Business Hilights
Tracking Nigeria's Headline Business News Online

Banks’ bicker as NCC, CBN, 9mobile board working on too close to call winner

Considering the fact that no further extension will be granted as far the announcement of the new owners of 9mobile is concerned, all 13 banks whose $1.2bn was trapped in the telecoms network expansion drive between 2013 and 2016 are anxiously waiting for the new owners for their money.

Already, many of the affected banks have provisioned their own stake in the syndicated loan default ahead of new operators expected to be announced on or before Tuesday, January 16, 2018.

But as things stand now, no more extension may be tolerated by the banks. A top official of one of the bank told Business Hilights on phone on Sunday that “Nigerians banks had made the highest sacrifice in this matter and may not be able to continue as far as waiting for the new owners of that company is concerned.”

“Recall that the impacts of the defaulted loan largely affected about six of the main lenders out of the 13, but for national interest, we all played down business interest. That level of patriotism may not continue this year,” the banker noted.

The five bidders that made the final list of potential buyers include Globacom, the Nigerian company owned by Mike Adenuga Jnr.; Teleology Holdings Limited, promoted by Adrian Wood, the pioneer CEO of MTN Nigeria; Smile Telecoms Holdings, a telco operating in Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo DR and South Africa; Helios Investment Partners LLP, an investment company; and Bharti Airtel, an Indian telco that owns Airtel Nigeria.

Sources close to Barclays Africa, the sales arranger hinted that all had been set for December 31st bid opening, but for unforeseen last minute hitch which warranted the plea for deadline extension after all.

Business Hilights recalls that 9mobile, formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria was taken over in July 2017 following a N541 billion debt overhang.

The situation was further made risky when Mubadala Group, the major investor from the United Arab Emirates, pulled out as a result of the debt owed to a consortium of 13 banks.

It would be recalled that following communication from the board of 9mobile to Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman of NCC, the regulator wrote Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), acknowledging the risk posed by the year-end deadline for submission of binding offers by prospective bidders for the purchase of 9mobile.

NCC in a terse memo said: “The Commission is in receipt of a letter dated 29th November 2017 by which the Board of Directors of Emerging Markets Telecoms Services Ltd. (9Mobile) requested for an extension of the deadline for the submission of binding offers by prospective bidders from 31st December 2017 to 16th of January 2018.

“Having carefully considered the reasons given for the proposed extension in the letter under reference, the Commission confirms that it has no objection to the request and that the extension can be communicated to the Company.

“We thank you for your kind consideration,” Umar told CBN.

On the standpoint of this memo, the new date of January 16, 2018 was announced.