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Only a deep pocket investor can buy 9Mobile, drive competition–BH Survey

Scanty details from the management corridor of 9Mobile, formally Etisalat Nigeria tend to suggest that suitors, otherwise, buyer pretenders and contenders are lining up, but none is yet to make public its plan to become the next owner of the embattled telecom.

Whereas all issues relating to the former core investor, Etisalat UAE may have rested following their pullout and effective change of name to 9Mobile, and directors’ structure, analysts say the key challenges weakening the spirit of a serious buyer include how to offset the $1.2bn syndicated loans to consortium of Nigerian banks who are not ready for any excuses in the first instance.

This is the more reason why any interested buy will have strong financial muscles, not just to pay for the purchase, but to drive aggressive image recovery and subscriber base growth with new attractive innovations capable of changing the mindset of Nigerian subscribers and boosting subscriber base to a competitive level.

Another hurdle may be some debts owed contractors in-house like Huawei who has recently sacked scores of engineers due to the crisis rocking the telecoms

Already, the banks have appointed advisers, which include Standard Bank of South Africa and Citibank of New York, to receive and evaluate bids from pretenders and contenders.

Sources say every bid will then be reviewed before they are tendered to the board of new directors.

Though pundits had felt that leading national carrier, Globacom has the best structure and comparative advantage to buy up Etisalat, it has not shown any sign of interest.

However, fresh signals indicate that Nigerian cement merchant, BUA Group, Virgin Mobile from the United Kingdom and Vodacom of South Africa are some of the companies that may look at 9Mobile.

But sources close to Vodacom said “I don’t think the company is willing to invest in direct telecoms services now. It is building a new line telecom services in Africa and may soon come to Nigeria, but not through 9Mobile”.