More Troubles For 9mobile As Another Investor Pulls Out

Demands $35m Refund

Spectrum Wireless Communication has demanded a refund of $35m as part of its investment in Etisalat Nigeria.

This in response to a court judgement on Friday, nullifying the transition board appointed to oversee the sale of 9mobile.

The firm through its solicitors J. A. Achimugu and Co. and Dr. Reuben Atabo, warned organizations still interested in the acquisition of 9mobile that it is doing so at own risk.

“My client wants his money back,” Atabo said while speaking with journalists at a press briefing in Lagos on Sunday.

The lawyer claimed that over $100m investment from Spectrum Wireless and three other investors was used by some directors in the company to build infrastructure, which was used to secure the $1.2bn loan.

According to Atabo, the loan was secured without the prior knowledge of Spectrum Wireless.

He said: “Our client and three other investors put in about $100m as of 2009. The $100m was used in providing infrastructure for the company. It was this infrastructure that gave EMTS the opportunity to go to the banks to obtain the loan of $1.2bn. Is it proper for United Capital not to recognise the original investor when they got the loan?

“We have written series of letters to the Nigerian Communications Commission as the regulating body conveying to them our investment and the need for them to come to our aid. They always tell us they are investigating for the past five to six years.

“Assuming they go ahead with the sale, we will not be recognised at all. It is better the issue is sorted out before the sale is completed.”

Recall that trouble started for the telecom firm after it was unable to resolve a loan of about $1.2bn obtained from a consortium of 13 Nigerian banks under the auspices of United Capital Trustees Limited.

First, Mubadala Group, the major investor from the United Arab Emirates, withdrew its 45 per cent stake in the company.

Following the development, a change of name from Etisalat to 9mobile was effected.

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.

The sale was to be concluded by December 31, 2017 but it was recently moved to January 16.

Five bidders made the final list of potential buyers: Globacom, Airtel, Helios, Teleology and Smile Communications.

However, the Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday nullified the appointment of an interim board for the company.

Justice Ibrahim Buba made the order based on an application by Spectrum Wireless Communication Limited.

The court order nullified the appointment of Dr. Joseph Nnana of the Central Bank of Nigeria as the chairman of the 9mobile; Mr. Boye Olusanya, as managing director; and Mrs. Funke Ighodaro, as chief financial officer.

Others board members are Mr. Seyi Bickersthet and Mr. Ken Igbokwe.

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