9mobile takeover: Teleology faces last hurdle

Teleology, the preferred for the acquisition of embattled 9mobile may still have to wait for a while before taking possession of the telecom firm due to some pockets of debts on the part of 9mobile, National Daily has gathered.

Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Danbatta in a recent interview monitored by National Daily said Teleology had paid the initial $50 million for 9mobile and now has less than 90 days to pay $450 million or lose their spot to Smile Communications, which was picked as the reserved bidder.

Danbatta also disclosed that there are pockets of debts on the part of 9Mobile that must be met before the transfer of license, frequency and shares could be made.

As 9Mobile owed AOL for 2016 and 2017 to a tune of N12 billion, the NCC boss said the firm owed Numbering Fees of N1 billion and Spectrum Fees of N2.3 billion.

Dambatta maintained that in the history of NCC, there is yet to be any transfer of equity from one firm to another without the meeting of all statutory requirements.

Recall that earlier reports suggested that the final transaction for the takeover of 9mobile failed following the inability of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and other stakeholders to reach a meaningful conclusion on the matter.

Earlier this year in February, Teleology Holdings emerged as the winner of a fiercely contested bidding exercise for 9mobile’s acquisition. The bidding exercise was supervised by Barclays Africa.

But ever since Teleology’s emergence as the winner, much drama and controversies have characterised its 9mobile acquisition bid. These controversies range from opposition posed by other bidders such as runner-up Smile Telecoms Holding Limited, to the alleged refusal of banks to lend Teleology the rest of the capital it needs to finalise the acquisition bid.

Despite these issues, Teleology Holdings was optimistic that the acquisition process would go on until finalised.

The problem with Etisalat Nigeria, now 9mobile, started last year 2017, after the telco default on a $1.2 billion loan it obtained from a consortium of 13 Nigerian banks led by GTBank. This caused the parent company (Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates) to pull out and relinquish its 45% stake in the company.

Following this development, the CBN restrained the Nigerian banks from taking over the telco. The CBN instead, constituted an interim board to oversee the operations of the company.

9mobile currently commands an estimated market share of 11.72% in the country.