Contrary to viral news reports that Teleology Holdings Limited’s takeover of embattled 9mobile is delayed as a result of $100 million debt, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has refuted the claims.
Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of the commission, who was earlier quoted to have made the disclosure of the debt, said the reports were untrue. According to him, debt issue isn’t the hindrance to the takeover of 9mobile by the preferred bidder.
While describing the reports as “speculative and incorrect’’, the NCC Chief maintained that at no time did NCC or himself mention that $100 million debt was delaying 9mobile takeover.
“I want to disabuse the minds of Nigerians, that information isn’t correct; it isn’t from me or the NCC. I never made such a statement. That is clearly not our position at NCC.” – Danbatta
Recall that NCC, alongside the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), have on Wednesday, August 29, concluded the sale of 9mobile to Teleology Holdings Limited. The sale of the third largest telecoms to Teleology was valued at $500 million.
Last February, Teleology Holdings had emerged as the winner of a fiercely contested bidding exercise for 9mobile’s acquisition. The bidding exercise was supervised by Barclays Africa.
But ever since Teleology’s emergence as the winner, drama, and controversies have characterised its 9mobile acquisition bid. These controversies range from opposition posed by other bidders, to the alleged refusal of banks to lend Teleology the rest of the capital it needs to finalise the acquisition bid.
Despite these issues, Teleology Holdings was optimistic that the acquisition process would go on until finalised.
The background to the entire story
The problem with Etisalat Nigeria, now 9mobile, started last year 2017 after the telco defaulted on a $1.2 billion loan it obtained from a consortium of 13 Nigerian banks led by GTBank. This caused the parent company (Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates) to pull out and relinquish its 45% stake in the company.
Following this development, the CBN restrained the Nigerian banks from taking over the telco. The CBN instead, constituted an interim board to oversee the operations of the company.