Unconfirmed reports by the Cable newspapers have suggested that Airtel did not submit a final bid for 9Mobile. This implies that the company may have withdrawn from the bidding process. Airtel reportedly hinged its decision on concerns surrounding how the exercise was being conducted.
While Teleology Holdings Limited submitted a bid in excess of $500 million and Smile Telecoms Holdings quoted close to $300 million, Globacom and private equity firm Helios did not submit any financial bids.
Chequered from the start
The sale process of the telecommunications firm has been chequered from the very start. First was the alleged dissatisfaction of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with certain aspects of the sales process. This was followed by the alleged withdrawal of Barclays Africa, as advisers to the process. This was then vehemently denied by the advisers.
Submission of final bids was due to have closed in December last year, but was extended following a request by 9Mobile’s board.
Spectrum wireless this week obtained a court order declaring the interim board of 9Mobile illegal. The company also claimed to have invested in EMTS, the indigenous investor in the defunct Etisalat Nigeria. The action could thus render the transaction process initiated by the board in jeopardy
Events leading to the planned sale
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.
The lenders were prevailed upon by the Central Bank of Nigeria to hold off on taking provisions for the syndicated loan and agreed to extend it after the apex bank intervened back in July this year.