Reports by Thisday suggest that United Capital Trustees, the receiver manager for 9Mobile, will challenge a court ruling issued last week declaring the interim board of 9Mobile null. Spectrum, according to an official of the company had made indirect investments in EMTS, and was not listed among the company’s shareholders.
The official also also stated that the sale process would proceed as planned.
The top five bidders who made it to the final stage of the bidding process are Airtel, Globacom, Smile, Helios, and Teleology Holdings Limited. Teleology holdings is a joint venture between Ex MTN CEO Adrian Wood and Ericcson. Globacom is one of Nigeria’s 3 major GSM operators and is owned by billionaire businessman Mike Adenuga. Smile is an Africa focused telco with operations in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. Helios is a private equity firm.
United Capital Trustees is managing the telecommunications firm on behalf of a consortium of banks that lent the company then known as Etisalat $1.2 billion.
Spectrum Wireless International, had last week obtained a court order nullifying the board , due to what it termed illegalities and to prevent the company from losing its investment in the telco. Spectrum had invested $35 million in a private placement by Emerging Markets Telecommunications Service (EMTS) in 2009, and was yet to get any returns on its investment. EMTS was a shareholder in Etisalat (now known as 9Mobile) and held a 15% stake.
Counsel to Spectrum alleged that United Capital had stated the 9Mobile board had 7 members, but investigations at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) revealed that the board comprised 20 members.
The saga so far
9Mobile (then known as Etisalat Nigeria) defaulted on a $1.2 billion loan it had obtained from a consortium of banks led by GT Bank. The default led to parent company Etisalat of the UAE pulling out and the banks threatening to take over the firm. They were however prevented from doing so by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). An interim board was subsequently appointed.