The conclusion of the sale process of 9mobile has been postponed till January 16, 2018, by both the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC).
The extension of the deadline was approved by the authorities following a letter written by the board of directors of 9mobile, asking for the extension.
In a letter to Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, acknowledged the risk posed by the year-end deadline for submission of binding offers by prospective bidders for the purchase of 9mobile, it said.
Umar wrote: “The commission is in receipt of a letter dated 29th November 2017 by which the Board of Directors of Emerging Markets Telecoms Services Ltd. (9Mobile) requested for an extension of the deadline for the submission of binding offers by prospective bidders from 31st December 2017 to 16th of January 2018.
“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 company formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria (9mobile) was taken over in July 2017 following a N541 billion debt overhang.
Mubadala Group, the major investor from the United Arab Emirates, pulled out of Nigeria’s fourth largest mobile operator as a result of the debt owed to a consortium of 13 banks.
Five bidders have made the final list of potential buyers: Teleology Holdings Limited, promoted by Adrian Wood, the pioneer CEO of MTN Nigeria; Smile Telecoms Holdings, a telco operating in Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo DR and South Africa; and Helios Investment Partners LLP, an investment company.
Others are Bharti Airtel, an Indian telco that owns Airtel Nigeria, and Globacom, the Nigerian company owned by Mike Adenuga Jnr.
The telecom regulator, NCC, and the banking watchdog, CBN, are expected to play a key role in the final decision.