Nobody would have expected that the sale of 9mobile would continue to linger with uncertainty for so long. But then again, this is Nigeria. And that makes it not an uncommon event.
It was popularly reported last week, that 9Mobile had gotten a new owner. After making a $500 million bid, it was reported that Teleology Holdings had been chosen as the preferred bidder. That sum was far higher than the second highest bid, a $300 million from Smile Communications.
Although the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) did not officially comment on the matter, news went viral that Teleology Holdings had emerged the preferred bidder.
However, it was reported that industry stakeholders did not approve of that deal. They believed that Teleology Holdings lacked both the capacity and a history in the telecom business. The company was seen as not a real one but was set up just for the 9Mobile bidding process.
Airtel and Helios Petition Regulators Over “Irregularities”
In another twist, Airtel and Helios Investment Partners had filed a complaint with regulators about the sale of 9Mobile. The petition was filed on Tuesday, January 30, and sent to the NCC and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Both companies asked regulators in the telecom and banking sectors to review the ongoing sale of 9Mobile.
The petition alleged that there were irregularities, centred around transparency and lack of disclosure on the affairs of the company. The latter issue is the main reason why companies have failed to make informed financial bids.
Airtel Loses Interest in the Sale of 9Mobile
In another report, Airtel has finally opened up about why it quit the bid process. “Airtel is not interested in 9Mobile because it sees little value in the company,” a source disclosed. Another source disclosed that Airtel did not have sufficient information to make an informed bid.
At the start of the year, Airtel was one of five companies shortlisted to make bids. The telco was seen as one of the prominent bidders. If the sale had gone its way, it would make it the largest voice and data network in the country. But the telco failed to tender its bid before the January 16 deadline and withdrew from the process soon after.