MTN's 'controversy-free' time in Nigeria may be short-lived

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MTN Nigeria

'controversy-free time' may be short-lived.

Sunday, Feb 16th

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New deadline for sale of Nigeria's 9mobile

New deadline for sale of Nigeria's 9mobile

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have jointly agreed to extend the deadline for the sale of 9mobile to 16 January 2018.

This follows a request for an extension from the operator's board of directors due to "the risk posed by the original year-end deadline for the submission of binding offers by prospective bidders."

NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Umar Danbatta said, "Having carefully considered the reasons given for the proposed extension in the letter under reference, the commission confirms that it has no objection to the request and that the extension can be communicated to the company."

The sale of 9mobile was triggered last year following the decision of UAE's Mubadala Group to pull out of Etisalat Nigeria after its inability to work out a loan repayment plan with a consortium of 13 Nigerian banks that pooled NGN541bn for the operator.

The consortium subsequently took over 9mobile and appointed Barclays Africa to oversee the sale of the company to a new owner.

Local media reports claim five bidders have been shortlisted including Teleology Holdings Limited, promoted by Adrian Wood, the pioneer CEO of MTN Nigeria; Smile Telecoms Holdings; and Helios Investment Partners LLP, as well as Bharti Airtel and Globacom.

NCC favours consolidation

While NCC and the CBN are expected to be actively involved in determining the eventual owner of 9mobile, the regulator has indicated it is in favor of consolidation in the sale.

Sunday Dare, NCC's executive commissioner for stakeholders' management, said the commission believes consolidation to be in the best interest of the industry.

"Whoever emerges as the winner of the current process will undergo another due diligence regarding NCC compliance with licensing conditions, security checks and clearance and protection of national interest."

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