Anxiety as MTN Nigeria considers stake in 9mobile

Indications emerged yesterday that MTN Nigeria is seriously eyeing stakes in its competitor, 9mobile. According to information gathered, except for any last-minute change, MTN Nigeria and Emerging Markets Telecommunications Service Limited ...
MTNN

MTN

Indications emerged yesterday that MTN Nigeria is seriously eyeing stakes in its competitor, 9mobile. According to information gathered, except for any last-minute change, MTN Nigeria and Emerging Markets Telecommunications Service Limited (EMTS), trading as 9mobile in Nigeria, are in the advanced stage of spectrum trade negotiations as a viable option for closing a telecoms deal.
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Technology Times reports that the spectrum trade option is being considered to revive 9mobile after the telecommunications firm fell on hard times in the wake of the exit of its key technical partner and investors, Mubadala of United Arab Emirate (UAE) in 2017.

While the spokesperson for 9mobile, Chineze Amanfo, didn’t pick her call as at press time to confirm or deny the development, however, a source in MTN told The Guardian that the deal is serious and very much on between the two telecommunications firms.

According to the source, “the deal is on between the two firms. MTN will start with the spectrum and you know the implication of that. Spectrum is the life wire of any telecoms firm. It is still unfolding and more developments will be revealed in the coming weeks.”

However, a very close source to 9mobile, who spoke with The Guardian, also on anonymity, said there was no substance in the news flying up and down in the media.

“If you read the story very well on the online platform, you will see that it is disjointed. One place, it talks about spectrum, another MVNO, later Globacom COO. I believe strongly that if 9mobile wants to sell stakes to MTN, the management would come out clear and talk straight about it. There is absolutely no direction in the story currently making the round in the media,” he stated.

While the news has stirred up concerns in the industry, especially possible dominance of the sector by MTN, checks by The Guardian showed that 9mobile, which celebrated its 15th year anniversary in Nigeria, last month, currently has 13.8 million customers with 6.28 per cent market share. MTN, which has maintained control of Nigeria’s $77 billion telecoms sector since the revolutions started over two decades now, services 85 million subscribers and has a market reach of 38.5 per cent.

According to a report, the option of spectrum trade between MTN Nigeria and 9mobile was said to have reached an advanced stage under the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari but was temporarily suspended after the impending deal faced pushback over competition concerns.
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Recall that The Guardian had reported in May, how Buhari allegedly waived N70 billion spectrum fee for 9mobile.In the letter detailing the waiver, NCC said it conveyed the approval of Mr. President on the prayers of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isah Pantami, for necessary action.

According to the letter, the prayers were: a 50 per cent waiver on the total amount on the outstanding spectrum fees due to the Federal Government of Nigeria; installment payment of the balance of 50 per cent (unwaived) of the outstanding Spectrum fees spread over a period of 10 years; and that EMTS should make immediate payment of the first installment of the amount (50 per cent) to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

In view of these prayers, EMTS was informed that the amount waived on 900/1800MHz band is N43, 608,048,767.50 and for the 2100MHz band, N29, 329, 977, 600.00.

In addition, the document revealed that installment payment of the balance, yearly, for 900/1800MHz band is N4, 360,804,876.75 and for the 2100MHz band, N2, 932,997,760.00, over a period of 10 years.

EMTS was told that the amount immediately due for the first installment of 900/1800MHz band is N4, 360,804,876.75 and for the 2100MHz band, N2, 932,997,760.00.
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