Umar Danbatta Executive Vice Chairaman, Nigerian Communications Commission

The Executive Vice-Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta has confirmed that five firms have emerged as bidders for troubled telco, 9Mobile (formerly Etisalat). The five bidders, are Airtel, Globacom, Smile Communications, Helios Investment Partners, and Teleology Holdings Limited. MTN was not listed among the final 5 successful bidders.

  • Teleology holdings is a joint venture between ExMTN Chief Executive Officer Adrian Wood and Ericcson.
  • Globacom is one of Nigeria’s  GSM operators and is owned by billionaire businessman Mike Adenuga.
  • Smile is an Africa focused telco with operations in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda.
  • Bharti Airtel Limited is an Indian global telco services company based in New Delhi, India. It operates in 18 countries across South Asia and Africa.
  • Helios, a private equity investing firm operating in Africa and based in London, United Kingdom.

Prof Danbatta also said the  next stage of the sale process after due diligence would be for the firms evidence of strong financial commitment to buy 9mobile.

He noted that authorities would not just handover 9mobile to any company, but to a very “technically and financially capable company.”

He assured that there would be seamless takeover of the company, and that whoever buys it would improve the fortune of the company.

Figures from Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as at October 2017, shows

  • MTN had 50.7 million subscribers or 36.14% of Nigeria’s GSM market.
  • Globacom was the second largest operator with 37.4 million or 26.6% of the market share
  • Airtel 35.0 million or 25%.
  • Either firm taking over 9Mobile and its 17.1 million customers, means it would be at par with MTN.

Also for Globacom, landing 9Mobile will further increase its dominance in terms of data subscribers.

Globacom has the second largest number of internet subscribers at 26 million, slightly behind MTN that has 32 million internet subscribers amounting to one-third of the 93 million subscribers that accessed the internet through GSM as at October 2017. As call revenue deepens, income from data subscription is the next frontier for telco operators in the country.

Boye Onasanya, CEO 9mobile, said it will have more extensive discussions with the shortlisted parties, as the company gets closer to its final bidder.

“We are now moving on to the next phase, with plans for more extensive DISCUSSIONS and interaction with shortlisted parties, one of whom will emerge as final bidder in the coming weeks.” Onasanya said.

Earlier, no less than 16 firms expressed interest and filed bids with Barclays, 9mobile’s financial advisor.
The companies 16 firms that submitted their Expression of Interest (EOIs) include : MTN, Airtel, Ntel, Virgin Mobile from the United Kingdom and Vodacom of South Africa.Some others are BUA Group, Morning Side Capital Partners, Obot Etiebet & Co, Blackstone Private Equity, and Hamilton and George International Limited.

Deal book 300 x 250

It would be recalled that in July, Etisalat Group informed the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange that it had pulled out of 9mobile, formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria, as a result of controversies surrounding the repayment of a $1.2 billion loan taken by the bank.

Since the takeover, 9mobile, the country’s fourth biggest operator, has lost subscribers. In October its total number of users had fallen to 17.1 million, giving it a 12.2 percent market share, from 20 million subscribers with a 14 percent share earlier this year.


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