The sale of embattled telecommunications firm, 9Mobile, is expected to be completed by March, according to expectations from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which disclosed that between now and the next 40 days, a new investor should emerge for 9Mobile.
The NCC, which is keen on handling the remains of the telecommunications firm to new owners soonest, decried that sale speculations that surrounded 9Mobile in the last seven months had resulted in firm's loss of subscribers.
Indeed, checks by The Guardian showed about 4.5 million subscribers have left the 9Mobile network, arguably to competitions.
During an interaction with journalists in Lagos, the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, NCC, Sunday Dare, said 9Mobile sales process was still very much ongoing, and speculations will not do the already troubled brand any good.
Dare revealed that the interim board members of 9mobile are yet to communicate to the NCC about the final choice of investor for the telecommunications firm, because the process is ongoing. "Remember also, there are two regulators involved, there is a financial regulator, and a telecom regulator, and unless the financial process is completed, the licensing process wouldn't kick in.
"Until we have evidence of the final report, the speculations will not do the brand any good as well as the subscribers," he stressed.
Dare said the Commission would not take the interest of a particular bidder above others, but "the Commission would be glad if 9mobile is eventually sold to a financially capable investor that is willing to invest in it.
"As a regulator, we will be glad to hear from the right source that 9mobile has a preferred bidder, and that must be communicated to us by the interim board of 9mobile, to enable us guide the preferred bidder on how to apply to NCC for operational licence transfer. But as I speak to you, NCC is yet to receive any official notice from 9mobile, indicating its choice for the preferred and reserve bidder of the telecoms company," Dare said.
He noted that since Barclays Africa submitted its recommendations to the interim board of 9mobile, the board will meet, make their selection, and communicate same to NCC and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which it is yet do.
However, an industry source close to 9mobile, insisted that the board has selected Teleology Holdings Limited as its preferred bidder, and Smile Holdings Limited, as its reserve bidder and that the board has equally communicated same to NCC.
Meanwhile, Dare has ruled out licence revocation as sanction against six companies allegedly implicated in call masking activities in Nigeria's telecoms industry, as revocation will be inimical to the growth of the telecoms sector.