The deadline for the submission of bids for Nigerian wireless operator 9mobile, which was known as Etisalat Nigeria until July 2017, has been extended to 16 January 2018, according to a report by TheCable. Prospective bidders were originally given until 31 December to submit binding offers for the cellco, but this deadline has now been pushed back following approval from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). Five companies have reportedly been shortlisted to participate in the bidding process, namely: Bharti Airtel, the Indian parent of third-placed Airtel Nigeria; pan-African LTE operator Smile Telecoms Holdings; Nigeria’s second largest cellco Globacom; investment firm Helios Investment Partners; and Teleology Holdings Limited.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, 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 last 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.