Barclays Africa has pulled out from its role as financial advisers for the sale of 9mobile. The bank is however yet to issue an official statement confirming the action.
Recall that some consortium of creditor banks to the telecommunications firm had in October appointed Barclay Bank to midwife the sale process.
According to a query letter issued by the NCC and the CBN, Umar Danbatta, the executive vice-chairman of NCC, and Godwin Emefiele complained that:
“They (Barclays) have repeatedly exhibited signs of opacity in the sale process for 9mobile. Given the overriding public interest in the company and the need for transparency, we advised that Barclays advertise the call for ‘expression of interest’. Barclays declined, insisting instead that the company is a private one, should not be taken through a public sale,” the query said.
“This lack of a transparent process has proven to be selective and arbitrary, leading to allegations that the process is being teleguided to a rigged and predetermined outcome. The CBN and the NCC will not fold their arms and allow this to materialize.”
The pull out of Barclays will further dent the future prospect of 9mobile as the company has not paid its creditors. Several banks involved in the USD1.2 billion debt have piled up impairments in their books waiting to get their monies back as soon as the company gets a buyer.
Barclays pulling out means the entire process will have to be repeated from scratch. The telecommunications firm may thus have to remain under the supervision of the regulators.
Etisalat Nigeria had in 2013 obtained a $1.2 billion loan from a consortium of banks led by GT Bank, for network expansion purposes. The company, however, defaulted on the loan due to a devaluation of the Naira. The banks then attempted to take over the firm but were stopped by the NCC and CBN. The crisis also led to the pull out of Etisalat UAE from the venture and a subsequent name change to 9mobile.