quarters with deep political and business undertone in the battle for the soul of the fourth leading telecoms group in Nigeria.
According to the source, “The way things are now, the winner of the bid may not be named this year again as originally programmed due to some of these avoidable hitches; I don’t want to say interferences”.
It would be recalled that the managing director of Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, had said that all the banks whose money is trapped are working together for smooth sale of the telecoms on or before the end of the year.
He had explained issues at a recent interactive session in September, with select editors and publishers in Lagos, saying “As you are aware, the creditor banks came together to appoint a new Board and Management for the company, with the Deputy Governor of the CBN as chairman of the Board”.
“The company has good fundamentals with about 22 million subscribers, and it is also very strong in data. Our interest is to ensure the company remains a going concern so that it can attract interested buyers. The banks are working collectively on this,” Fidelity bank chief executive revealed.
Only last two weeks, indications emerged that odds favour Globacom or Teleology Holdings Limited, even as two other top five bidders were working on last minute joint venture deal to have upper hand over three others (names withheld).
Whereas Glo remains the only indigenous telecom giant in the race with about 27 per cent in current control of the telecoms space in Nigeria, Teleology Holdings Limited is a special purpose vehicle (SPV), put up by some influential Nigerians with foreign stakeholders link (names withheld) to bid for ownership of the company currently stressed by loan default.
Sources said earlier merger plan was by four out of the five finalists before the arrangers observed that some of them may not be good bed fellows when the deed is done and therefore walked out remaining only two that can guarantee their compatibility on winning and running the 9mobile bid.