Stakeholders Absent at Proposed 9Mobile Sale over Court judgement

The planned sale of embattled 9Mobile which was to take place yesterday could not hold and no date was given for a future sale.
On the proposed sale date expected to take place in Abuja, the Nigerian capital city, key executes of the umpire of the telecoms industry were in Lagos, South West Nigeria attending The Stakeholders’ Forum On The Study For The Determination Of Cost Based Pricing For Retail Broadband And Data Services in Nigeria, where the Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC) delivered the welcome address.
When asked on the latest development on the sale of 9Mobile that was hold same day, he refused to comment saying that the case is already in court.
A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikoyi, had on Friday last week sacked the interim board appointed by United Capital Trustees Limited, the receiver-manager appointed by the consortium of 13 banks which lent 9mobile (formerly Etisalat Nigeria) $1.2 billion for giving false information that that earlier empowered it to appoint the board.
The solicitors to Spectrum Wireless warned that by virtue of the said judgment, the positions of Nnanna, Bickersteth, Igbokwe, Ighodaro and Olusanya, as security trustee nominees of the board of EMTS had been nullified and the order appointing them vacated.
The solicitors, J.A. Achimogu and Co and Dr. Reuben Atabo and Co., warned that any institution or company that transacts business for the purpose of sale or acquisition of EMTS or 9mobile, does so at his or her own risk.
Atabo said its client-Spectrum Wireless and three others-invested about $100 million in Etisalat in 2009, which the firm used to expand its infrastructure base, “and as we speak, no return on investment has come to anyone of us”.
He expressed displeasure that the protracted $1.2 billion syndicated loan facilitated by United Capital for Etisalat was shrouded in secrecy, stressing that some investors were not regarded in the entire process.
“When the problem arose, most of the directors abandoned the telecommunications firm because they never put their monies. It got to the stage that no audited account was prepared for us to see. Everything about the loan and Etisalat was shrouded in secrecy.
“Now, they are bringing in new cronies to get 9mobile again. I think Etisalat Nigeria’s board should be seriously investigated,” Atabo said.
On whether Spectrum Wireless had intimated the NCC on the matter, Atabo said: “We wrote several letters to the commission on the matter, but they claimed they were investigating and nothing has come out from the investigation before all this now came to the fore last Friday.”
He maintained that Spectrum Wireless wanted its money back, as “it was not only the banks that invested in Etisalat”.
“Our investment should be adequately recognised. No kobo has been returned to Spectrum Wireless since 2009,” he maintained.
He said the action of United Capital, which is fronting for the lending banks, did not take into consideration other stakeholders in EMTS, especially, the non-bank investors.
According to the solicitors, the decision of the court would paved the way for more inclusive discussions with all the shareholders and investors of EMTS to reach a broad-based resolution on the future of the company that would give due consideration to the interests of all stakeholders.
United Capital Trustees Limited has said it would appeal the judgement threatening that it would go ahead with the sale; a development which analyst says may compound the problem of 9Mobile.
The Nigerian Communications Commission did not react on the development when contacted.
Isaiah Erhiawarien


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