Barclays bank was saddled with the responsibility of the bidding process for 9mobile and it appears that a sale will be completed by December 31. The players in the bidding process include Bharti Airtel, Globacom, Dangote, Abraaj Capital, Africa Capital Alliance, Carlyle group, Centricus capital and Africell, Helios Towers, Smile Telecoms Holdings and Teleology Holdings.
However, experts believe that Globacom and Bharti Airtel have higher chances in the scramble for the embattled telecom firm because of their avid experience as competitors in the Nigerian market. If either successfully takes the crown, MTN will cease from being the market leader in the country and this will be a game changer for both telecom firms. It may rejuvenate a new episode of a scramble for subscribers.
Regulators had previously saved the embattled telecom firm from a collapse after it couldn’t pay back the $1.2b loan it acquired from a consortium of banks as a result of the unstable economy of the country at the time. This crisis led to the birth of 9mobile after Etisalat exited the company in June, this year.
Despite this crisis, however, 9mobile was recognized for its resilience as it made the top 50 brands list for 2017 in the annual report. This only proves that the company has prospects to restore its greatness regardless of the challenging operating system. Little wonder why Globacom and Bharti Airtel are fighting hard to take the crown. Should this happen, either of them will be ahead of MTN which is currently the market leader.
Currently, MTN controls 36% of the market share with 50.7 million subscribers; Globacom takes the second position with 37 million customers, making it control 26.6% market share; Airtel controls 35 million customers, representing 25% of the market; 9mobile controls only 17 million customers, leaving it with the smallest pie of the market share, 12.2%.
Reports reveal that Airtel is battling to take the lead from Globacom and its improvement in customer numbers in its latest earning report stands in its favour. Although there had been rumours that it planned to exit Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania to pursue the Nigerian bid to maximise more profit. It refuted this claim and reiterated its goal to be a leader in each of the market it controls in Africa.
9mobile is known for providing good internet service among the other players in the market and also for its world-class customer service delivery. These factors may have contributed to its recognition in the last annual report. Whatever the case may be, the new owner must be willing to continue in its threshold of greatness, otherwise, the victory may not last long.