Telecommunications stakeholders have raised concern over the recent withdrawal of Teleology Holdings from the acquisition deal of 9mobile.
While expressing worries that the pullout could worsen the operational conditions of 9mobile, the stakeholders called for speedy intervention that would address the issue before it escalates.
Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), who reacted to the withdrawal of Teleology Holdings, said the pull-out from the deal, could create a serious setback for 9mobile that has made some progress since the commencement of the acquisition plan. He called on shareholders from Teleology Holdings and Teleology Nigeria to address their differences in the best interest of the Nigerian telecoms industry.
Similarly, the President of the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, who also expressed worries over the exit of Teleology Holdings, said the implication is that 9mobile will begin all over again to look for a technical partner and financier that are willing to invest in 9mobile, since NCC had insisted on a competent technical partner and a financially stable operator to take over 9mobile.
9mobile’s ownership tussle
This all started when 9mobile (formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria) defaulted on a $1.2 billion loan it had obtained from a consortium of Nigerian banks. The default led to its parent company, Etisalat of the UAE pulling out and the banks threatening to take over the firm.
They were, however, prevented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). An interim board was subsequently appointed, and Barclays Africa midwifed a bidding process. Some parties to the process had alleged there were irregularities, a fact that was later denied.
9mobile’s subscriber base has dropped from 22 million in 2016, to 16 million in 2018, since the beginning of the financial crisis that rocked the telecoms company in 2017.