The winning bid for Nigeria's 9Mobile is now set to be announced on January 16, with five companies in the running to become the mobile operator's new owner.
The conclusion of the sale process, which is being managed by Barclays Africa, was due on December 31, but was delayed by the Nigerian Communications Commission and the Central Bank of Nigeria following a request by 9Mobile's board, according to The Cable.
The sales process has been underway for several months following the decision by Etisalat to abandon the Nigerian market, after which the operator changed its name from Etisalat Nigeria to 9Mobile and potential new investors formed a lengthy queue. (See Etisalat Nigeria to Become 9Mobile and Bidders Line Up for Nigeria's 9Mobile: Reports.)
Now that list of interested parties has been whittled down to five (in alphabetical order):
Bharti Airtel -- already the number three mobile player, operating as Airtel Nigeria
Helios Investment Partners -- private investment firm that previously owned Helios Towers Nigeria, a mobile network infrastructure company that was sold in 2016
Globacom Nigeria -- already the number two mobile operator in Nigeria
Smile Telecoms Holdings -- a telecom firm with operations in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda
Teleology Holdings Ltd. -- a business led by a former CEO of MTN Nigeria, Adrian Wood, who is working on the bid with Ericsson
With a market share of about 12%, 9Mobile is the number four player in Nigeria's mobile market, which boasts about 155 million users and generates annual aggregate revenues of about US$7 billion. Should either Airtel or Globacom win the bidding process they would be able to challenge MTN Nigeria, which commands a market share of about 37%, as the country's leading mobile service provider.
— Ray Le Maistre, International Group Editor, Light Reading, for Connecting Africa