November 12, 2018 / 6:32 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 2-Nigerian telecoms regulator approves Teleology takeover of 9-mobile

(Adds latest subscriber data, background)

By Chijioke Ohuocha

ABUJA, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Nigeria’s telecoms regulator has cleared Teleology’s takeover of 9mobile, the country’s fourth biggest operator, ending a long bidding process for the debt-laden company that started a year ago, Teleology said on Monday.

Investment holding company Teleology, which was set up by 12 telecoms industry veterans led by ex-MTN Nigeria executive Adrian Wood, said it had appointed new directors to run 9mobile, following approval from Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Teleology was picked as preferred bidder for 9mobile in February, following a bid process arranged by Barclays Africa, after a debt default forced 9mobile’s lenders to step in.

But the sale has taken longer than initially expected with the NCC’s review of Teleology’s financial and technical capacity before signing off the takeover, sources have said.

“The composition of the new board of directors is another significant milestone, and this follows the issuance of final approval ... by NCC,” Teleology said in a statement.

9mobile, formerly called Etisalat Nigeria, was taken over by its lenders last year for failing to keep up with its debt repayments after Etisalat took a loan of $1.2 billion from a consortium of banks in 2013.

Teleology said NCC’s approval marked the end of the acquisition process, adding that its incoming chairman, Nasiru Ado Bayero, would take over from Joseph Nnanna, who was appointed after a central bank intervention stopped lenders from placing the telecoms firm into receivership.

9mobile has been losing subscribers. In September, it had 15.36 million users, a 9 percent market share, which was down from 20 million subscribers, or a 14 percent share, earlier in 2017, NCC data showed. (Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha Editing by David Goodman and David Evans)

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