Rivalry Plots Thicken as Former MTN Bosses Jostle to Buy 9Mobile

Business and interest groups, value Added Service providers, contents on data & voice techpreneurs, big stakeholders, mobile tech marketing and advertisers are all a divided tent under two camps in the Nigeria telecommunication industry.

This two rivalry camps came about as there are now hit up anticipations on who will eventually be the new owner of 9Mobile- the fourth largest telecommunication service provider in the country.

On Friday, they were syndicated press materials rooting for the two companies in the final stage of the bidding process- claiming to be the anointed & preferred bidder at the final stage.

This discerning trend emerged from the camps of Smile Telecoms Holdings and Teleology Holdings Limited, being the two companies competing at the final stage after many other have opted out.

On either side are former CEOs of MTN Nigeria leading the charge. While Smile Telecoms Holdings has Ahmad Farroukh has one of its leaders, Teleology Holdings Limited is being led by Adrian Wood.

Adrian Wood was the second Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria where he served not more than thetwo years. Thereafter he was named Group Managing Director of Daily Times of Nigeria. He is currently the CEO of Brymedia West Africa Limited.

One of the flying reports in the media on Friday claimed that Teleology Holdings Limited, promoted by Adrian Wood, the pioneer CEO of MTN Nigeria, was the preferred bidder for9mobile.

This, thus, suggested that Smile Telecoms Holdings, a telco operating in Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo DR and South Africa, was the reserve bidder.

There were back up reports that Teleology put in a bid of $500 million, while Smile Holdings could not bid higher than $300 million.

However, findings showed that both companies will be given 30 days to prove that they have the financial resources to take over the troubled telco.

Globacom, Nigeria’s second largest operator, and Helios Investment Partners LLP, an investment company, did not make any financial offer for 9mobile as gathered.

Airtel pulled out completely, complaining about “too many hidden things” in the health of the company.

If either Globacom or Airtel had taken over the company formerly known as Etisalat, they would have overtaken MTN as the biggest operator in Nigeria by number of subscribers.

Recall that Wood was the first CEO of MTN Nigeria and was credited with building a very good business model.

The Australian has remained in the Nigerian business environment since November 2004 when he left MTN.

Meanwhile, the second report which obviously rooted for Smile Holding Limited has a table chat which showed some technical parlance analysis on why the company has the best market value and management capacity with handsome financial muscle to be the preferred buy.

Succinct to note that Ahmad Farroukh who joined MTN as Chief Executive Officer after 18 months from Wood departure, is currently the Group Executive Director in charge of Operations at Smile Telecoms Holdings.

Given the preeminent role of Smile Nigeria towards the realisation of the Federal Government’s quest for enhanced broadband penetration, Ahmad spends most of his executive time in Nigeria and will be central to Smile’s quest to acquire 9Mobile.

Farroukh had the arduous task of bringing MTN Nigeria to what is it is today. His service record for the full tenure he served is stellar. Between July 2006 and April 2011 he increased MTN subscriber base to 40 million and achieved 62% healthy margin. He had the distinction of managing 17 operations of the MTN Group after he left Nigeria.

As both Wood and Farroukh go head-to-head in the quest to clinch the 9Mobile business it promises to be battle royal.

Beside the distinguished record that favors Farroukh, according to the second report with table shown below, he is armed with a local Nigerian operation and presence and Smile 800 LTE Broad band frequency that will be a game changer.

See the table below;


Experienced Management Team ü ü
Management Capability of running a Big Operator ü ü
Local Presence in an Operating Company ü X
Nigerian Shareholding ü ?
Smile – 9Mobile combined

Best frequency rang to serve Data and LTE Broadband growth

ü X

You would recall that In July 2017 Nigerians were shocked to the news that consortiums of banks took over 9Mobile following a N541 billion debt profile.

And consequently, Mubadala Group, the major investor from the United Arab Emirates, pulled out of Nigeria’s fourth largest mobile operator as a result of the debt secured from13 banks.

The telco was then put on sale, with Barclays Africa acting as transaction advisers.

The telecom regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), is expected to have the final say after decision of an interim board — for licensing processes.

We will keep you posted as events unfold.