The sales process of 9mobile will now be concluded on January 16, 2018 following an approval of the extension of the deadline by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), according to agency reports.
The new date became necessary as the previous deadline of December 31, 2017 could not be achieved.
Thus the extension by the Board of Directors of Emerging Markets Telecoms Services Ltd, owners of the 9mobile licence.
In a letter to the Cnetral Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele, Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, acknowledged the risk posed by the year-end deadline for submission of binding offers by prospective investors for the purchase of 9mobile.
Umar reportedly wrote: “The Commission is in receipt of a letter dated 29th November 2017 by which the Board of Directors of Emerging Markets Telecoms Services Ltd. (9Mobile) requested for an extension of the deadline for the submission of binding offers by prospective bidders from 31st December 2017 to 16th of January 2018.
“Having carefully considered the reasons given for the proposed extension in the letter under reference, the Commission confirms that it has no objection to the request and that the extension can be communicated to the company.
“We thank you for your kind consideration.”
The company formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria was taken over in July 2017 following a N541 billion debt overhang.
Mubadala Group, the major investor from the United Arab Emirates, pulled out of Nigeria’s fourth largest mobile operator as a result of the debt owed to a consortium of 13 banks.
9mobile is being prepared for sale by Barclays Africa.
Five bidders have made the final list of potential buyers: Teleology Holdings Limited, promoted by Adrian Wood, the pioneer CEO of MTN Nigeria; Smile Telecoms Holdings, a telco operating in Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo DR and South Africa; and Helios Investment Partners LLP, an investment company.
Others are Bharti Airtel, an Indian telco that owns Airtel Nigeria, and Globacom, the Nigerian company owned by Mike Adenuga Jnr.
The telecom regulator, NCC, and the banking watchdog, CBN, are expected to play a key role in the final decision.