By Emma Okonji

Globacom, yesterday debunked media reports purportedly claiming that it had acquired 9mobile in the ongoing bid process for the acquisition of the telecoms company that was being handled by Barclays Africa.

Globacom, which distanced itself from the media reports that it was the preferred bidder to acquire the telecommunications company said in a statement in Lagos yesterday, that the reports were false, as the winner had not been announced.

According to the statement, “Globacom has not acquired 9mobile as widely reported in the media.”

The statement further said: “We are bound by the terms of the acquisition process as stipulated by the authorities handling it and we will not in any way sway or deviate from the rules.

“We repose confidence in Barclays Africa, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which are handling the process that will lead to the emergence of a new owner for the company.

“Globacom urges all stakeholders and, indeed, the Nigerian public to disregard the report.”

Following the inability of the former Etisalat Nigeria, which had since been rebranded as 9mobile, to repay the $1.2 million loan it took from 13 local banks in 2013 for network expansion, citing economic downturn of 2015-2016 and naira devaluation, which negatively impacted on the dollar-denominated component of the loan, the telecoms company decided shop for new investor that will provide the much needed funds to pay the loan and relaunch the telecoms company into profitability.

In order to achieve its desire to repay the loan, Barclays Africa was selected as the financial adviser to handle the sale of 9mobile.

Barclays had last year, shortlisted the final five investors who indicated interest to acquire 9mobile, out of the initial list of 16 investors that were later pruned the 10, before the final selection of five contenders, who had since submitted their expressions of interest (EoIs) to acquire the telecoms company.

The final five include Teleology Holdings Limited, promoted by Adrian Wood, the pioneer CEO of MTN Nigeria; Smile Telecoms Holdings, with operations in Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo DR and South Africa; Helios Investment Partners; Bharti Airtel and Globacom, the telecoms company owned and operated by a Nigerian, Mike Adenuga Jnr.

The process to announce the winner will begin from January 16, which is the deadline for the submission of the final bids from the shortlisted five contenders. Thereafter, Barclays will review the final bid submissions and make its recommendations to the interim board of 9mobile, who will then sit to review the recommendations of Barclays Africa, before the winner is unanimously selected by the interim board, based on the recommendations of Barclays Africa.

Globacom therefore called on Nigerians to disregard the media report claiming that it has acquired 9mobile, and urged them to patiently wait for the announcement of the winner that will be announced after the conclusion of the bid exercise that is still ongoing.