Rimbo Holding has emerged as the frontrunner in the battle for control of Orange Niger, according to local news reports. Rimbo is owned by Mohamed Rhissa Ali, who is reportedly a minority shareholder in Orange Niger. In order to bankroll the deal, the businessman has teamed up with his Malian associate Moctar Tchiam, who is said to hold shares in both Orange Niger and Orange Mali.
According to La Tribune Afrique, the takeover deal was agreed on 21 August and negotiations are currently ongoing with major creditors, who are said to include Nigerian banks. The cash-strapped cellco filed for judicial protection with the Commercial Court of Niamey in February, and the new owners will need to reach an agreement with creditors as a matter of urgency.
The deal with Rimbo Holding represents a major blow to rival suitor Telecel Global, which had previously agreed a takeover for the ailing mobile operator. That deal – agreed earlier in August – had been submitted to the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Post (Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et de la Poste, ARCEP), only for Rimbo to leverage its position as a minority shareholder and disrupt the process.