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9Mobile bidders form alliance ahead of December 31 deadline



Indications have emerged that four 9Mobile bidders are currently in alliance against one another in the race to secure the telecommunications firm.

The Financial Advisor, Barclays Africa, has a mandate in its agreement with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the lending bank to get an investor for 9Mobile, formerly Etisalat on or before December 31, 2017 through a transparent process.

As at the beginning of this week, five bidders out of 10 made the final list, of which one is expected to emerge as the preffered bidder to take over 9Mobile assets and liabilities by end of year.

The five bidders are Globacom, Airtel, Smile Communications, Helios and Teleology Holdings Limited.

However, Technology Times, an online news platform, yesterday disclosed that four of the bidders have decided to form an alliance against the remaining bidder in order to be able to emerge as the preferred bidder.

If the four bidders agree, the tie-up may seal the deal between two contenders.

The report said the architects of the alliance plan to pool resources that would bring to the table a good offer that would guarantee that they secure majority stakes to control 9Mobile.

It added that it was not yet known if they would create a Joint Venture (JV) vehicle to advance their plan to gain ownership of the firm.

Market analysts suggest that beyond buying 9Mobile, parties in favour of the alliance believe that it would change the fortunes of the mobile network operator, as the combined entity post sale will become the biggest mobile phone company in Nigeria.

Accordingly, the details of the plan are being kept a secret to forestall likely unexpected consequences that may avert closing the purchase deal.

The telecommunications firm is being sold after regulators saved it from collapse when the investment fund and Etisalat exited the country in June following the default of a $1.2 billion loan.

Market analysts believe that the battle for the soul of 9Mobile rest strictly between Globacom and Airtel because of their financial war chest and experiences in the Nigerian market.

Should either be successful in the bid, the additional connections would see them overtake MTN as market leader.

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