Teleology Holdings, a special purpose vehicle promoted by Adrian Wood, a former chief executive officer of MTN Nigeria, has been selected as the preferred bidder of 9mobile, according to New Telegraph.Teleology, a private equity firm with an investment portfolio of $11bn, offered more than $500 million to acquire the mobile network while Smile offered about $300 million.
This development may have brought to an end the acquisition process supervised by Barclays Africa.It was, however, gathered both companies will be given 30 days to prove that they have the financial resources to take over the troubled telco, just as an official announcement is expected to be made, latest, next Monday.While over 10 bidders had indicated interest in acquiring the mobile network, only five were shortlisted before the number was further reduced to three.
Globacom and Helios had failed to back their technical bids with concrete financial bids, while Airtel pulled out of the process last week, leaving just Teleology and Smile Communications in the acquisition quest.
Analysts project that if either Globacom or Airtel had taken over the company formerly known as Etisalat, they would have overtaken MTN as the biggest operator in Nigeria by a number of subscribers.
9mobile, formerly known as Etisalat, has over 17 million subscribers, which if added to either of Globacom’s or Airtel’s, would have been higher than what MTN currently has.Wood was a CEO of MTN Nigeria around 2002 was credited with building a very good business model.In July 2017, 9mobile was taken over by banks following a N541 billion debt overhang. Mubadala Group, the major investor from the United Arab Emirates, pulled out of Nigeria’s fourth largest mobile operator as a result of the debt owed to a consortium of 13 banks.
The telecom regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), is expected to have the final say after decision of the interim board — because of licensing laws.The NCC on January 11 had said “Barclays is expected to review the bids received by the deadline and to make recommendations to the 9Mobile Interim Board thereafter.”
After these processes, the interim board of 9mobile will then notify CBN and NCC of the winning bid.
In the judgment, Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos nullified the appointment of an interim board for Emerging Markets Telecommunications Service (EMTS), owners of 9mobile, the country’s fourth-largest telecommunications service operator in Nigeria.The judge gave the verdict in a ruling on an application by a firm, Spectrum Wireless Communication Ltd, which claimed it invested $35 million in EMTS/Etisalat in 2009.United Capital, which is the umbrella body of all the 13 banks being owed $1.2 billion by 9mobile, had since appealed the court’s verdict.