Thursday, January 17, 2019

Airtel, Helios petition FG over ‘irregularities’ in 9mobile sale process

Airtel, Helios petition FG over ‘irregularities’ in 9mobile sale process
February 01
08:03 2018

The sale process of 9mobile, formerly known as Etisalat, hit a new turn on Tuesday as Bharti Airtel and Helios Investment Partners LLP petitioned industry regulators over alleged “irregularities”.

According to Technology Times, both companies have asked regulators in the telecoms and banking sector to probe the ongoing sale process.

Umar Danbatta, deputy vice-chairman, NCC, Godwin Emefiele, governor, Central Bank of Nigeria and Hasnen Varawalla, head of corporate finance, Barclays Bank, have allegedly received letters of protest to that effect.

The alleged irregularities are centred on transparency and the inability of potential buyers to assess the true nature of the business in order to make an informed decision.

Speaking on the decision to pull out of the company’s sale, an unnamed bidder was quoted as saying they “refused to make a financial bid” for the telco.

“They said that the bankers driving the process didn’t allow access to other creditors of 9mobile and this has impaired their abilities to evaluate the true state of the company on offer from the network planning, integration and other exit costs,” a source who spoke to Technology Times said.

“Given the complexity of the transaction and numerous stakeholders directly impacted by the current situation of the business, we had limited grounding upon which to provide a credible binding offer without this clarity.

“For a transaction of this magnitude, a prospective buyer will want to be provided clarity and comfort on NCC’s approval and authorization to retain the existing 9mobile frequency spectrum assets and their ability to review or exit current business contracts and the cost to the buyer.”

TheCable had reported in November that the NCC and CBN questioned the transparency of the acquisition process.

It was also learnt that Teleology Holdings Limited was primed to emerge the winning bidder, with a bid of $500 million, followed by Smile Communications with a $300 million bid.

Airtel Nigeria, a subsidiary of Bharti Airtel, was one of five finalists that had been shortlisted for the final phase of the transaction.

Mubadala Group, 9mobile’s major investor from the United Arab Emirates, pulled out of the company’s sale over a N541 billion debt owed a consortium of 10 banks.


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