The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) are to pick the final winner of the bid for telecommunications operator 9Mobile. This differs from earlier reports that Teleology had been chosen as the winner. The sources quoted by Leadership also disputed the much bandied bid of $500 million by Teleology, but did not provide details of the actual sums that were bid.
Yet another twist
The journey regarding the selection of a new owner for the GSM operator, has been one filled with twists and turns. From rumours of Barclays Africa pulling out of the bid process, to Globacom being a favoured bidder. Airtel was also reported to have pulled out of the final bid, due to alleged irregulairities. The Central Bank of Nigeria had earlier in the bid process also expressed concern about unnamed irregularities. CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, did not however disclose what the discrepancies were.
From a much avowed deadline of December last year, submission of final bids was shifted to January. At this rate, the company may not have a new winner till sometime in February.
Prior to the bid process
The two regulators had to intervene to prevent a consortium of banks led by GT Bank, from taking over 9Mobile ( then known as Etisalat Nigeria) after it defaulted on a $1.2 billion loan. The default led to parent company Etisalat of the UAE pulling out and relinquishing its 45% stake in the telecommunications firm. The banks then appointed United Capital as trustee, and have since taken provisions on the loan.
9Mobile is one Nigeria’s top 4 GSM operators with an estimated 17 million subscribers. The three major GSM operators in the country are MTN, Globacom and Airtel. GSM technology is the dominant means of telecommunication in the country. 9 Mobile (then known as Etisalat Nigeria) began operations in October 2008.