Written by Sarah NEGEDU

Bidders test financial strength of 9mobile

The five companies in the running for possible take-over of 9mobile are currently conducting due diligence on the company to ascertain its financial health before bidding, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has said.

Executive Vice Chairman of the commission, Prof. Umar Danbattaa, said the bidders have been directed to proceed to data room stage, where they are allowed access to financial documents of the company.

Danbatta, who disclosed this during the 82nd edition of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer parliament in Abuja, said the next stage of the sale process after due diligence would be for the firms evidence of strong financial and technical capacity to run 9mobile.

He said the NCC is supervising the takeover process alongside the Central Bank of Nigeria, stressing that Nigerian authorities would not just handover 9mobile to any company, but to a very “technically and financially capable company.”

In his words, “Five bidders have emerged for 9mobile. They have been allowed to assess the data room of 9mobile in order to enable them to assess the financial status of the company and subsequently make bids for its takeover. But the takeover must be in a regulated manner.

“The CBN and the NCC are supervising what is going on through an interim board jointly appointed by the NCC and the 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 delivery of qualitative telecoms services in the country.”

Speaking on the deadline for the handover of 9mobile to the successful bidder, the NCC boss said the December 31 scheduled date remains sacrosanct.

9mobile, formerly Etisalat Nigeria, rebranded in July this year, after its owners failed to negotiate with its lenders over a missed payment of the $1.2billion loan taken from 13 Nigerian banks in 2013.

Meanwhile on value added services, Danbatta said there is the need to balance the value the services would bring to consumer experience, with expectation of less intrusive service.

According to him, “Value Added Service is an important service necessary for optimising the benefits of telecoms services to the consumers. It enables in a very special way social media and e-commerce activities that might be useful to the consumer while offering a veritable tool for entrepreneurs and businesses in this modern and mobile age of the Internet of Things.”

The five companies bidding for ownership of the fourth largest telecommunication company in Nigeria include, Globacom Limited, Bharti Airtel, Smile Telecoms Holdings, Helios Investment Partners LLP and Teleology Holdings Limited.

The companies were selected through a process conducted by Barclays Bank, the financial adviser to the creditor banks, on December 4.

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