Ten of the 16 firms that submitted expressions of interest (EoIs) for acquiring Nigerian wireless operator 9mobile, which was known as Etisalat Nigeria until July this year, have advanced to the next stage. Local newspaper This Day cites sources as saying that financial advisor Barclays has allegedly prequalified ten companies to proceed to the financial bid stage of the process, namely: second largest cellco Globacom; Bharti Airtel, the Indian parent of third-placed Airtel Nigeria; Dangote Group’s telecoms business unit, Alheri Engineering; pan-African LTE operator Smile Telecoms Holdings; infrastructure company Helios Towers; Centricus Capital with Africell, a subsidiary of Lebanon-based Lintel Group; Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj Capital; Teleology Holdings Limited; pan-African investment firm Africa Capital Alliance (ACA); and The Carlyle Group from the US. According to the report, the companies will be required to submit bid bonds of USD150 million each as part of the financial bid process.
As reported by CommsUpdate last month, the lenders of 9mobile have hired Barclays to find new investors for the country’s fourth largest cellco by subscribers. Then known as Etisalat Nigeria, the firm defaulted on a USD1.2 billion loan with a consortium of 13 local banks earlier this year. Etisalat Group of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) handed over its 45% stake to the security trustee of the firm’s lenders and terminated its existing management and technical support agreements with the cellco. Lenders have delayed taking provisions on the debt and agreed to extend the loan pending the sale to new investors.