9mobile, the mobile operator formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria, has appointed Citigroup and Standard Bank to find an investor to buy into the firm, with three companies already showing interest, a banking source close to the deal said on Tuesday.
India’s Bharti Airtel, which already has a presence in Nigeria, as well as Britain’s Vodafone and French telecom company, Orange, have shown interest, a banking source close to the development told Reuters.
“These are still early interest signals but they are looking at the company as an attractive entry strategy,” the source said.
The Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said earlier on Tuesday that advisers had been appointed to manage the sale of 9mobile, which is the fourth-largest mobile operator in the sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest economy and most populous nation.
The central bank and the Nigerian Communications Commission intervened this month to save the company from collapse and prevent creditors from putting it into receivership, leading to a change in its board and management, as well as the new name 9mobile.
9mobile declined to comment, while Citigroup, Standard Bank, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Orange and were not immediately available to comment.
Emefiele said 9mobile’s revenue was stable and it made N16bn in June and had not lost subscribers due to its debt crisis.
He said the advisers would organise a tender to request proposals from prospective investors. He did not provide a timeline but said the management of the telecoms company by its interim board should not last more than 90 to 180 days.
Meanwhile, 9mobile, has called on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to intervene in the telecommunications sector in order to save operators from the burden of double taxation.
The Managing Director, 9mobile, Mr. Boye Olusanya, made the call when he led a team of management staff of the company on a courtesy call on the Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, according to a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Tuesday by the Assistant Chief Information Officer in the ministry, Mrs. Pauline Sule.
Apart from double taxation, Olusanya listed problems with foreign exchange, Right of Way and security of infrastructure as other issues that needed the intervention of the Federal Government in order to ensure smooth operation of the telecommunications networks.
Responding, Shittu said the Federal Government stepped in to intervene in the crisis faced by 9mobile (formerly Etisalat) in order to save the company’s employees as well as subscribers in the loop of the network.
Shittu congratulated the new management team of the company and tasked them to work hard to bring it back and get it out of debt.