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9mobile sale: CBN, NCC Blast Barclays Africa





Barclays Africa, the financial advisers, handling the sale process of 9 Mobile have come under attack from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC)

The CBN and the NCC through the Governor and the Executive Vice Chairman respectively wrote a joint letter to GTBank, which is the facility agent for the 9mobile syndicated loan. Umar Danbatta and Godwin Emefiele both expressed their disappointment and displeasure at the “unwillingness of Barclays Africa” to adhere to due process in the bid.

In the letter dated November 4, 2017, the CBN and the NCC who are the regulators said they made it clear from the beginning that the transition process must be “transparent and fair, with the financial and technical capabilities of the final bidders without question”.

They also said there were “serious concerns” since the appointment of Barclays Africa as financial advisers.

They said they now have “serious concerns” since the appointment of Barclays Africa as financial advisers.

The letter reads:

“They 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 the advice insisting instead that the company being a private one, should not be taken through a public sale,”

“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.”

Danbatta and Emefiele also claimed to have received reports and petitions from various stakeholders, including some bidders, which have further raised their concerns — but their suggestions to the board of 9mobile and Barclays on how to restore credibility to the process have been continuously ignored.

The CBN and NCC then directed that all steps and decisions taken by the financial advisers as well as other advisers from the end of “expression of interest” must be communicated to CBN and NCC, who will have to approve in writing.

They also directed that the final bid process must be “open and transparent” in line with international best practices.

Danbatta and Emefiele said the proposed December 31, 2017 deadline for the handover of 9mobile to the preferred bidders “remains sacrosanct”.

News House THISDAY had reported on Monday that 10 firms have moved to the financial stage of the bid process for 9 Mobile.

The firms listed are:

Globacom Nigeria Limited,

Bharti Airtel,

Alheri Engineering Limited,

Smile Telecoms Holdings,

Helios Towers,

Centricus Capital,

Africell,

Abraaj Capital,

Teleology Holdings Limited,

Ericsson,

Africa Capital Alliance (ACA) and The Carlyle Group.

The company formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria changed its brand name to 9Mobile in July after the Mubadala Group, the major investor from the United Arab Emirates, pulled out of Nigeria’s fourth largest mobile operator following a N541 billion debt.

The debt is owed to a consortium of 10 banks, with GTBank acting as the facility agent.

The sale of 9mobile, with 21 million subscribers, is expected to bring in the needed capital to restore it to good health.


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