9mobile: Teleology gets 90 days to pay $450m

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that Teleology Holdings Limited is on course to take over 9mobile Nigeria provided the company is able to pay $450 million within the next 90 days.

NCC’s Executive Vice Chairman Prof Umar Garba Danbatta disclosed this yesterday in an interview with journalists after the NCC management paid a courtesy visit to the Central Bank of Nigeria in Abuja.

Prof Danbatta, who for the first time publicly confirmed the $50m deposit made by Teleology Holdings Limited, said the company would get 9mobile when it paid the balance of $450m before the expiration of 90 days deadline.

“Well, the information I have for you is that the preferred bidder has emerged and it has been told to pay, starting with a deposit of  $50 million which the preferred bidder has paid, we have information to this effect.

“What remains is for the preferred bidder to pay the balance of $450 million in the next 90 days, or less than 90 days anyway. And upon payment of that amount, 9mobile would be transferred to the preferred bidder, which is Teleology Holdings Limited.

“In the event Teleology fails to pay after the expiration of the deadline of 90 days then the reserved bidder will be considered and the reserved bidder is Smile. That is the position at the moment, ’’ he said.

The EVC’s clarification will lay to rest the speculation that a highly placed official is against Teleology taking over 9mobile.

There were reports last week that a board member of NCC was allegedly working very hard to shift the goalposts and force the sale of 9mobile to Smile Telecoms Holdings.

The reports claimed that the board member had written a letter to the CBN listing new criteria of “technical expertise” and “at least three years operational history” as new conditions for buying 9mobile.

His letter, the reports claimed, was designed to favour Smile, the reserved bidder in the sale process.

9mobile, formerly Etisalat, almost shut down last year when it failed to pay back a loan taken from a consortium of banks a few years ago.

Earlier, while with the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele during the visit, Prof Danbatta said the financial system was dependent on telecommunications to function effectively, and remain connected.

“One could imagine how backward and ineffective the financial system could have been without leveraging on a strong and ubiquitous ICT infrastructure. Therein lies the mutually beneficial relationship between the two sectors’’, the NCC boss said.

Meanwhile, the CBN and the NCC have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Financial Inclusion in the country.

Speaking after signing the MoU, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the agreement with NCC would drive the payment system in Nigeria and reduce cash transactions while also enhancing cashless operations.

“I am very delighted because today with this signing, we are now very sure and certain that we will very easily improve the level of financial inclusion from the level it is today which is about 48 percent.

“We have set a target for ourselves that by 2020 which is in three years or below that, the level of financial inclusion should increase to 80 per cent. I can assure everybody that this signing provides the framework for licensing of payment service provider and is a framework that will also guide the working of those who are stakeholders both in the banking industry as well as the telecommunication industry not just mobile payment but the payment system in Nigeria’’, he said.