The preferred bidder of 9mobile, Teleology Holdings Limited and the management of the telecoms company are at loggerheads prompting the new owner to announce withdrawal from the deal.
"Unfortunately, it seems that we will not be able to participate, we must now withdraw from the project," said Adrian Wood, founder of Teleology Holdings Limited.
Prior to the latest development, Wood revealed that since June 2017, 15 Teleology experts have been working on a strategy to turn 9mobile around, including development plans and financial restructuring.
Wood was quoted at the time as saying, "This included more than $500 million in foreign direct investment from international institutions. 9mobile is an exciting opportunity to build a revolutionary mobile network that could be the pride of Nigeria."
In its response to the withdrawal, 9mobile's management accused Teleology of failing to meet its obligations to the partnership in terms of financial resources, physical availability for crucial meetings and extensive network to help build the business.
A statement issued by the company read: "Mr. Wood was not personally present for all the critical presentations made by the consortium during the bid process and failed abjectly with his financing arrangements with Swiss-based UBS Bank. In all these failings, other partners in the consortium filled the gap and pushed ahead until the sale was completed."
9mobile's Director, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, Oluseyi Osunsedo, added, "While we wish him well in his future endeavors, we unequivocally assure our customers, suppliers, partners, regulators, and stakeholders that the Board is committed to continuing the upward mobility of 9mobile. Having invested so heavily in buying the company, and assembling a reliable team to pursue our goals, we want to categorically state that no distractions can stop us from this mission."
This development could worsen the fate of 9mobile which is already struggling with potential disconnection of its base stations by IHS following 9mobile's indebtedness.
Teleology may also forfeit its initial deposit of US$50-million and the additional US$251-million paid as settlement to the banks who had initially taken over the company, as part of the acquisition.
According to stats from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) 9mobile's subscriber base fell from over 22 million in October 2016 to less than 16 million active subscribers as at November 2018.
The NCC is yet to issue an official statement on the latest development.