Everest Amaefule and Ife Ogunfuwa
The Board of Commissioners of the Nigerian Communications Commission has met on the ongoing process to sell 9mobile formerly known as Etisalat to new investors.
The details of the meeting were sketchy as of the time of going to press but the Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, confirmed the meeting in a statement made available in Abuja on Friday.
Ojobo said the board of the regulatory agency gave assurance that it would do everything possible to ensure that a credible investor with the requisite technical capability and pedigree takes over at 9mobile.
He stated, “Rising from its board meeting held in Abuja, the board affirmed its determination to avoid the recurrence of any missteps that may have led to the current situation.
“The board also made it clear that pursuant to the powers conferred on the commission by the provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 and other instruments in that regard, the commission will ensure that all relevant statutory and regulatory processes are duly complied with in the process leading up to the emergence of new owners for the company.
“The board therefore assured all stakeholders that the commission will apply all necessary diligence to see the ongoing sale process through to its logical conclusion in a manner that protects the overall national interest and the seamless operation of the national telecommunications network.”
Abu-Dhabi-based Emerging Market Telecommunications Services had vacated its position as core investor in Etisalat following the bid by a consortium of banks to take over the operations of the firm as a result of a loan deal that could not be properly serviced.
This led to an intervention by the financial services regulator, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the telecommunications services regulator, the NCC, to stop the takeover bid and to set up an interim board for the company pending the emergence of a new core investor.
The powers of the regulatory agencies have, however, been challenged in a case instituted in a court by a creditor of the telecommunications company.
Bloomberg had reported that the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the commission ran financial checks on MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria and Globacom Limited and had identified some areas of concerns that needed to be addressed.
The CBN will also conduct a financial check on the winner of the 9mobile auction and the NCC will be focused on the buyer’s ability to provide a quality service, Danbatta said.
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