The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced the extension of the deadline for the sale process of 9mobile by 16 days.
Literally, it means that the sale process of 9mobile will now be concluded on January 16, 2018 as against the previous deadline of December 31, 2017.
It is understood that the previous deadline, which is today, could not be met, and this has necessitated a request for extension by the board of directors of Emerging Markets Telecoms Services Ltd, owners of the 9mobile licence.
In a letter to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, sighted by TheCable, Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman of NCC, acknowledged the risk posed by the year-end deadline for submission of binding offers by prospective bidders for the purchase of 9mobile.
He wrote: “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.”
9mobile, which was formerly Etisalat, rebranded after its major owners in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, pulled out and a new board was inaugurated to run its affairs.
This was after failed negotiation with its lenders over a missed payment of the $1.2billion loan taken from a consortium of 13 Nigerian banks in 2013.
9mobile is being prepared for sale by Barclays Africa.
Five bidders have made the final list of potential buyers: 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; and Helios Investment Partners LLP, an investment company.
Others are Bharti Airtel, an Indian telco that owns Airtel Nigeria, and Globacom, the Nigerian company owned by Mike Adenuga Jnr.