9Mobile sales process suffers hitch

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The nullification of a Federal High Court order granting the interim board of 9Mobile legitimacy could throw a spanner in the sale process for the telco.

The order was granted in 2017 following the setting up of an interim board by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to manage the affairs of the telecommunications firm.

Spectrum wireless a shareholder in Emerging Market Telecommunications Services (EMTS) took United Capital Trustees Limited (representatives of the consortium of banks) to court over the takeover of the company.

The sales process which had almost been concluded may be declared null and void. The NCC and CBN may be stuck with the telco for a while, despite their eagerness to offload it.

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CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele and the NCC had earlier expressed hope that the sales process would be concluded in December last year. 9Mobile’s board then asked for an extension to enable the shortlisted bidders prepare their final bids. The NCC then issued a denial that Globacom had been selected as winner of the bid.

9Mobile (then known as Etisalat Nigeria) defaulted on a $1.2 billion loan it had obtained from a consortium of banks led by GT Bank. The default led to parent company Etisalat of the UAE pulling out and the banks threatening to take over the firm.

They were however prevented from doing so by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). An interim board was subsequently appointed.

The lenders were prevailed upon by the Central Bank of Nigeria to hold off on taking provisions for the syndicated loan and agreed to extend it after the apex bank intervened back in July this year.