There are strong indications that Teleology Holdings Limited may have been selected as the preferred bidder for 9Mobile, formerly Etisalat Nigeria, the country’s fourth-largest mobile network.
This development may have put to an end the acquisition process supervised by Barclays Africa, the transaction advisors.
Promoted by Adrian Wood, the pioneer chief executive officer of MTN Nigeria, Teleology emerged as the new owner of 9mobile ahead of Smile, which had been the only other bidder in the final round of the takeover bid.
It is believed that Teleology, a private equity firm with an investment portfolio of $11bn, offered more than $500 million to acquire the mobile network while Smile offered about $300 million.
Though over 10 bidders had indicated interest in acquiring the mobile network, only five were shortlisted before the number was further reduced to three. While Globacom and Helios failed to back their technical bids with concrete financial bids, Airtel later pulled out of the process, leaving just Teleology and Smile Communications.
Industry sources said Airtel developed cold feet over insinuations that whoever takes over 9Mobile may be face mounting debt.
However, ThisDay reports that the preferred bidder is therefore expected to make payment within a given period, to take full possession of the telecoms company.
Although Spectrum Wireless Communication has obtained a court injunction stopping the sale of 9mobile, claiming that it invested over $35 million in the telecoms company, and that the repayment was not factored into the planned sale of 9mobile, the source said the case has been appealed.
Meanwhile, the telecommunications industry awaits an official statement on the development by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the future direction of the network.