Business Hilights
Tracking Nigeria's Headline Business News Online

Current board at 9mobile has only 90 to 180 days to sell it– CBN

The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has given more insights on the real time frame and duties of the new management of 9Mobile led by Dr. Joseph Nnanna, former deputy governor of the apex bank.

According to itinerary handed down to the ad-hoc management team, they are to stabilize the company and technically position it to appear attractive to potential investors on or before end of 180 days or December 2017.

Emefiele said while the board continues to work out a sustainable transition process that will deliver seamless acquisition or merger as the case may be, the current board of the telecom company is interim and not supposed to last beyond 90 to 180 days from inception.

Already, there are indications that both pretenders and contenders are lining up to grab about 65 per cent shareholding open to new investors from the exit of Mubadala and Emirates Telecom Services of United Arab Emirates.

This is further confirmed by the speed used by 9Mobile to appoint 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 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”.

On why CBN hurriedly intervened, Emefiele said: “We expect that businesses should operate profitably, but we also expect that whatever decision they take should not hurt other important stakeholders in that industry. Etisalat, now 9mobile is one of the four biggest companies in the telecommunications industry in Nigeria with subscriber base of over 20 million. Of course, we also know that the revenue base of the company is very robust”.

“Etisalat employs over 4000 people and if you understand the likely impact of an adverse consequence of losing the company on the lives of these 4000 people directly and indirectly, it is important that we do not allow any creditor that feels disadvantaged to take a decision that negatively affects other stakeholders.”

Business Hilights recalls that the intervention of the CBN was further boosted by the activities of the telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) who stood side by side with the apex bank during the trying times of the former Etisalat Nigeria.