Business Hilights
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9Mobile: Is NCC’s technical evaluation on Teleology becoming endless?

…Nigerians worried on dearth of information on 9Mobile’s acclaimed bid winner

Whereas the consortium of banks that raised the over $2.1bn facility which 9mobile, formally Etisalat Nigeria defaulted, are running out of patience, telecoms industry players are also becoming apprehensive on what is really in the mind of the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reference to the observed delays in making public its technical evaluation report on bid winners, Teleology Holding Limited (THL).

Besides, a new wave of silent controversy seems to have for long, enveloped THL over scarcity of corporate details as the company is yet to host a website where Nigerians and even relevant government agencies can access strategic information about the company coming to run the affairs of 9Mobile in Nigeria.

A lot of stakeholders who spoke to our correspondent doubt the true existence of Teleology Holding in Nigeria. Some observers say one of the key worries of NCC may not be unconnected with the apparent scantiness of details, information on real Nigerian stakeholders in Teleology Holding Limited and key financiers to beef up the confidence of the consortium of banks whose funds had been on the line for over one year.

To many followers of planned entry of Teleology to Nigeria, dearth of strategic details cast more doubts and further present’s suspicion o n the real agenda of the foreign firm in the nation’s telecoms industry.

Business Hilights recalls that in April, the board of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) said the telecom industry regulator would not approve the sale of 9mobile to any bidder without first determining its technical competence.
Also, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, said despite the emergence of Teleology Technology with a bid of over $500 million, the Central Bank of Nigeria would still carry out a financial evaluation of the bidder while NCC will further carry out a technical evaluation to establish the company’s technical competence.
In September, NCC boss who spoke on the sidelines of the 2nd Annual Stakeholders Consultative Forum with Academia and Industry in Abuja, clarified that the delay in Teleology Technology taking over 9mobile was because the technical evaluation process was yet to be completed.
Though Prof Danbatta denied media reports that the delay was as a result of accumulated $100million debt by 9mobile to some equipment manufacturers, analysts say the absolute silence of the regulator on the matter is becoming more dangerous in scaring away foreign investors’ that the recent differences between MTN Nigeria and the federal government.
Even as Danbatta assured in September that “As soon as the necessary checks and investigations being carried out are satisfactorily concluded and approved by the NCC board, the preferred bidder will take over 9mobile,” observers say there are still more that meets the eyes on the matter which the NCC is hiding before the waiting followers of the bid process conducted by Barclays Africa.
Besides, another narrative this time, from the chairman of NCC board, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, is that the cause of the delay was because Barclays Africa, the appointed transaction financial adviser, was yet to submit its final report on the sale process to the NCC.

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Adrian Wood, promoter of Teleology Holdings Limited, new possible owners of 9mobile

According to him, “We are not giving it (9mobile) to them (Teleology) yet. The Barclays Africa that rated them has not completed their work, and we at the board are yet to get the final report,” Mr. Durojaiye told Nigerian journalists in Durban, South Africa during the recent ITU summit.
He noted that “Teleology would not get the 9mobile licence without the approval of the commission’s board. They have to satisfy and pass some conditions set before the takeover. They must have passed the competence test. They must have the capability to retain all the former staff of 9mobile.
“We don’t want a situation where about 4,000 workers would be laid off just because of takeover. Already there is unemployment in the country and we don’t want the takeover to add to that.
“So, that is why we are putting every necessary thing in order to forestall all negative things that may occur after takeover.”
However, pundits have raised series of questions for the Commission including; (1), Is it possible that Barclays Africa did not factor in both technical and financial integrity tests during the bidding process that produced teleology Holdings?; (2), How long will it take NCC and CBN to complete the currently endless tests; (3), Are both NCC and CBN aware that all these delays are piling pressure on nonperforming loan (NPL) profiles of the banks whose money is tied down since the apparent collapse of Etisalat; (4), Is it not time for both NCC and CBN to give a clear timeline when their almighty integrity test will be completed and made public.
Besides, one billion dollar question will continue to hang on the neck of both NCC and CBN on what happens to the hard currencies so far paid by Teleology Holdings if any of their integrity reports or both are negative?