The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said that the intervention of the apex bank and the Nigerian Communications Commission in the 9mobile loan repayment saga, was due to the systemic importance of the company.
He stated this while responding to questions from journalists shortly after the two-day Monetary Policy Committee meeting held at the apex bank’s headquarters in Abuja.
He said with about 19 million subscribers, there was no way the regulators could allow the company (formerly Etisalat Nigeria) to be “dismembered” by its creditors.
The CBN governor stated that with the processes so far put in place to get new owners for the company, a new investor would emerge before the end of the year.
It would be recalled that about ten companies had advanced to the final stage in bidding for 9mobile.
The companies include Globacom Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s second largest network operator founded in 2003 by business mogul, Chief Michael Adenuga; India’s Bharti Airtel, operating as Airtel in Nigeria; Dangote Group’s telecoms business unit, Alheri Engineering Limited, which has the backing of U.S.-based Blackstone Group with an investment portfolio of $378 billion and a Nigerian subsidiary called the Black Rhino Group; Smile Telecoms Holdings, a South African telecommunications group with subsidiaries in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda; and Helios Towers, the former owner and operator of the largest telecoms tower network in Nigeria and other countries, before it sold its Nigerian infrastructure to HIS.
Other firms that have moved on to the financial bid stage of the competitive tender are: Centricus Capital and Africell, a subsidiary of the Lebanon-based Lintel Group of Companies, with cellular communications operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Uganda; Dubai-based Abraaj Capital, a private equity firm with an investment portfolio of $11 billion; Teleology Holdings Limited, a special purpose vehicle led by a former chief executive of MTN Nigeria, Mr. Adian Wood, and Ericsson; Africa Capital Alliance (ACA), a leading pan-African investment firm based in Lagos; and The Carlyle Group, a U.S.-based multinational private equity, alternative asset management and financial services corporation.
According to Emefiele, “I am optimistic that the sale process is still on track; there is a determination that the sale must take place before December 31, 2017.
“We remain focused on it. There is a rumour that Barclays Africa, the financial advisers, want to withdraw from the transaction. If Barclays decide to do so, they will do so in a letter. Barclays was hired in a letter and if they decide to withdraw, they will do so in form of a letter. But as I speak with you, there is no letter from Barclays.
“We remain focused and I will say that we are holding constant meetings with other important stakeholders to see a harmonious transfer of ownership from the existing owners to new owners by December 31, 2017.”