Danbatta: $100m Debt Delaying 9mobile Takeover

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Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), says a $100 million debt is part of the things delaying the handing over of 9mobile to Teleology.

Speaking on the sidelines of the ITU Telecom World 2018 conference holding in Durban, South Africa, Danbatta said the debt is outside the $1.2 billion owed to 13 banks.

According to the EVC, the debt is owed to equipment suppliers and contractors like Huawei, IHS and Nokia.

He, however, explained that the payment of the outstanding sum is part of the agreement reached by the parties involved in the sale of 9mobile, before handing over 9mobile to Teleology.

“Barclays Africa, the financial adviser handling the sale of 9mobile announced Teleology Holdings Limited as the preferred bidder of 9mobile and Smile Telecoms Holding as the reserve bidder in the ongoing sale of 9mobile,” he told THISDAY.

“Now the spectrum licence of 9mobile belongs to Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services (EMTS), but trading as 9mobile. Teleology had since paid a non-refundable deposit of $50 million and the record is there to show for it and we have verified the payment. Teleology also paid $251 million into an escrow account of the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

Danbatta said NCC’s due diligence report on Teleology would be released after all debts owed by the telecom company have been paid.

“Based on these payments, the NCC needed to transmit a letter of no objection to Teleology for the transfer of the shares of Etisalat from EMTS to United Capital Trustees, which is the receiver manager for the 13 local banks that gave Etisalat, now 9mobile, the loan of $1.2 billion,” Danbatta said.

“The shares will then be transferred from United Capital Trustees to Teleology. It is a two-phase transfer of shares and NCC has transmitted the letters of no objection for the two-phase transfer of shares from EMTS to United State Capital Trustees, and then from United Capital Trustees to Teleology. But what has not been transferred is the spectrum licence to Teleology because there is a caveat around it. So the operational and spectrum licences of 9mobile are still with EMTS.

“Again Teleology is expected to make another tranche of payment of $100 million to service the debts of equipment suppliers and vendors like Huawei, IHS and Nokia, which 9mobile is owing.”

The ownership of 9mobile, Nigeria’s fourth-largest telecommunications company formerly known as Etisalat, had to change hands after the company defaulted on the repayment of a loan owed to a consortium of 13 banks.

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