Teleology appoints 9mobile board after NCC approves takeover

14 November 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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The Nigerian regulator has cleared the private-equity takeover of the former Etisalat Nigeria, renamed 9mobile, after many months of delay.

The new owner will be Teleology Holdings, a Nigerian investor led by Adrian Wood, a former Liquid Telecom, MTN and Telenor executive. Reports say Teleology is paying $251 million.

UAE-based Etisalat pulled out of Nigeria in July 2017 when the local company defaulted on repayments of a $1.2 billion loan. At one stage five companies were competing to buy the rebranded 9mobile, but all but two, including Teleology, dropped out by January.

It has taken until now for the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to approve completion of the deal because of concerns about the company’s debt.

Teleology has also been named in the Uganda press as likely to acquire the incumbent operator, Uganda Telecom. Reports say Teleology has bid $70.8 million for a 67% stake. It must pay $7 million by the end of November and the rest by January 2019 to complete that deal.

In Nigeria local reports say Teleology has appointed a new board of directors for 9mobile, including Nasiru Ado Bayero as chairman and former CTO Stephane Beuvelet as acting managing director.

Non-executive directors include Wood, who was the first CEO of MTN Nigeria.

Seven years ago Wood was leading a consortium called Brymedia West Africa that was bidding to take over Nigeria’s moribund fixed-line operator, then called Nitel. He told Nigeria media at the time that the consortium was willing to pay $900 million for the company, having already come third in an aborted privatisation process.

Wood is also a board member of London-based Plus44 Holdings, which offers mobile advertising technology under the name Sliide Airtime. Plus44 also has offices in Nigeria and the US.

According to his LinkedIn posting, Wood was acting COO of Liquid Telecom for the first half of 2017 and has been CEO of MTN Nigeria and – in the 1990s – of Telenor Central Europe.