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NCC finalises 9mobile takeover

Indications have emerged that the Nigerian Communications Commission is in the final stages of reviewing the deal that will see investment firm, Teleology Holdings, take over 9mobile.

Teleology was picked as the preferred bidder for 9mobile in February, following a bid process arranged by Barclays Africa after a debt default forced the telecom firm’s lenders to step in.

According to Reuters, the deal is expected to close in about a week, as revealed by two sources with knowledge of the transaction, which has taken longer than initially expected.

One of the sources said the NCC was in the final stages of reviewing the deal before signing off Teleology’s takeover, adding that $301m in financing for the deal was in escrow with Afrexim bank.

“The NCC is doing its own regulatory due diligence before making a formal announcement on the transfer of licence,” one of the sources involved in the deal stated.

The source said the documentation with the NCC was not complete and the banks were preparing the final papers, which should close in another week.

The NCC has to approve a transfer of 9mobile’s telecoms licence to Teleology.

Earlier, 9mobile, formerly called Etisalat Nigeria, said its board expected the takeover to be completed “as soon as possible” but that more time was needed to ensure a smooth transition, without giving further details.

The telecoms firm had been in meetings with its lenders, regulators and the new investor for the last few days.

The prospective buyer was given 90 days to pay the balance of $450m to complete the acquisition after paying a non-refundable deposit of $50m in March.

Another source said Teleology, which was set up by 12 telecoms industry veterans led by ex-MTN Nigeria executive, Adrian Wood, was waiting for 9mobile’s lenders to obtain clearance from the NCC and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“The board of 9mobile is pleased with the progress made thus far,” its Chief Executive Officer, Boye Olusanya was quoted to have said.

Teleology has partnered East Africa’s largest telecoms operator, Safaricom, to transform 9mobile. However, the takeover comes at a time of increased competition as Nigeria’s biggest operator, MTN, expands its service through partnerships with banks.