By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-Tech Editor, & Tare Youdeowei
It appears the preferred bidder in the 9Mobile sale process, Teleology, will have another huddle to cross after completing payment of the telecommunications company in 90 days.
This is as the regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, yesterday insisted that payment of the $500 million was not a guarantee to get the 9Mobile operating licence, but proof of adequate technical capacity to continue operating the fourth mobile telco in the manner users would not feel short-changed.
Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta, while briefing newsmen in Lagos yesterday, said the bid winner can only count itself authentic owners of 9Mobile, after NCC has conducted thorough technical evaluation and ascertain that it has the capacity to operate the licence.
Although Danbatta did not want to pre-empt what would happen to the money paid by Teleology, in the event that it was considered technically unfit to operate 9Mobile, he however, insisted that the technical evaluation function of NCC on the bid process must be carried out.
According to Danbatta, “there are two components of 9Mobile sale— the financial evaluation and technical evaluation.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN is driving the financial evaluation while we are responsible for the technical evaluation.
“After the first evaluation, a preferred bidder has emerged and I must say before the preferred bidder emerged, it involved NCC representatives.
“After the CBN is done with its work of establishing the preferred bidder, the NCC will then come in to ascertain the technical capacity of the preferred bidder.
“The licence, operations and spectrum in possessions of 9Mobile can only be transferred to the preferred bidder with reports of NCC board on satisfaction that the preferred bidder has the technical capacity.
“That process has not taken place and NCC insists on doing the technical evaluation on whoever emerges the preferred bidder.”
Teleology beat the March 22 deadline to pay the initial $50 million bid money for the acquisition of 9Mobile, promising to finalise payment in 90 days.
The payment gave rise to the signing of the Share Purchase Agreement, SPA, and other contractual documents pertaining to the acquisition.
Teleology says the payment underscores its financial capability and readiness to revive the organisation.
The new owners have already unveiled ambitious action plans to overhaul the network and all other aspects of the telco’s operations.
The plan include ringing Nigeria with 4G broadband access, beginning with the 774 local governments.
The company is also reinforcing 9Mobile workforce with at least 50 percent addition to ensure the overhaul plans are not undermined by shortage of manpower.
Teleology’s Managing Director, Mr. Adrian Wood, immediately after the payment, said “9Mobile is transiting into a new phase that will be defined by optimal value delivery to employees, customers and to local communities.”