9Mobile appoints advisers on potential sale to new investors

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After stabilising its operations and effecting a name change, former Etisalat Nigeria, 9Mobile has appointed financial advisers for a potential acquisition of the company.

The development was hinted by the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who disclosed that 9Mobile has seen a surge from new investors who are looking at taking a majority stake in the company.

According to Emefiele, 9Mobile recorded 16 billion as gross revenue in June, affirming that the bank’s subscriber base was stable despite its turbulent status during its debt renegotiation with local lenders.

“I am very gratified at the surge by potential investors who have written showing interest. Advisers will eventually call for RFPs (request for proposals), everyone will go into a data room and conduct due diligence, and the best person … will win,” he said.

The road to acquisition to 9Mobile is expected to get cleared in the next few weeks. There are speculations that the fourth largest mobile carrier already has investors who are waiting to perfect regulatory papers with the CBN and the Nigerian Telecommunications Commission, NCC.

Early this month, PageOne.ng, reported that Dangote Industries is said to have acquired 60% stake in Etisalat Nigeria. This is based on unconfirmed but reliable sources in Nigeria’s financial services sector.

Dangote Industries is owned by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote with investment across various sectors of Nigeria and Africa’s economy.

According to the sources who pleaded not to be named, French and one of the major mobile carriers in Africa, Orange Telecom as well as Vodafone are in high-level discussions to take up the remaining 40% stake in Etisalat Nigeria.

Neither 9Mobile nor all entities mentioned in the story obliged to comment or deny the speculations.

Earlier last week, Boye Olusanya, the company’s new chief executive said 9Mobile is willing to start talks with new investors.

The willingness of the company to quickly get into an acquisition mode was buttressed by him when he said that: “Like any business, we are always available for someone with a good offer. We are prepared to manage this business for the long haul. This brand was not developed with the mindset that it’s a three-month brand.”

He added that: “If at any point in time someone does come in with an offer that is attractive then that person will have the right to do whatever they want to do with the brand.”

The company’s journey to 9Mobile was warranted when the defunct Etisalat Nigeria entered troubled waters after it was unable to meet up with the repayment of its USD1.2 billion debt it owed a consortium of 13 local banks and other international lenders. Mubadala Development Company PSJC, a 45% shareholder and Etisalat Group of UAE with 40% stake in the company have since exited their stake after debt negotiation broke down.

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