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9Mobile Sale: Why Nigeria Must Come First



The story making the rounds that a preferred bidder and a reserved bidder have emerged for 9Mobile has been described as merely “flying a kite” in order to goad the regulatory authorities in the wrong direction. The belief is that an interested party is merely trying to preempt the outcome to suit its purpose.

Information gathered from a reliable source close to the transaction stated that the bid for 9mobile has not been concluded and that the sums quoted as the financial bids of both Teleology Holdings and Smile Telecoms Holdings are inaccurate. The source therefore urged interested parties to play by the rules and not to jeopardize the bid process.

Urging the public to await formal announcement from the appropriate official quarters, it noted that only the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is empowered by law to make such announcement. The source further stated that NCC is wont to get the concurrence of CBN in this particular transaction given the involvement of a consortium of banks to which 9Mobile is obligated

An earlier unconfirmed report claimed that Teleology Holdings had emerged the preferred bidder with Smile Telecoms Holdings as the reserved bidder. Teleology was said to have pledged five hundred million dollars (USD 500m) while Smile was said to have pledged three hundred million dollars (USD 300m). The report, which has now been faulted, led to a groundswell of public opinion urging the regulatory authorities to emphasize more on parameters that will ensure that any firm that emerges the preferred bidder for 9Mobile should be that with the capital, capacity and capability to sustain and enhance the operations of 9Mobile. The aggregation of opinion is that the interest of Nigeria should be paramount hence the need to put “Nigeria First”.

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Emphasis, according to the preponderance of views, should be on concrete contribution to the growth and development of Nigeria’s telecommunications sector, Nigerian experience, technology innovation, human capital development and employment opportunities to Nigerians. If all these are considered, volunteered a notable industry leader who preferred not to be named, Smile will invariably and inevitably emerge the preferred bidder for 9Mobile. His view on the suitability of Smile was collaborated by a Lagos based investment banker Lanre Raji who opined that preference should be given to an existing company with requisite experience and capital adequacy and not a special purpose vehicle so as to avoid an unnecessary and possibly costly experimentation.

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