9mobile Set For Acquisition As Deadline Lapses

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Lagos, Nigeria, December 29, 2017// – Anxiety has heightened over who wins the sales pitch for 9mobile, formerly Etisalat, barely two days to the deadline for the emergence of a fresh investor.

The order concerning the telecoms company was issued by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Globacom Limited, Bharti Airtel, Smile Telecoms Holdings, Helios Investment Partners LLP, and Teleology Holdings Limited have all been shortlisted as the five bidders still in the running to buy 9mobile.

9mobile is Nigeria’s fourth largest telecommunications provider, but it ran into financial problems with some banks in July.

Among the five bidders jostling for the last phase of the acquisition bid, there are indications that Globacom and Airtel could be possible winners.

Reports have it that the remaining four bidders have formed an alliance to reduce the chances of the remaining one which appeared to have the financial muscle to crush the other bidders ahead of the deadline.

Accordingly, the architects of the alliance bid intend to pool resources that would bring to the table an unbeatable offer that would guarantee that they secure control of 9mobile.

9mobile is being sold after regulators saved the company from collapse when both an investment fund and Etisalat exited the country in June, following the default of a $1.2 billion loan.

The pruning of the bidders’ list from about 10 initial bidders competing for the soul of 9mobile to five was done by the company’s financial adviser, Barclays Africa.

Market analysts believe that the battle for the soul of 9mobile rests strictly between Globacom and Airtel because of their financial muscles and experiences in the Nigerian market.

Should either be successful in the bid, the additional connections would see it overtake MTN as market leader.

Globacom is second after MTN, and controls 26.6 percent market share and 37 million customers, where Airtel is third with 35 million customers as at the end of October.

Embattled 9mobile has 17 million customers, which is 12.2 percent of the market.

MTN with 50.7 million customers controls 36 percent market share.

Prior to the quest for 9mobile, industry analysts said, in view of its position in the market, 9mobile may not be very attractive to international buyers when considered against the $1.2 billion syndicated loan default which is now a liability that must be factored in any acquisition bid.

They believe that aside from the liabilities, it would be easier for an existing player in the industry wishing to raise its bar of market share to buy up the company and sharply rise to become a strong competitor.

Against this backdrop, leading national carrier, Globacom, is considered a better match if it truly desires to lead the Nigerian market.

They submitted that if Glo mustered the courage to take the bull by the horns and acquire 9mobile, the narrative on the industry lead will change immediately.

This is so because when Glo adds up its 26.6 percent with 9mobile’s 12.2 percent, it would rise to 38.8 percent and tactically dethrone MTN, which is currently at 36 percent.

Market analysts believe that Glo would make better advantage of 9mobile investment, should it prevail over other bidders, because among other things, the telecommunications firm is poised to bring in the wireless broadband revolution faster, and to a larger cross-section of the Nigerian population.

Already, it has a 4G network covering the major cities in 700 Mhz band, unlike any other operator in Nigeria.

This will also complement what it will meet at 9mobile which, also in October, launched its 4G services.

Besides, Globacom, which started operation in August 2003, is the second national carrier licence holder, which enables it to have fixed line, broadband, mobile telecommunication platforms.

Glo’s operation is boosted by its submarine cable from Europe, which is laid across the length and breadth of Nigeria. Independent.ng


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