Airtel pulls out of 9mobile running as 2 bid for Nigerian telco

Only two of the five companies shortlisted to take over 9mobile have bid for the former Etisalat Nigeria, according to reports.

TheCable claims Airtel Nigeria opted not to submit a final bid for the troubled telco, while Globacom and Helios Investment partners made bid but did not make any financial offers for 9mobile.

That leaves Smile Telecom and Teleology Holdings Limited as the only bidders, submitting offers of $300 million and $500 million respectively by the 16 January deadline, the report claims.

Citing unnamed sources, TheCable claims Airtel’s U-turn came because acquiring the operator would be too risky as “too many things are hidden about the health of 9mobile”. This includes a legal battle which has seen a Lagos court order 9mobile’s parent Emerging Markets Telecommunications Service (EMTS) to be broken up.

9mobile operated as Etisalat Nigeria until July when the Emirates telco pulled out of the country, leading it to rebrand. The company is up for sale after it default on repayments for a $1.2 billion loan.

Had Airtel invested in the unit, it would have jumped from its position as the number three operator in Nigeria to number two, leapfrogging Globacom in terms of market share.

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