6 March 2018

Nigeria: Smile Telecoms Seeks Review of Bidding Process for 9mobile

A communications firm, Smile Telecoms Holdings Limited, has urged a review of the acquisition of 9Mobile network.

The company disclosed its position in a letter by its solicitors, Templars, to Barclays Africa, dated February 21, 2018.

It faulted the process, in which the Financial Advisor, Barclays Africa, announced Teleology Holdings as the preferred bidder.

In the two-page letter, Smile Telecoms expressed disappointment at the manner, in which the selection process for the preferred bidder and reserved bidder was conducted.

According to the company, the selection of the preferred bidder was announced before the deadline of February 26, 2018, as set out in the process letter.

An industry source told The Guardian that Smile had requested Barclays to, as a matter of fairness and urgency, provide a practicable and verifiable (and preferably third-party authenticated) proof.

Such should be that Teleology Holdings has been selected as the preferred bidder, and had indeed satisfied all the conditions precedent to the selection.

However, the source disclosed that in its reply of February 26, 2018, Barclays Africa promised to "be in touch with Smile Telecoms to discuss any updates on the transaction to the extent considered necessary."

Barclays was said to have expressed gratitude for Smile Telecoms' continued interest in the transaction, but noted that its clients exercised their rights at their sole discretion, to pursue an alternative path to the completion of the transaction.

Barclays pledged its willingness to explore transaction completion with Smile Telecoms, should the pending process not reach a satisfactory conclusion.

It was further leant that Barclays Africa's letter evaded the critical issues of due process and eligibility in announcing the preferred bidder.

The source expressed concern at the preferred bidder meeting the laid down requirements for the transactions.

Barclays Africa had in a letter to Teleology, mandated it to pay a non-refundable cash deposit of $50 million within 21 days from the date of the letter, dated February 21, 2018, or lose the bid to the reserved bidder, Smile Telecoms Limited.


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