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Confusion imminent as 90-day payment window for Teleology on 9mobile draws near

Having met the initial payment of compulsory $50m following its declaration by Barclays Africa as bid winners in the sale of troubled 9mobile, all eyes are now on Teleology Holdings Limited to come up with the final payment very soon having paid first tranche in April.

However, there are fears that even if the remaining payment is made, Teleology may have to face another hurdle suddenly set by the telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), midway into the entire bidding process.

Already, several investment analysts had berated the regulator and its board chairman in particular for coming with a caveat that suggests changing goal post midway into a football match after all.

This is based on the fact that what NCC termed as rules of engagement by whoever that will acquire 9mobile came at a time the bidding process was almost completed. Observers say NCC would have before the commencement of the bidding process, handover its self-styled rules of engagements to Barclays Africa who conducted the process to merge same with its given rules.

The NCC’s rules of engagement are contained in a letter, by Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, its Governing Board signed by the Chairman to the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Godwin Emefiele.

But industry pundits argue that even though the NCC’s letter is partly in recognition of the fact that 9Mobile is indebted to a consortium of banks that are regulated by the CBN, the letter would have been handed to Barclays Africa so as to harmonise all the terms and conditions before resuming the bidding process.

Besides, the most confusing part of the three key terms contained in the letter which says “that the company that will take over should have adequate technical infrastructure on ground” sounds defective as it tends to suggest that foreign investors are not welcome in the first place.

This is so because, no foreign investor coming to buy such a company will have to start with building network infrastructures so as to qualify to bid because this particular condition was not part of what Barclays Africa used to run the process and nowhere in the world will such condition work.

In some quarters, it was further argued that if the last criterion stemmed from NCC’s disavowal of the likelihood of the CBN been swayed by the creditor banks that “only focuses essentially on repayment of outstanding loans,” why was not made clear through Barclays Africa which handled the process on the knowledge of both NCC and the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The other two criteria that will guide the emergence of a preferred bidder for 9Mobile according to NCC’s letter include that; “whichever company would quality as successful bidder to take over 9Mobile has the technical competence apart from financial capability to turn round 9mobile and not further compound its problems,” and; “that the successful bidder should come in with substantial funds (FOREX) to sustain the industry not just recycling funds facilities already within the economy”.