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Globacom, Teleology Holdings lead in acquisition of 9mobile

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Out of the last five shortlisted investors to acquire the embattled 9mobile Telecoms, indications emerged weekend, pointing to the directions of either Nigeria’s national carrier, Globacom or Teleology Holdings Limited, 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.

The other three finalists include Airtel, Smile and Helios Group.

According to industry observers, Globacom has a natural advantage to raise enough fund to buy 9mobile; that is if it does not currently has the needed deep pocket to win the bid outright.

A strong logic that may do the magic is the fact that such acquisition will smartly shut up the company’s capacity, global rating and service delivery including coverage and tailored services. Recall that mergers and acquisitions are possible in any sector, it has happened in banks some years ago and nothing is bad about it in telecoms.

It would be recalled that the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta had last week dropped the hint in Abuja that final bidder that would be allowed to take over 9mobile must have the financial and technical capabilities to run the company.

He averred that “Five bidders have emerged for 9mobile. They have been allowed to assess the data room of 9mobile in order to enable them to assess the financial status of the company and subsequently make bids for its takeover. But the takeover must be in a regulated manner.

“In the final analysis, we will like to see a 9Mobile taken over by a bidder who has the financial and technical capacity to improve on the operations of the telecom and add value in delivery of qualitative telecoms services in the country,” Danbatta noted.

Whereas analysts say Airtel chances can be seen as third most possible, there are suggestions that the earlier position of the Bharti Airtel group that it plans to wind down its Africa’s stakes may weaken the mission to acquire 9mobile.

On Smile, it was not clear if MTN Nigeria deliberately failed to cross to latest stage of the bid so as to work under or pave way for its compatriot from South Africa to go further.

However, pundits say it may be difficult for two South African telecoms to suddenly become key players to the level of operating at the highest stage of Nigeria’s telecoms market.

Currently, whereas MTN Nigeria is leading at the big boys’ stage of MNOs, Smile is trailing Spectranet as the second in subscribers’ base according to the latest NCC telecoms statistics.

On Helios group, though the company entered the economy as a telecoms services provider, managing towers and allied services, experts are upbeat that it still has some chances.

Recall that at the beginning, 16 companies including MTN, Airtel, Ntel, Virgin Mobile from the United Kingdom and Vodacom of South Africa had tendered expressions of interest (EoIs) to Barclays, 9mobile’s financial advisor.

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Others are BUA Group, Morning Side Capital Partners, Obot Etiebet & Co, Blackstone Private Equity, and Hamilton and George International Limited. But the major hurdle that separated boys from men bordered on issues of meeting bank guarantee of $100m.

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