Five companies have allegedly proceeded to the next stage in the process for acquiring Nigerian wireless operator 9mobile, which was known as Etisalat Nigeria until July this year. According to local newspaper BusinessDay, which cites sources familiar with the matter, the five shortlisted firms are Bharti Airtel, the Indian parent of third-placed Airtel Nigeria; pan-African LTE operator Smile Telecoms Holdings; Nigeria’s second largest cellco Globacom; infrastructure company Helios Towers; and Teleology Holdings Limited.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, the lenders of 9mobile have hired Barclays to find new investors for the country’s fourth largest cellco by subscribers. Then known as Etisalat Nigeria, the firm defaulted on a USD1.2 billion loan with a consortium of 13 local banks earlier this year. Etisalat Group of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) handed over its 45% stake to the security trustee of the firm’s lenders and terminated its existing management and technical support agreements with the cellco. Lenders have delayed taking provisions on the debt and agreed to extend the loan pending the sale to new investors.