The preferred bidder for 9mobile Limited is Teleology Holdings Limited (THL), has paid the $50 million nonrefundable deposit for its acquisition of the firm.
It has 90 days to pay the $450 million balance to seal the deal.
9mobile will be handed over to Teleology after the payment of the balance, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Executive Vice Chairman Prof. Garba Umar Danbatta said yesterday.
He spoke after the NCC and the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Financial Inclusion at the CBN Headquarters, Abuja.
Danbatta said if Teleology failed to make the complete payment within 90 days, Smile Communications Limited (SCL), the reserved bidder, might take its place.
Globacom, Airtel, Smile Communications, Helios, and Teleology emerged as bidders for 9mobile out of 16 firms, which filed bids with Barclays of Africa, 9mobile’s financial adviser.
They include MTN, ntel, Virgin Mobile from the United Kingdom and Vodacom of South Africa, BUA Group, Morning Side Capital Partners, Obot Etiebet & Co, Blackstone Private Equity, and Hamilton and George International Limited.
Airtel pulled out; Glo failed to attach financial commitment to its bid.
Danbatta said: “The MoU we have signed is for mobile money service and financial inclusion; this followed useful work done by a committee made up of representatives from NCC and CBN which culminated in the signing of the MoU and on the basis of the MoU, we have signed, the two organisations have indicated commitment towards driving financial inclusion in the country as well as ensuring improvement in the money mobile service communication.”
Danbatta, who led his management team to the CBN Headquarters, said NCC was targeting 30 percent broadband penetration by the end of the year, adding that the commission has so far made 70 percent progress on the target.
He told CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele that the telecom industry has been recording steady growth since 2001, noting that in the past four years its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stands at 10 percent.
Danbatta said: “But the figures may not tell the entire story. Investments in the sector in human and material resources have continued on the rise. In 2001, the telecom sector could boast of mere $50 million worth of investment, but as at September 2017, we have investments worth $70 billion.
“The Value Added Services (VAS) segment of the telecom market in Nigeria today is worth $200 million and is estimated to grow to $500 million by 2021.
“In subscription numbers, the less than 500,000 lines in 2001, have grown to more than 147 million recorded as at January 2018. Teledensity, weighted in the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) formula of one line to 100 of the population, stands at 105.21 percent, while internet penetration has hit the 100 million mark as at January 2018.”
Welcoming the NCC team, the Emefiele described the signing of the MoU as a landmark event that would boost financial inclusion and transactions in the country.
Emefiele said: “ Our teams have worked for several months trying to put things together with the intention of seeing to how NCC and CBN can work together towards driving the payment system in Nigeria, reducing cash transaction and enhancing cashless operations in the country and it will also help to facilitate financial inclusion and also drive a more robust payment system in the country
“I am very delighted because today with this signing, we are now very sure and certain that we will very easily improve the level of financial inclusion from the level it is today which is about 48 percent and we set a target for ourselves that by 2020 which is in three years or below that the level of financial inclusion should increase to 80 percent.
“And I can assure everybody with this signing it provides a framework for licensing of payment service provider and is a framework that will also guide the working of those who are stakeholders both in the banking industry as well as the telecoms industry, not a just mobile payment but the payment system in Nigeria.
“I am delighted that we are witnessing this today and we look forward to many more years of close collaboration. Between the CBN and banking system on one hand and the NCC, telecoms industry on another hand.”