NCC: no vested interest in 9mobile winner

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

The regulator of the telecoms sector, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said it has no vested interest in any of the firms bidding to acquire 9mobile.

It added that no winner had emerged in the ongoing efforts to sell Nigeria’s fourth largest carrier.

Its Director, Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, in a statement said the process to sell the carrier was ongoing, stressing that Barclays Africa, advisor to the Interim Management of the telco, remained in charge of the process.

According to Ojobo, an approval sought by Barclays Africa to extend the timeline for the submission of final binding bids for the telco to January 16 had earlier been granted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the NCC.

He said: “Barclays Africa remains in full control of the process leading to the emergence of a new owner for the company. Barclays has not authorised any publication on the matter and is obliged to maintain full confidentiality thereon.

“An approval of the request for extension of time by the 9mobile Interim Board was given by the two regulators-NCC and CBN. This set the deadline for the receipt of binding offers from the prospective bidders till January 16, 2018.”

Ojobo said contrary to speculations that a winner will be announced on January 16, Barclays is expected to review the bids received by the deadline and make recommendations to the 9mobile Interim Board thereafter.

“The NCC and CBN will be duly notified once the 9Mobile Interim Board accepts Barclays’ recommendations and a winning bid is determined in accordance with the terms of the exercise.

“The winner will now apply to NCC in order to commence the processes for securing the regulatory approvals from the Board of the NCC necessary to give full effect to the transfer,” he explained.

NCC CEO, Prof Garba Danbatta last year said five entities had emerged as bidders for 9mobile.

The five, all telcos, are Globacom, Airtel, Smile Communications, Helios, and Teleology Holdings Limited. Earlier, no less than 16 firms expressed interest and filed bids with Barclays, 9mobile’s financial advisor.

They include MTN, ntel, Virgin Mobile from the United Kingdom and Vodacom of South Africa. Others are BUA Group, Morning Side Capital Partners, Obot Etiebet & Co, Blackstone Private Equity, and Hamilton and George International Limited.

“Five bidders have emerged for 9mobile. They have been allowed to access the data room of 9mobile in order to enable them access the financial situation of the company and subsequently make bids for the takeover of the company. But the takeover must be in a regulated manner.

“The CBN and NCC are supervising what is going on through an interim board jointly appointed by the NCC and CBN. We are going to do due diligence on the financial capacity of any potential bidder as well as the technical capacity.

“In the final analysis, we will like to see a 9mobile taken over by a bidder who has the financial and technical capacity to improve on the operations of the telco and add value in the delivery of qualitative telecom services in the country,” Dambatta said.

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