The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is conducting health-checks on the financial well-being of all telecommunication companies in the country to avert a recurrence of the challenges that forced the exit of UAE’s Etisalat.
In an interview with Bloomberg, the country’s chief telecom regulator and Executive Vice-Chairman of the NCC, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta said the commission is assessing the health of MTN Nigeria, Bharti Airtel and Globacom; adding that they have “issues that can be addressed.”
Danbatta told Bloomberg, that the regulator is introducing more regular and tougher financial checks on all the country’s biggest service providers. “These are all measures we’re putting in place to ensure the survival of 9mobile and prevent a repeat of what happened,” Danbatta said.
MTN Nigeria leads the market with over 45 million subscribers, followed by Globacom with more than 38 million subscribers and then Bharti Airtel with over 35 million subscribers. Troubled 9Mobile (formerly Etisalat Nigeria) has about 16 million subscribers having lost over three million subscribers as its financial and ownership crises surge.
“In 2017, the Nigerian Communications Commission and the Central Bank of Nigeria intervened to save Etisalat Nigeria from collapse after it failed to pay the remaining $589 million from a $1.2 billion loan it took from a consortium of 13 banks. The lenders seized control of a 45% stake from the primary investor Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat International).”
9Mobile now has a new buyer: Teleology Holdings with a winning bid of $500 million. Teleology Holdings has an asset portfolio of about $11 billion to fulfill part of NCC’s mandatory stipulations that the new owners of 9Mobile have a healthy financial capacity to ensure the company transit from its financial muddles to become sustainable again.