The current owners of Nigeria's 9mobile have been granted more time to find a buyer for the operator by the country’s regulator.
Emerging Markets Telecoms Services now has until 16th January to find a buyer, after the original deadline of 31st December 2017 lapsed. The move by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) gives the shortlist of buyers slightly more time to ready their binding offers – despite the fact that bot the regulator and the Central Bank of Nigeria had described the previous deadline as “sacrosanct”.
Interested parties include rival Nigerian operators Bharti Airtel, Globacom and Smile, as well as a number of investment firms. 9mobile is the country’s fourth largest operator, and had around 17 million connections at the end of Q3 2017.
9mobile was previously branded as Etisalat Nigeria, but lost the support of the Middle Eastern group after defaulting on payments for a $1.2 billion loan in mid-2017. These actions also cost the operator the backing of a major investment fund, but it was rescued from bankruptcy by regulators.