10 firms jostling to acquire embattled 9mobile (formerly Etisalat Nigeria) have passed the technical evaluation bid stage and have been pre-qualified to submit their financial bids for the acquisition. The highest bidder will get the nod to own the fourth largest telecom operator in Africa’s most populous country. The million naira question is, Who eventually will get to buy 9mobile?
The Gladiators Bidding To Buy 9mobile
Here is a list (in alphabetical order) of the firms jostling to acquire 9mobile:
- Abraaj Capital
- Africa Capital Alliance
- Alheri Engineering
- Carlyle Group
- Centricus Capital and Africell
- Helios Towers
- Smile Telecoms Holdings
- Teleology Holdings
Each of the above firms are required to submit a $150m bond in order to proceed.
The 9mobile Saga In Brief
Etisalat Nigeria ran into trouble earlier this year when it defaulted on a $1.2 billion loan from a consortium of 13 banks. After a series of interventions without a headway, Etisalat UAE pulled out of the telecom operator, leading to a re-branding exercise.
Who Gets 9mobile?
There is no way to tell for sure at this time. For obvious reasons, I do not believe it is in the best interest of Nigerian subscribers for any of the existing big operators in the country to get their hands on 9mobile. That means I am not rooting for Globacom or Airtel. Reducing the available competition in the market is a no-no.
While Smile Telecoms is an existing operator, it has a rather small footprint and offers only 4G LTE service, so it won’t be a bad idea to have 9mobile fall to them.
Alheri Engineering is the Dangote Groups’ telecom firm and was the one from whom Etisalat Nigeria purchased their 3G license. One is intrigued at the idea of Dangote getting into telecoms. He has his hands everywhere else already. Whey not telecoms?
Eventually, the highest bidder will take the day, so this is a question of which firm has the most cash to throw around. We will find out soon enough.