9mobile loses more subscribers as uncertainties surrounds company sale


There are more troubles ahead of 9mobile, Nigeria’s fourth largest mobile carrier has the company has witnessed a further drop in its subscribers.

Latest data provided by Nigeria’s telecom regulator, the National Communications Commission, NCC, the company had in the last one month seen its total subscribers drop to 16.9 million as opposed to 16.8 million subscribers in January.

This is a 23% drop on a year on year basis (between 2017 and 2018). This is because a further backtrack of the data shows further bleeding of its subscriber base as it could be recalled that the network at the height of its debt crisis with local and international lenders was disclosing it has about 21 million subscribers.

From this data, it means 9mobile now has 12% market share compared to 15% share it held as at 2017.

The real trouble started for former Etisalat Nigeria, now 9mobile after it could no longer meet up with the repayment plan of its $1.2 billion syndicated loan it took from a coterie of local and international lenders.

The bigger picture in the debacle of 9mobile has since been flagged as a systemic risk to local lenders who are already overshooting their non-performing loan threshold set for them by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Despite the fact that the company is witnessing a silent exodus of subscribers, there is more uncertainty Nigeria’s fourth largest mobile carrier going forward. The bidding process to sell-off the company to a new investor is more or less in a stalemate. Barclays Africa, the financial advisor in the transaction has in recent times made known its concerns in the bid process.

While there seems to be no officially-disclosed winner, there were several media reports that Teleology Holdings was picked as the preferred bidder for 9mobile, a claim the NCC had publicly denounced. In a statement by Director of Public Affairs Tony Ojobo, said:

“The Board also made it clear that pursuant to the powers conferred on the Commission by the provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 and other instruments in that regard, 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.

“NCC will apply all necessary diligence to see the ongoing sale process through to its logical conclusion in a manner that protects the overall national interest and the seamless operation of the national telecommunications network,” Ojobo said.

Moreover, Barclays is already sharing its misgivings over the bidding process as the investment bank alleges interference from 9mobile’s executives. While it has not announced Teleology Holdings as the winner, there are pointers indicating the eventual winner of the bid might be different from the latter.

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