The reserved bidder for 9Mobile, Smile Telecoms, a subsidiary of Smile Telecoms Holdings, has expressed its readiness to reposition 9Mobile within 90 days if it was allowed to acquire the troubled firm.
Executive Director, Operations, Smile Communications, Ahmad Farroukh, said in Lagos at the weekend, that 9Mobile deserved the best and should be sold to an existing telecoms company with the right technical expertise and financial strength to turn it around for the highly competitive market within a few months.
Barclays Africa, financial advisors to 9Mobile had last month written to Teleology Holdings, one of the bidders, as the preferred bidder for the telecommunications firm, after what it described as rigorous process.
In the letter announcing Teleology Holdings as the preferred bidder, it was asked to make a non-refundable cash deposit of $50 million within 21 days from the date of the letter, dated February 21, 2018, or lose the bid to Smile Holdings Limited.
But Smile Communications had since faulted the selection of Teleology Holdings as the preferred bidder on the grounds that Barclays Africa did not do a thorough job of the processes.
It, therefore, called for a review of the process. Smile’s grouse was contained in a letter addressed to Barclays Africa dated February 21, 2018 and signed by Templars, its solicitors.
In the two-page letter, Smile, which emerged the reserve bidder, expressed surprise and disappointment at the manner in which the selection process for the Preferred Bidder and Reserve Bidder was conducted.
However, the source disclosed that in its reply of February 26, 2018, Barclays Africa promised to “be in touch with Smile to discuss any updates on the transaction, to the extent considered necessary.”
According to Farroukh, Smile would bring three-dimensional values to 9Mobile once it was allowed to acquire it.
“The first value is that we are Nigerian company already existing in the Nigerian telecoms space. So we will come up with our existing assets to boost the 9mobile operations. We will seek the permission of NCC to flip our existing 800MHz frequency to 9mobile to enhance its operations. What we are bringing to 9mobile is huge.
“The 800MHz frequency, which Smile Communications currently operates on, will be added to that of 9mobile to achieve the best frequency ever that will serve the customers better and help 9mobile to come out of its current challenges. Without exaggerating, we are sure to add additional 600 Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, into the operations of 9mobile within a space of 90 days, if given the opportunity to acquire it.
“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. 9mobile currently has 500 BTS across the country, and by the time we add our 400 existing BTS and combine it with the 600 BTS that we can provide within 90 days, 9mobile will be having approximately 1,500 BTS, which will match the number of BTS that the largest telecoms operator in the country currently has. So should we acquire 9mobile, we will make it competitive from day one with unprecedented speed of service delivery.”
“The second value that we will bring to 9mobile is the monetary value. We will bring in fresh millions of dollars from foreign financing outside Nigeria, into 9mobile to pay off its indebtedness to the banks and also pay off any other group that the company is indebted to, and we will still have enough to invest in 9mobile and make it competitive,” he said.
The third dimensional value that we will bring to 9mobile, is about the firm’s long standing experience in telecoms business.
“I have handled telecoms business in Nigeria, including being the CEO of MTN Nigeria from 2006 to 2011, before I was appointed as Director to oversee the MTN West African operations, before joining Smile Communications. Nigeria has made me what I am today and I am grateful to God and to Nigeria. In Smile Communications and Smile Telecoms Holdings, we have seasoned telecoms experts and we are bringing that expertise to 9mobile if given the opportunity to acquire it. We are convinced that our three dimensional values will make 9mobile a successful company if we are allowed to manage it,” Farroukh said.