NCC Blames Delay in 9mobile Sales on Accumulated Debts

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    •Says report on due diligence ready soon

    Emma Okonji

    The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has explained that the delay in the conclusion of the sales of 9mobile, and the possible handover of the telecoms company to Teleology Holdings Limited, the preferred bidder was as a result of the acculturated debts owed by 9mobile, which he said must be fully paid before the company could be sold out to the preferred bidder.

    According to him, 9mobile was indebted to the Commission at the tune of over N15 billion in Annual Operating Levy (AOL) fees and Numbering fees, which he said must be cleared according to NCC rule before approval would be given by NCC for the sale of 9mobile.

    Danbatta said 9mobile had initially written the commission, asking for the transfer of the shares of Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS), now trending as 9mobile, to United Capital Trustees, the receiver-manager and the legal representative of the 13 local banks that lent money to Etisalat, now trending as 9mobile.
    He further explained that the NCC had told 9mobile that all the outstanding payment conditions must be met before its sales could be approved by the NCC.

    He listed the conditions to include the payment of N50,000 administrative charge as well as all the accumulated debts of 9mobile.

    9mobile, he said, was indebted to the Commission at the tune of N12 billion as AOL fees for 2016 and 2017; N1 billion for Numbering fees for a period of two years, as well as spectrum fees of N2.3 billion.

    “It is a rule in NCC that all outstanding fees must be paid before NCC must grant approval for transfer of equity from one entity to another. We asked them to pay the fees in full or make part payment as a sign of commitment before any approval will be given. 9mobile however paid 50 per cent of the total of the over N15 billion it was owing and NCC wrote an initial letter of ‘No Objection’ for the approval of the transfer of shares of EMTS to United Capital, as requested by 9mobile,” Danbatta said.

    He however, said there was another request from 9mobile, asking NCC to transfer the shares from United Capital to Teleology, but that NCC gave them another condition before such transfer would be effected.

    The condition, according to him, is that 9mobile must show NCC a clear evidence of the registration of Teleology with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), among other conditions like the conclusion of the due diligence evaluation on Teleology by the NCC, to find out the technical capabilities of Teleology to effectively handle 9mobile.

    Danbatta said NCC had promised to carry out due diligence on Teleology to ascertain its technical competence to buy over 9mobile and that NCC had already set up a technical committee to carry out the due diligence process in order to facilitate the process of the sales of 9mobile.

    “As we speak the committee has concluded its findings and the committee accepted documents from Teleology, with a view to finding the technical capability of Teleology and its corporate governance structure,” Danbatta said.

    “As soon as they meet the next conditions, we will again transmit the final approval letter of ‘No Rejection’ for transfer of shares from United Capital to Teleology, Danbatta further said, but insisted that before the final approval would be given, the committee must make a strong and convincing case to the NCC Board on the outcome of its technical evaluation, to grant approval for the transfer of the operational licence and the spectrum licence of 9mobile from United Capital to Teleology.

    The evaluation report on Teleology would soon be made public and we are on course to conclude the process of the sales of 9mobile and we are assuring Nigerians that we will sure conclude the process if all conditions are met”, Danbatta added.

    He expressed surprise that NCC is being accused of frustrating the process of the sales of 9mobile, and assured Nigerians that it would not frustrate the process because it will gain nothing from doing so.

    Teleology had paid the initial $50 million non refundable cash deposit after it was announced the preferred bidder for 9mobile by Barclays Africa, the Financial Adviser handling the sales of 9mobile. Barclays had equally gave Teleology a window period of 90 days to pay the balance $251 million to take over 9mobile. The 90 days window elapsed June 30, 2018 without Teleology paying the money, blaming the non-payment on the delay of approval letter of ‘No Objection’ from NCC.

    The payment window was extended to another 20 days, which also elapsed in July 2018, without Teleology effecting the payment.

    Teleology had said it had already sourced the $251 million balance money and kept same in escrow account, awaiting the regulatory authorities letters from NCC and SEC before it could order its bank to effect payment.

    Danbatta however said all regulatory conditions must be met by 9mobile, and that its technical evaluation report on Teleology must be submitted to the NCC Board, before the Board could grant the final approval letter.