Smile Telecoms is ready to step in and acquire troubled Nigerian rival 9mobile in the event preferred bidder Teleology Holdings misses an initial payment deadline at the end of this week.
Investment company Teleology is due to pay a non-refundable depost of $50 million by 16 March. If it fails to do so, reserve bidder Smile Telecoms is eager to jump in amid a belief it is right company to turn 9mobile’s business around, Nigeria Communications Week reported.
Ahmad Farroukh, executive director of operations at Smile Telecoms, told the newspaper the company’s Nigerian operation, Smile Communications, would seek permission from the country’s regulator to hand over its 800MHz spectrum holdings to 9mobile to ensure the operator has the “best frequency” available.
“We will from day one, integrate our existing facilities with that of 9mobile to get the company back to its old good days, when it was the best voice and data telecoms company in Nigeria,” he added.
Teleology won the race to acquire 9mobile with a $500 million bid, while Smile Telecoms offered $300 million.
When asked what Smile Telecoms would do about a $1.2 billion loan 9mobile defaulted on, Farroukh said it would split the debt and seek fresh repayment deals with banks and vendors.
Last week Smile voiced concerns about how Barclays Africa handed the deal and sought a review of the bidding process.
In January it was reported Teleology had won the auction, but Smile highlighted a discrepancy in the timing of the announcement, which came before a 26 February deadline.
A two-page letter signed by Templars, the company’s solicitors, stated Barclays Africa must provide a “practicable with verifiable (and preferably third-party authenticated) proof” Teleology had satisfied all required conditions, to ensure transparancy in the sale.