14 February 2019

Nigeria: 9Mobile Mulls Strategy to Remain Competitive

9mobile is considering fresh strategies that would awaken competition in the industry.

THISDAY gathered that Teleology Nigeria, the new owners of 9mobile, are putting the necessary financial muscles behind an audacious campaign to ensure that the telco reclaims lost grounds occasioned by the challenges recently it recently faced.

The new drive is coming shortly after the exit of Teleology Holdings as a result of internal differences between Teleology Nigeria and Teleology Holdings, a situation that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had since mediated upon to protect investor's interests and to ensure business continuity.

When asked how Teleology Nigeria would handle the flow of 9mobile business in the absence of Teleology Holdings, considering its exit, an executive of the company's marketing department who spoke to THISDAY on condition of anonymity said, Teleology Nigeria, which has a majority share in 9mobile, would be investing more in 9mobile to further drive its fresh campaign, designed to reclaim its lost grounds occasioned by its financial crisis.

Part of the campaign plan by 9mobile, according to the source is a celebratory brand campaign tagged, "9nniversary" to commemorate its 10 years of operations in Nigeria.

"We are ready to take back our place in the Nigerian telecoms market and the youth segment. The first thing we have decided to do is to reward those Nigerian subscribers who have kept faith with our brand during our challenging times.

"Then, we will begin to acquire new subscribers. Our new owners are bringing in the necessary financial muscle for us to take our place back in the market. I can tell you, we have a strategy. Watch out for us," the source said.

The Acting Managing Director of the company, Stephane Beulevet, described the plan as a celebration of resilience and triumph in the face of challenges.

THISDAY also learnt that the new owners of 9mobile are currently helping the company invest in 5G capabilities at a time when some of the other telecommunications companies are still celebrating the attainment of 4G capabilities.

9mobile had hinted that its new owners have a Pan-African strategy but chose to begin from Africa's largest market.

Worried about the pulling out of Teleology Holdings from 9mobile, the NCC had said it had taken steps to address the issue in the interest of subscribers, investors and the Nigerian economy.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, had said proactive steps had been taken by the Commission, in line with its regulatory mandate to avert destabilisation of the telecoms industry.

Danbatta, said the commission had already made some moves to address the situation in the interest of 9mobile subscribers and the telecoms industry.

"The bone of contention is between Teleology Holdings Limited and Teleology Nigeria, over some disagreements, but as a regulator that is both customer and investor centric, we have set up some measures to resolve the issue between the two parties.

"We need stability in the telecoms industry and we will do everything possible to protect the interest of both the 9mobile subscribers and its investors and ensure there is no disruption of services," Danbatta said.

Industry stakeholders who are keenly following the development at 9mobile, had advised NCC not to allow Teleology Holdings to pull out of the deal.

"Teleology must not be allowed to truncate the 9mobile transition deal. It must complete what it started and deliver on the promises he made to Nigerians when it rolled out its business model on how to manage 9mobile and bring it back to profitability within few years of take over," an industry expert who did not want his name on print had said.

Teleology Holdings Limited, in a statement, had alleged that Teleology Nigeria Limited had declined to execute a management services contract with the former, which led to its pulling out of the deal last week. According to the statement, "Such a management contract is the typical arrangement with which multinationals operate in Nigeria and is the template with which EMTS engaged Etisalat prior to its (Etisalat) departure.

"It is the same template with which Bharti Airtel is engaged with its local joint venture, Airtel Nigeria and with which MTN Group of South Africa is engaged with its local joint venture, MTN Nigeria.

"It is on the basis of such management agreements that such multinationals are legally able to impact on the operations of the local operator including sourcing of relevant expertise and financing as well as paying dividends to offshore shareholders."

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