NCC Yet to Receive Notice on 9mobile Preferred Bidder


Emma Okonji

Contrary to reports that the interim board of 9mobile has sent a notice to the telecoms industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), on the choice of their preferred bidder for the sale of 9mobile, NCC yesterday denied ever receiving such notice.

The Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management, Sunday Dare, who refuted the report, told journalists in Lagos that NCC would not take the interest of a particular bidder above others, but that the commission would be glad if 9mobile is eventually sold to a financially capable investor that is willing to invest in 9mobile.

“As a regulator, we will be glad to hear from the right source that 9mobile has a preferred bidder, and that must be communicated to us by the interim board of 9mobile to enable us guide the preferred bidder on how to apply to NCC for operational licence transfer, but as I speak to you, NCC is yet to receive any official notice from 9mobile, indicating its choice for the preferred and reserve bidder of the telecoms company,” Dare said.

NCC’s comment, puts to rest, the report making the rounds that Barclays Africa, the financial adviser handling the sale of 9mobile has submitted its recommendations to the interim board of 9mobile, who met last week and adopted Teleology Holdings Limited as the preferred bidder and Smile Holdings Limited as the reserve bidder.

According to Dare, since Barclays Africa has submitted its recommendations to the interim board of 9mobile, the board would meet, make their selection and communicate same to NCC and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which it is yet do.

But in a swift reaction to NCC’s comment, an industry source close to 9mobile, insisted that the board has selected Teleology Holdings Limited as its preferred bidder and Smile Holdings Limited as its reserve bidder and that the board has equally communicated same to NCC.

According to the source, NCC might not want to own up for now until it sees a clear evidence that Teleology is able to raise the bid money within the period of 30 days given it to do so. The matter is already settled and once Teleology is able to make payment as at when due, I am sure NCC will be glad and willing to comment on the other side of the story, the source said.

Reacting to a report that Bharti Airtel and Helios Towers have petitioned the federal government on the sale of 9mobile, complaining that they were not given proper access to assess the benefits and liabilities of the 9mobile during the bid period, a source close to Barclays Africa dismissed the claim as untrue.

According to the source, both Bharti Airtel and Helios had every opportunity to assess the telecoms company and therefore they have no reason to complain in a sale process that have been described by industry stakeholders as transparent.

The source explained that Barclays Africa document, which tracks the due diligence activity of the five shortlisted bidders, shows that there were 2,900 relevant documents in the Virtual Data Room (VDR) set up for 9mobile. OALP is the law firm which wrote 90 page legal assessment for all for the bidders.

Ernst & Young wrote 104 page financial & tax report, Analysys Mason wrote a 194 page commercial & technical report on the process.
A source close to Barclays Africa disclosed that, contrary to the false claims by Airtel and Helios in the petition, Barclays Africa hosted two conference calls with all of the bidders as well as 9mobile’s other major creditors such IHS, Nokia and Huawei.

Only Teleology attended them all and thus was able to make an informed bid. The Source further disclosed that
Helios did not enter the data room, nor attend management presentation day, nor go on any conference calls.
Globacom did not enter the VDR at all. Airtel missed most of the conference calls. If they suffered lack of information it is self-inflicted. To say they were barred from having access is simply not true, the source said.