Contrary to the story making rounds that consent has been given to Teleology Holdings as the preferred bidder for 9Mobile by the interim board of the company, all eyes are now on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and telecom industry regulator Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to authenticate or disavow the said sale. This is more so as there are conflicting signals as to the correct amount offered for the sale.
Earlier reports had indicated that the preferred bidder Teleology Holdings offered $500 million while the reserved bidder Smile Telecom Holdings offered $300 million. However, a very reliable source close to the transaction affirmed that the sums being bandied about are incorrect and could at best be self-serving aimed at furthering the quest of one of the finalists.
The source reaffirmed the impartiality of both the CBN and NCC and their unwavering commitment to global best practices and the common good. Frowning at what it termed an uncouth campaign for advantage, the source enjoined the two finalists in the race to acquire 9Mobile to await the CBN and NCC’s imprimatur on the sale. Commenting on the reported emergence of a preferred bidder for 9Mobile, some industry experts and seasoned investors are of the view that the winner should not be selected solely on the financial bid. Instead, they counsel that managerial acumen, industry track record and technology adroitness should be uppermost on the consideration table. Their admonitions invite urgent re-appraisal of the last two companies standing out of the sixteen companies that started the race for the acquisition of 9Mobile. A look at the two finalists show that Smile Telecoms Holdings and Teleology Holdings Limited parade former chief executive officers of MTN Nigeria as their talismen for the bid. Teleology Holdings Limited is led by Adrian Wood while Smile Telecoms Holdings has as one of its leaders Ahmad Farroukh. Adrian Wood was the second Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria but his tenure was short-lived. He served for almost two years only. Thereafter, he was named group managing director of Daily Times of Nigeria and like his stint at MTN he left abruptly and in circumstances that were said to be unsavory. He is currently the CEO of Brymedia West Africa Limited. On the other hand, Ahmad Farroukh, group executive director in charge of Operations at Smile Telecoms Holdings, had the arduous task of bringing MTN Nigeria to what is it is today. Between July 2006 and April 2011 he increased MTN subscriber base to 40 million and achieved 62 per cent healthy margin. He had the distinction of managing 17 operations of the MTN Group after he left Nigeria.