The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has extended the deadline of the sale of 9mobile, formerly Etisalat Nigeria, to January 16, 2018.
The approval follows a request for extension by the board of directors of Emerging Markets Telecoms Services Ltd, owners of the 9mobile licence.
The sale of 9Mobile was one of the major anticipated deals in the telecommunications sector in 2017. Government regulators who averted the forceful takeover of the telecommunications firm by a consortium of lending banks promised that the deal would be closed on December 31, 2017 and that a major investor would emerge.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had set a six-month deadline from June 2017 for new investors to take over the affairs of the telecommunications firm when it had problem with its investors from the Middle East over failure to redeem a N541 billion debt overhang.
Mubadala Group, the major investor from the United Arab Emirates, pulled out of the mobile operator as a result of the debt owed to a consortium of 13 banks.
As reported by The Cable, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Umar Danbatta, in a letter to Godwin Emefiele, governor of the CBN, acknowledged the risk posed by the year-end deadline for submission of binding offers by prospective bidders for the purchase of the telecom company.
“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,” Danbatta wrote.
“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.”
9mobile is being prepared for sale by Barclays Africa.
Five bidders have made the final list of potential buyers: Globacom, Airtel, Helios, Teleology and Smile Communications.