There are indications that UK’s Barclays must have pulled out as the financial adviser in the 9mobile equity sale deal.
Barclays’ decision to back out was as a result of Nigeria’s Central Bank and the Nigeria Communications Commission’s (NCC) query about Barclays non-transparent approach to the planned sale of 9mobile.
According to a query letter issued by the NCC and the CBN, Umar Danbatta, the executive vice-chairman of NCC, and Godwin Emefiele complained that:
“They (Barclays) have repeatedly exhibited signs of opacity in the sale process for 9mobile. Given the overriding public interest in the company and the need for transparency, we advised that Barclays advertise the call for ‘expression of interest’. Barclays declined, insisting instead that the company is a private one, should not be taken through a public sale,” the query said.
“This lack of a transparent process has proven to be selective and arbitrary, leading to allegations that the process is being teleguided to a rigged and predetermined outcome. The CBN and the NCC will not fold their arms and allow this to materialise.”
The pull out of Barclays will further dent the future prospect of 9mobile as the company has not paid its creditors. Several banks involved in the USD1.2 billion debt have piled up impairments in their books waiting to get their monies back as soon as the company gets a buyer.
Formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria, 9mobile was taken over by several Nigerian lenders alongside foreign consortium from Mubadala Development Company PSJC and UAE-based Etisalat Group after they failed to pay up the syndicated dollar loan.
9mobile has 20 million subscribers in Nigeria playing in a market that is heavily saturated as the smallest mobile carrier.