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Smile telecoms says sale of 9Mobile ‘untidy’



Smile Telecoms, one of the telcos shortlisted in the bid process for 9Mobile sale, has described as “untidy” the manner in which Barclays Africa, financial advisors to the deal, has so far managed the transaction, and has called for a process review to ensure transparency.

Smile’s position was contained in a letter addressed to Barclays Africa, dated February 21, and signed by Templars; the company’s solicitors.

In the letter, Smile expressed displeasure with the selection process for the Preferred Bidder and Reserve Bidder, and wondered why the selection of the Preferred Bidder was announced before the stated deadline of February 26, 2018, as earlier stated in a process letter to interested parties.


To ensure transparency in the bid process, Smile requested Barclays Africa to urgently provide a “practicable with verifiable (and preferably third-party authenticated) proof” that the party that has been selected as preferred bidder has indeed satisfied all the conditions precedent to that selection.

However, a letter dated February 26, 2018, Barclays Africa replied Smile Telecoms, and promised to “be in touch with Smile to discuss any updates on the transaction, to the extent considered necessary.”

Barclays lauded Smile’s continued interest in the transaction but noted that its clients exercised their rights at their sole discretion to pursue an alternative path to completion of the Transaction.

Barclays restated its willingness to explore Transaction completion with Smile should the pending process not reach a satisfactory conclusion.

A reliable source close to Smile stated that Barclays Africa’s letter evaded the critical issues of due process and eligibility of the announced Preferred Bidder.

The source wondered if the Preferred Bidder was able to meet the laid down requirements for the transactions that required it to reach agreement on any required financial accommodations with the Syndicate Lenders and the Trade Creditors.

The requirement also entails the Preferred Bidder to have firm, unconditional and committed funding for any cash payments and to provide a binding offer that is unconditional, excluding the Formal Licence Approvals.

It would be recalled that the nation’s telecoms regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reassured that only investors with the required technical expertise and financial muscle will buy 9Mobile.

A statement signed by Mr. Tony Ojobo, director, Public Affairs, NCC. stated that the Commission will ensure that all relevant statutory and regulatory processes are duly complied with in the process leading up to the emergence of new owners for the company.

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