Business Hilights
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9mobile: NCC risks court action, regulatory confidence crisis if it upturns Teleology win

As industry stakeholders’ and banks await the final pronouncement on the substantive bid winner of embattled 9mobile, there are strong indications that high caliber legal battle and crisis of confidence on the regulatory integrity of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) may ensure if Teleology Holdings Limited is edged out after all.

Already, many followers of the deal are beginning to suspect a perfected plan to use ‘Elimination by Substitution’ to bundle away Teleology Holdings and possibly make the way simpler for another bidder who was beaten in the process.

Besides, the consortium of banks whose funds are trapped by formally Etisialt have started giving signals showing that they are becoming tired of the entire but strange stress test for Teleology.

Otherwise, the banks owed by 9Mobile say they feel let down and confounded by the undue delay in completing the sale of the firm to the successful bidder, Teleology which is being promoted by well-respected pioneer CEO of MTN Nigeria, Adrian Wood.

The deal is being held back by the failure of the regulator to issue a certificate of no objection for the operating license of 9Mobile to be passed on to Teleology which came tops in a bid process that was championed by the Central Bank and the same NCC to revive the firm while keeping the creditor banks away from taking control.

Teleology holdings limited, the preferred bidder and new investor of 9mobile had before now, successfully raised and made ready its balance of $251 million which was paid into an escrow account about two weeks before the July 25, 2018 deadline date. This is in addition to the initial $50 million paid as a non-refundable deposit on March 21 2018, to show commitment on the sale in fulfillment of its buyer obligation but it is still unable to gain control as a result of what the banks call the “intrigues and unseen hands” bent on wrecking the ship.

Analysts who spoke with Business Hilights on Tuesday, failed to rule out chances of court action if NCC comes out with a verdict that Teleology did not do well in its integrity test considering the fact that it has met every standard so listed prior to the bidding process before the sudden change of sale process which was not mentioned either before or during the bidding process conducted by Barclays Africa.

Apart from Teleology, the consortium of banks may further approach a federal high court to seek interpretation of the meaning of the ongoing stress test on Teleology Holdings by the NCC.

Observers queried why NCC failed to hand over the handling firm, all the terms and conditions it wished to test bidders so that Barclays’ Africa integrate them with their set standards before the beginning of the bidding process.

According to them, such back and forth process suggests hidden agenda and more explanation is therefore needed from the regulator on why it waited till after a bidder is named before beginning its stress test to avoid the viral view that NCC is targeting a particular bidder after all.

It would be recalled that Barclays Africa had since earlier this year, named Teleology Holdings Limited as the preferred bid winner with Smile Communications as reserved, but NCC suddenly insisted that it must conduct a fresh integrity test when the preferred had made reasonable payments ahead of taking over the troubled telecoms.

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