A new investor may soon take over 9mobile which last week dropped Etisalat Nigeria as its brand name.
According to sources, there are strong moves by some investors like Vodacom of South Africa, BUA Group, Virgin Mobile from the United Kingdom and Bharti Airtel to buy the telecoms provider.
Besides the listed companies expressing interest in buying 9mobile, a few others have also being attracted to take over the company which still enjoys large patronage and loyalty despite its crisis.
However, the primary concern of 9mobile in the course of any negotiations with investors is to offset its $1.2 billion bank loan.
According to sources, BUA, Virgin and Vodacom are set to submit their memoranda of interest and technical presentations.
The banks have appointed advisers, which include Standard Bank of South Africa and Citibank of New York, to receive and evaluate bids.
Every bid is expected to be reviewed before they are tendered to the board of new directors.
Despite the new brand identity 9mobile recently unveiled, Boye Olusanya, Chief Executive Officer of the telecoms service provider, said the new management was prepared to manage the business for a long haul.
While promising that the new management was prepared to manage the business for a long haul, Olusanya also remarked that the company is ready to be taken over by any investor with attractive offer.
“We are here today with a brand that exists for Nigerians. If at any point in time, someone comes in with an offer that is attractive, the investors would have the right to do whatever they want to do with the brand.
“Though the company’s name and brand changed, the values on which it operated remained the same. In our nine years of operations, we have remained at the forefront of innovation and take pride in consistently delivering superior experiences to our subscribers.
“We continue to establish meaningful partnerships with our customers and partners by providing platforms that support their goals and aspirations”.
Assuring subscribers of the company’s mission statement, 9mobile CEO said: “With the launch of our new brand, our commitment to providing our subscribers with best-in-class telecommunications services continues. We live in a digitalised world and 9mobile is positioned to deliver more platforms, products and services using the power of technology. The name change does not change what we stand for. This is business as usual for us.”
He said all materials of the telecom company would bear the new brand identity, but this would be replace on a gradual basis, saying the departure of any partner of the company absolutely had no bearing on quality of service subscribers would get as the staff had not changed.
On July 10, 2017, Etisalat with over 21 million subscribers was given three weeks to phase out its brand in Nigeria, after its Abu Dhabi arm recently pulled out and new board members were appointed to run the affairs the company following failed negotiations with its lenders over a missed payment of $1.2 billion loan taken out from a consortium of 13 Nigerian banks in 2013 for network upgrade and expansion.
The money was sourced in dollar and naira denominations. But the naira devaluation occasioned by the economic recession that set in about two years ago, significantly affected the repayment of the dollar-denominated component of the loan.
The banks involved in the loan deal are Zenith Bank, GTBank, FirstBank, UBA, Fidelity Bank, Access Bank, Ecobank, FCMB, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Union Bank.
Zenith Bank has the highest exposure to Etisalat amounting to $262 million and N80 billion; GTBank has the second highest exposure of $138 million and N42 billion; Access Bank follows with $131 million and N40 billion.
Other are UBA, $125 million and N38 billion; FirstBank – $79 million and N24 billion; Fidelity Bank – $56 million and N17 billion; Stanbic IBTC – $25 million and N7.5 billion; FCMB – $15 million and N4.5 billion; and Ecobank – $10 million and N3.1 billion.
But Etisalat Nigeria had countered this information, stating that it had paid $500 million up till February 2017.
It said the outstanding loan to the lenders stands at $227 million and N113 billion, a total of about $574 million if the naira portion is converted to US dollars.