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ABUJA, April 11 (Reuters) - Nigeria's Teleology Holdings has 90 days to pay $450 million to complete its acquisition of telecoms provider 9mobile or face a rival bid, the country's telecoms regulator said on Wednesday.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said 9mobile would be transferred to Teleology after the payment of $450 million, but added that reserve bidder Smile Communications could be considered if Teleology failed to complete the payment in time.
9mobile, formerly Etisalat Nigeria, is Nigeria's fourth largest telecoms provider. It took out a $1.2 billion syndicated loan from 13 local banks in 2013 but failed to make repayments last year. Under the stewardship of its lenders, it has changed its board, management and name and is now up for sale.
Investment holding company Teleology said last month it had made a $50 million deposit to meet conditions for the acquisition and had partnered with East Africa's largest telecoms operator Safaricom to transform debt-laden 9mobile.
Teleology, which was set up by 12 telecoms industry veterans led by ex-MTN Nigeria executive Adrian Wood, was picked as the preferred bidder for debt-laden 9mobile, following a bid process arranged by Barclays Africa. Mauritius-registered Smile Communications, which operates mobile networks in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda, was named reserve bidder. (Reporting by Camillus Eboh; writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; editing by Jason Neely and Susan Fenton)