After the bidding process that would eventually provide a fresh investor for 9Mobile, formerly Etisalat, Nigeria’s $70 billion telecommunications industry is ready to behold a major acquisition on or before December 31. The sale of 9mobile was after regulators saved the company from collapse when both an investment fund and Etisalat exited the country in June, following the default of a $1.2billion loan.
According to the industry trends, Globacom is seriously looking for every way to overthrow MTN and become the largest operator in Nigeria. Market Analysts believe that the war for the soul of 9Mobile lies strictly between Globacom and Airtel, because of their financial muscles and experiences in the Nigerian market. Should either be successful in the bid, the additional connections would see it overturn MTN as the market leader.
After MTN, Globacom is second and it controls 26.6 percent market share and 37 million customers, while Airtel is third with 35 million customers as of the end of October. Embattled 9Mobile has 17 million customers, which is 12.2 percent of the market while MTN controls 36 percent market share, with 50.7 million customers.
Before the pursuit for the soul of 9Mobile, industry analysts said in the prospect of its position in the market, 9Mobile may not be very appealing to international buyers when considered against the $1.2billion syndicated loan default which is now a liability that must be factored in any acquisition bid. Aside from the liabilities, they also believe it would be easier for an existing player in the industry who wishes to increase its bar of market share to purchase the company and sharply rise to become a strong competitor.