A report has it that Bharti Airtel, Globacom, Dangote’s Alheri Engineering and seven others investors are struggling to acquire 9mobile, which was formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria, as bankers push to complete the sale by December 31.
According to the Guardian, the companies that are seriously vying for a take-over of 9mobile before the end of the year include Abraaj Capital, Africa Capital Alliance, Carlyle Group, Centricus Capital and Africell, Helios Towers, Smile Telecoms Holdings and Teleology Holdings. The bidding process is being handled by Barclays Africa.
However, market analysts have opined that the battle for 9Mobile is really between Globacom and Airtel. This is because of their financial war chest and experience of the Nigerian market. Evidently, acquiring the assets (infrastructure and existing connections) of 9mobile may see them overtake MTN as the Nigerian market leader should either be successful in the bid. Hence, the more reason either are deeply involved in the race.
As it stands, Globacom trails MTN in the Nigerian telecoms industry share dominance. MTN, with 50.7 million customers, controls 36 percent market share. Globacom controls 26.6 percent market share and 37 million customers. Airtel is currently the third largest operator with 35 million customers as of October representing 25 percent market share. 9Mobile has 17 million customers, which is 12.2 percent of the market.
This follows earlier reports that 16 firms have submitted expressions of interest (EoIs) to Barclays to bid for 9mobile after complying with the deadline for the submission of Expression of Interests at Barclays’ office in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Recall that drama started when Etisalat NG defaulted on the payment of a $1.2 billion debts they owed a number of banks, banks which included many Nigerian banks and some foreign ones. This lead to the take-over of the company an the subsequent offer for sale. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been instrumental in resolving the crisis so far.
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