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Sixteen firms have launched a bid to acquire 9mobile, Nigeria’s fourth largest network operator, according to ThisDay.

In July, Etisalat Group disclosed on the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange that it had pulled out of 9mobile, formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria.

The telco had defaulted on a loan repayment scheme of $1.2 billion due a consortium of 13 local banks, citing economic downturn and the resulting naira devaluation as the reason for their inability to repay.

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Companies that have tendered expressions of interest (EoIs) to Barclays include five telcos – MTN, Airtel, Ntel, Virgin Mobile from the United Kingdom and Vodacom of South Africa.

Others are BUA Group, Morning Side Capital Partners, Obot Etiebet & Co, Blackstone Private Equity, and Hamilton and George International Limited.

The newspaper said the 16 companies have met the deadline for the submission of EoIs at Barclays’ office in Ikoyi, Lagos.

Preparations are in order, for the companies’ use of the “data room” where due diligence will be conducted on 9mobile before the bid submission stage.

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