February 23, 2018 / 3:40 PM / 2 years ago

Next owner of Nigeria's 9mobile must know the sector, regulator says

ABUJA, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Nigeria’s telecom regulator wants to ensure that the telecoms firm 9mobile, born out of the defunct Etisalat Nigeria, is bought by investors with the know-how to run a company in that sector, it said on Friday.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is looking into the financial health of telecoms firms after Etisalat Nigeria defaulted on loan repayments and was only saved from receivership last year when the central bank stepped in.

Etisalat Nigeria had taken out a $1.2 billion syndicated loan from a group of 13 local banks in 2013 but failed to make repayments last year.

Under the stewardship of its lenders, it has changed its board and management, and its name, and is now up for sale.

Barclays Africa has been mandated to look for new investors and is now examining bids from prospective buyers. However, a deal may take a few months as it will involve restructuring 9mobile’s debt.

“The Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reassured Stakeholders of its commitment to ensure that the nation’s fourth largest Mobile Network Operator, EMTS/9Mobile, is duly taken over by investors with the requisite technical capability and pedigree to manage the organisation,” the board said in a statement.

Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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