Smile Telecoms has stated that it is still keen to acquire Nigeria’s 9mobile if Teleology Holdings fails to meet the deadline for its initial payment at the end of this week.
Having won the bidding to acquire the troubled 9mobile with a $500 million bid, investment firm Teleology now has until tomorrow to pay a non-refundable deposit of $50 million for the unit. If it does not, reserve bidder Smile Telecoms, which bid $300 million, could take over the acquisition.
Smile Telecoms’ executive director of operations Ahmad Farroukh has stated that Smile Communications (the group’s Nigerian unit) would try to obtain regulatory permission to transfer its 800MHz spectrum to 9mobile so that it could use the “best frequency” possible.
“We will from day one, integrate our existing facilities with that of 9mobile to get the company back to its old good days, when it was the best voice and data telecoms company in Nigeria,” said Farroukh. He added that Smile Telecoms would deal with 9mobile’s $1.2B defaulted loan by splitting the debt and forging new repayment plans with banks and vendors.
Smile has been an outspoken critic of the 9mobile auction process; in January when it was announced that Teleology had won the auction, Smile highlighted the disparity between the date of the announcement and the 26th February deadline. The group’s lawyers have requested “practicable with verifiable (and preferably third-party authenticated) proof” that Teleology had met all the criteria required for the bidding.
More recently Smile has voiced criticism of Barclays Africa’s handling of the deal, arguing that the bidding process should be reviewed.