Nigeria: Preferred bidder pays US$50m for 9mobile

The preferred bidder for 9mobile, Teleology, has confirmed the payment of a non-refundable deposit of US$50 million to the Trustee for the bank syndicate presently holding ownership of 9Mobile ahead of the 22 March deadline set by the financial advisers.

Teleology is led by MTN Nigeria's pioneer Managing Director, Adrian Wood.

In a statement, Teleology said its executives have been meeting the Nigerian bank syndicate, regulators and advisors that culminated in the signing of the Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) and other contractual documents pertaining to the acquisition.

"This payment underscores Teleology's financial capability and readiness to revive the organisation," Teleology stated.

Wood said 9mobile is transiting into a new phase that will be defined by optimal value delivery. "We will strive to ensure that 9mobile operations deliver fulfillment to our customers, empowerment to local communities, protection to the vulnerable, and excellent rewards not only to our shareholders but to all stakeholders."

He added that Teleology has set out a 10-point plan that aggregates its mission to turn 9mobile around.

Part of the plan is to double 9Mobile network with new 3G/4G specific cell sites, as well as expand the fibre optic cable network. This will be extended nationally to drive rural internet coverage and delivery of 4G broadband access for all of Nigeria's 774 local government areas.

Wood also announced that Teleology had entered into an alliance with Safaricom but did not reveal details regarding the partnership, choosing to focus instead on the acquisition announcement.

Teleology is promoted by a group of 12 telecom industry veterans and had the company failed to pay the US$50m fee by deadline, 9mobile would have been acquired by the reserve bidder, Smile Telecoms which had already promised to reposition 9mobile, making it attractive and competitive again within 90 days.

Smile's last-minute appeal

While calling for an independent probe of the selection of Telelogy as preferred bidder, Smile's Executive Director (Operations) Ahmad Farroukh said 9mobile should be sold to an already existing telecoms company that has the right technical expertise and financial strength to turn the company around.

"The 800MHz frequency, which Smile Communications currently operates on, will be added to that of 9mobile to achieve the best frequency ever that will serve the customers better and help 9mobile to come out of its current challenges. Without exaggerating, we are sure to add additional 600 Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, into the operations of 9mobile within a space of 90 days, if given the opportunity to acquire it.

"We will from day one, integrate our existing facilities with that of 9mobile to get the company back to its good old days, when it was the best voice and data telecoms company in Nigeria. "