12 January 2018

Nigeria: No Preferred Bidder for 9Mobile's Acquisition, Says NCC

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has denied claims that a particular bidder has been anointed to take over 9Mobile, formerly Etisalat, by all means.

NCC disclosed that it has no powers to do so, stressing that its role is purely regulatory.Barclays Africa, the Financial Advisor, had shortlisted five firms, one of which will emerge the preferred bidder. The firms are Airtel, Globacom, Smile Communications, Teleology Holdings Limited and Helios Investment Partners.

The commission in a statement by its Director of Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, yesterday said its attention has been drawn to newspaper publications alleging that a preferred bidder has been anointed to acquire 9Mobile and otherwise speculating on the outcome of the ownership transfer process.

It said Barclays Africa was in full control of the process leading to the emergence of a new owner for the company, adding that it did not authorise any publication on the matter and was obliged to maintain confidentiality on the matter.

The telecoms regulator disclosed that an approval of the request for extension of time by the 9Mobile Interim Board was given by NCC and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which set the deadline for the receipt of bids for January 16.

Contrary to speculations that a winner will be announced on January 16, "we wish to clarify that Barclays is expected to review the bids received by the deadline and to make recommendations to the 9Mobile Interim Board thereafter."The NCC and CBN will be duly notified once the 9Mobile Interim Board accepts Barclays' recommendations and a winning bid is determined in accordance with the terms of the exercise."

The commission said after the process, the winner will then apply to the commission to commence the process of securing the necessary regulatory approvals from the Board of the NCC to give full effect to the transfer.Teleology Holdings Limited is being promoted by the pioneer Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria, Adrian Wood; Smile Telecoms Holdings, an operator in Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo DR and South Africa; while Helios Investment Partners LLP, is an investment company.

Others are Bharti Airtel, an Indian telecommunications firm that owns Airtel Nigeria and Globacom, the Nigerian company owned by Mike Adenuga.Both Airtel and Globacom are the only Nigerian operators on the list.

Providing further clarification on the matter, a top official of NCC, who spoke to The Guardian, said the commission's intervention has been purely regulatory, stressing that stepping into the matter saved no fewer than 2000 jobs held by Nigerians and other firms from collapse.

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