Teleology Holdings has emerged as the preferred bidder for Nigerian wireless operator 9mobile, which was known as Etisalat Nigeria until July 2017, according to Reuters, citing two sources with knowledge of the deal. Teleology has been asked to pay a deposit of USD50 million in March, the unnamed sources said, adding that a deal could take months to complete as it would involve restructuring 9mobile’s debt. Only two out of the five shortlisted bidders submitted a financial offer for 9mobile by the 16 January deadline, namely Teleology, led by former chief executive of MTN Nigeria Adrian Wood, and pan-African LTE operator Smile Telecoms, which has reportedly been named as the reserve bidder. Five companies were shortlisted to participate in the bidding process – Bharti Airtel, Smile Telecoms Holdings, Globacom, investment firm Helios Investment Partners and Teleology Holdings Limited – but only Teleology and Smile made final offers for the cellco.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, the lenders of 9mobile 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 last year. Etisalat Group of the United Arab Emirates 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.