Virgin Mobile and Vodacom, as well as Bua Group, are among companies interested in acquiring 9mobile, formerly Etisalat Nigeria, according to ThisDay.
UAE’s Etisalat terminated its management agreement with its Nigerian unit in June and gave up its 45 percent stake to a trustee. This was after Etisalat Nigeria was unable to come up with a deal with its lenders to restructure its $1.2 billion debt after it missed payments.
Last week 9mobile said it is open to new investors as it officially announced the company’s new name.
Bua Group, a local diversified business with a stake in a wide range of sectors, Virgin and Vodacom now want to submit their memoranda of interest and technical presentations to a consortium of banks, which has appointed advisers to evaluate bids.
Virgin Mobile’s bid is reportedly backed by several former MTN Nigeria executives as the operator is willing to absorb the balance of the $1.2 billion debt, owed to 13 financial institutions. This is also likely because of MTN and Vodacom’s rivarly over the years.
Virgin’s plans include a network development strategy in which every cell site will be upgraded to 3G or 4G. Currently, most sites in the country are 2G.
According to GSMA Intelligence, 9mobile has around a 13 per cent share of Nigeria’s mobile market, behind MTN, Glo Mobile and Airtel.