9Mobile sale plan collapses as Barclays Africa pulls out

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The on-going plans to sell the defunct Etisalat Nigeria now 9Mobile has suffered another hitch as Barclays Africa, has pulled out from its role as financial advisers for the sale of 9mobile. The bank is however yet to issue an official statement confirming the action. The consortium of creditor banks to the telecommunications firm, had in October appointed the bank to midwife the sale process.

Earlier news reports released this week had stated that 10 bidders had been shortlisted According to news reports, 10 out of the 16 interested bidders have been shortlisted into the final stage by Barclays.

The companies are Globacom Nigeria Limited, Bharti Airtel, Alheri Engineering Limited, Smile Telecoms Holdings, Helios Towers, Centricus Capital, Africell, Abraaj Capital, Teleology Holdings Limited, Ericsson, Africa Capital Alliance (ACA) and The Carlyle Group.

What may have led to the action

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had recently written a letter to GT Bank, over the inability of Barclays to follow due process in the selection of bidders. The two regulators, had expressed concern about the lack of transparency in the bidding process, and having received petitions from concerned stakeholders including some of the bidders

Implications of the action

Barclays pulling out means the entire process will have to be repeated from scratch. The telecommunications firm may thus have to remain under the supervision of the regulators.
Etisalat Nigeria had in 2013 obtained a $1.2 billion loan from a consortium of banks led by GT Bank, for network expansion purposes. The company however defaulted on the loan due to a devaluation of the Naira.

The banks then attempted to take over the firm, but where stopped by the NCC and CBN. The crisis also led to the pull out of Etisalat UAE from the venture, and a subsequent name change to 9mo

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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