Now, according to ThisDay, Barclays, the financial adviser for any investment, has pre-qualified 10 of the 16 companies that expressed an interest in taking control of 9Mobile.
According to ThisDay's sources, those 10 are:
Globacom Nigeria – already the number two mobile operator in Nigeria
Bharti Airtel – already the number three mobile player, operating as Airtel Nigeria
Alheri Engineering Ltd. – the telecoms business unit of the Dangote Group
Smile Telecoms Holdings – a telecoms firm with operations in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda
Helios Investment Partners – private investment firm that previously owned Helios Towers Nigeria, a mobile network infrastructure company that was sold in 2016
Centricus Capital in partnership with Africell – Africell has operations in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gambia, Sierra Leone and Uganda
Abraaj Capital -- a Dubai-based private equity firm
Teleology Holdings Ltd. -- a business led by a former CEO of MTN Nigeria, Adian Wood, who is working on the bid with Ericsson
Africa Capital Alliance (ACA) – a Lagos-based investment firm
The Carlyle Group -- a global private equity player with extensive experience in the communications services sector
The highest bidder will get the chance to control Nigeria's fourth largest mobile operator, but the sooner a new owner with a new strategy is announced the better, as 9Mobile is losing subscribers and market share: It has lost more than 3 million customers this year and its market share is now below 12%, according to the Ovum World Cellular Information Service (WCIS).
There seems little doubt that if any of the country's existing mobile operators win the bidding process there will be a legal appeal and some sort of regulatory intervention that would then hold up the process.
Nigeria's current mobile leader is MTN Nigeria, which commands a market share of about 37%, followed by Globacom with about 26% and Airtel Nigeria, with almost 25%. If either Globacom or Airtel are successful, they would be able to challenge MTN for market leadership.
— Ray Le Maistre, International Group Editor, Light Reading for Connecting Africa.
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