9mobile Denies Speculations of Barclays Withdrawal as Financial Adviser

Emma Okonji

Contrary to the rumour making the rounds that Barclays Africa has pulled out as the financial adviser to 9mobile investment process that will lead to the sale of the telecoms company to a willing and credible investor, the Board of Directors of Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services, trading as 9Mobile, has allayed the rumour, describing it as false information.

Although neither the banks nor the Barclays Africa was ready to speak on the issue when it broke out penultimate week, the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, however told journalists in Abuja after the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting that he was yet to receive any official letter to the purported pullout.

When asked to comment on the situation, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, only referred journalists to the CBN for such comments, a situation that made it difficult to ascertain the true position of things as at that time.

But in a bold move to clarify the issue, the 9mobile, through its Board of Directors, released a statement on its website, informing the public that Barclays Africa is still in charge as the financial adviser to the 9mobile investment process.

Part of the statement read: “Following recent press reports relating to Barclays Africa’s role as financial advisor on the sale of 9mobile, the Board of Directors of Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services, trading as 9mobile wishes to clearly state that these reports are inaccurate. This is not surprising, having come from so-called “sources” without authoritative knowledge of the process.

The board has full faith and confidence in the fairness and transparency of the process. Contrary to media speculation, Barclays Africa has also not resigned its mandate in the transaction and remains committed to a speedy and satisfactory conclusion of the process, for the avoidance of doubt.”

During the rumour period, an industry source said the withdrawal was not unconnected with the joint letter written against Barclays Africa, by the CBN and the NCC, over its alleged involvement in circumventing the due process laid down for the sale of 9mobile.

In a joint letter to Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank), which is the facility agent for the 9mobile syndicated loan, Danbatta and Emefiele expressed displeasure with the “unwillingness of Barclays Africa” to follow due process in the bid.

According to the source the letter was a dent to the integrity of Barclays, being a multinational financial institution, hence their decision to withdraw quietly.

But the recent statement from 9mobile has finally put the matter to rest, as Barclays still remain the financial adviser in the investment process of 9mobile, that will lead to the sale of the telecoms company and the eventual handing over of the telecoms company to its new owners before December 31.

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