Barclays Africa is examining takeover bids from five prospective buyers for debt-laden 9mobile, two banking sources have said.

They, however, said that a deal might take a few months as it would involve restructuring the company’s debt after a default last year.

Barclays Africa, appointed by local banks to try to find new investors for 9mobile, will make a recommendation to the telecom company later, according to a Reuters report.

“This is not a simple bid. Where there’s a restructuring … investors would state conditions and negotiate what haircut (losses) if any, in respect to trade and financial creditors,” one of the sources told Reuters.

“Time to complete the deal will depend on how quickly advisers analyse the bids and make recommendations to 9mobile.”

Previously known as Etisalat Nigeria, 9mobile took out a $1.2bn syndicated loan from a group of 13 local banks in 2013 but struggled to make repayments last year, forcing its lenders to step in.

The central bank then intervened to stop creditors from putting it into receivership, leading to a change in its board and management, as well as its new company name.

The crisis forced parent company Etisalat to terminate its management agreement with the Nigerian business and surrender its 45 per cent stake to a trustee after the Central Bank of Nigeria intervention.

Another source said 9mobile’s board and its advisers, regulators and lenders witnessed the bid opening.

“There was screening of a large number of bidders which was narrowed down to five. They were given access to the management and site visits,” the second source said, without naming the bidders.

Source: Punch

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