The reserve bidder in the sale of troubled Nigerian operator 9mobile, Smile Telecoms Holdings, voiced concerns about how Barclays Africa is handling the deal and sought a review of the bidding process.
In January it was reported the auction had been won by investment company Teleology Holdings, which made an offer of around $500 million. However, 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.
Barclays Africa pledged to contact Smile “to discuss any updates on the transaction, to the extent considered necessary.”
A source told Nigerian daily Vanguard Barclays made the announcement of the winner in error, because it held a meeting with Teleology and Smile on 26 January and told them they had a month to raise their bids.
The source added the winner will need to sign a Sales Purchase Agreement immediately and pay a non-refundable deposit of $50 million.
9mobile was put up for sale after it defaulted on repayments on a $1.2 billion loan provided by a consortium of banks.
In January, media reports stated Barclays Africa picked the highest bidder after four companies were shortlisted and Smile, with an offer of $300 million, was the reserve bidder.
Smile is not the first to be concerned about the process. Airtel Nigeria, the fifth suitor shortlisted, dropped out of the running, because “too many things are hidden about the health of 9mobile”.