Teleology Holdings, the new owners of 9mobile, have withdrawn from further participation in the 9mobile takeover. Teleology acquired 9mobile, known then as Etisalat, in November 2018 — about eight months after it made an initial $500million non-refundable deposit to acquire the telco, and a cumulative 10 months after the takeover was billed to have been finalised.
Etisalat, the fourth of Nigeria’s GSM service providers, began trading as ‘9mobile’ following the financial consequences of defaulting in the servicing of a syndicated loan of $1.2billion owed a consortium of 13 Nigerian banks. In the aftermath, its erstwhile technical partners Etisalat exited the business and requested that the use of the ‘Etisalat’ brand name by the company be discontinued forthwith.
Teleology Holdings, a special purpose vehicle comprising telecom industry veterans and led by Adrian Wood, pioneer Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria, eventually won the final bid — ahead of Airtel, Globacom, Smile, Helios. The Australian, credited with building a very good business model, has remained in the Nigerian business environment since leaving MTN in November 2004.
Teleology Holdings’ successful bid for 9mobile was due largely to the quality of its proposed seven-man management team led by Wood and was approved by the NCC Technical Evaluation Committee, the 13-member bank lending syndicate as well as the acquisition finance provider, Afreximbank.
Teleology Holdings has become increasingly uncomfortable with actions taken outside of the agreed business plan, since the takeover, most important of which is how it has been blocked from concluding a management services contract with the local joint venture, Teleology Nigeria Limited. The management services contract would have enabled Teleology Holdings and its team of experts oversee the implementation of its elaborate business plans including funding proposals — but that so far been impossible.
Wood is understood to have resigned from the boards of Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services (trading as 9mobile) as well as Teleology Nigeria Limited and has already communicated his current disenchantment with the 9Mobile project to his confidants in Teleology.
“Fifteen Teleology experts have worked since June 2017 on detailed 9mobile turnaround planning, development strategies and financial restructuring,” one quoted him as saying on Monday.
“This included lining up more than US$500 million fresh direct foreign investment from international institutions. 9mobile is an exciting opportunity to build a revolutionary mobile network that could be the pride of Nigeria. Unfortunately, it appears that we will not be able to participate. We now must stand down from further work on the 9mobile project.”
Teleology Holdings Ltd will be seeking to exit its shareholding in the local joint venture Teleology Nigeria Limited, which will be required to change its name. The development may further compound the woes of the struggling 9mobile operation.
In a pre-disconnection notice advertised by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)) on December 18, HIS, the infrastructure services provider which hosts a majority of 9mobile’s base stations, was granted permission to disconnect 9mobile and other debtor telecom operators within a 10-day ultimatum, ostensibly on account of 9mobile’s indebtedness. Should this disconnection take place, subscribers on 9mobile’s network would have been effectively shut out completely from the telecommunications network and would be unable to make or receive calls.
9Mobile has been at the receiving end of considerable customer attrition since its financial troubles became public in 2017.
From more than 22million customers in its heyday in October 2016, for instance, the network had just a little over 15million active subscribers in November 2018, according to NCC data, and has consistently lost customers with each passing month.
Power sector bailout in jeopardy
The poor remittance levels of the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) in Nigeria’s privatized power market may have defeated the aim of the N701 billion bailout by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the power generation companies and gas suppliers.
From the analysis of the market records obtained Thursday in Abuja, the original intentions of the bailout funds were to support the Gencos to continue to produce electricity for at least two years when the Discos would be able to pay substantially for power sold to them.
However, there are strong indications that this objective may not be achieved because the Discos remit an average of 25.5 percent monthly to the NBET for power sold to them as against 80 percent remittance target by the end of 2018.
The development, it was learned, means that the 80 percent Discos remittance level the NBET anticipated at the end of the disbursement of the N701 billion in December 2018 would not be feasible.
The inability of the Discos to hit the 80 percent remittance target in 2018 will also potentially weaken the capacity of NBET to repay the N701 billion in 10 years.
The NBET obtained the N701 billion facility from the CBN in 2017 to guarantee payments for electricity generated and supplied by power generation companies (Gencos).
The bailout was intended to bridge the payment shortfalls to Gencos and gas suppliers, and ultimately sustain electricity supply to Nigerians.
It was expected that at the end of the disbursement of the bailout between January 2017 and December 2018, the monthly remittances of the Discos for power supplied to them would have come up to 80 percent.
But the market remittances indicated that on the average the Discos paid 25.5 percent monthly, thus jeopardizing the intention of the bailout.
Court issues warning to CBN,NCC over Etisalat
A Federal High Court in Abuja has warned the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian Telecommunication Commission (NCC) and others involved in the transaction for the sale of troubled telecom firm Etisalat (9mobile) against taking further steps to conclude the sale.
The warning was informed by the claim by some aggrieved investors that despite a subsisting order of the court, made on October 10, last year, by Justice Binta Nyako, barring parties to the transaction from taking further steps pending the determination of the suit, the CBN, First Bank, and others have allegedly sold the firm and transferred its ownership.
The warning by the court is contained in Form 48 issued by the court’s Registrar, on institutions listed as defendants in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/288/2018 filed by the aggrieved shareholders, through Afdin Ventures Ltd and Dirbia Nigeria Ltd.
The Form 48 reads: “Take notice that unless you obey the directions contained in the order of the Federal High Court number three, Abuja, made on the 10th of October 2018 ordering parties to maintain status quo, with regard to the sale of Etisalat Nigeria Limited (rebranded 9mobile), you will be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison.”
The affected defendants are Karington Telecommunications Ltd, Premium Telecommunications Holding NV, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Central Bank of Nigeria, Etisalat International Nigeria Ltd (trading under the name and style of 9mobile) and the Nigerian Communication Commission.
The aggrieved subscribers, who claimed to be major investors in Etisalat, said they were excluded from the firm’s decision making and therefore want a refund of their investment estimated at $43,330,950.
Afdin and Dirbia, in newly filed court documents, alleged that the defendants have not only sold the company, despite the existing restraining order, but they have also effected a transfer of ownership to a new set of buyers.
They exhibited newspaper publications, indicating that the defendants have allegedly proceeded with the sale in breach of the pending court order.
The aggrieved shareholders, in a pre-action notice issued by their lawyer, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), are threatening to institute fresh suits against the CBN, NCC and First Bank in an effort to retrieve their investment and accrued interest.
The pre-action notice, copies of which were sighted in Abuja, were addressed to the CBN Governor and NCC Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer.
Part of the notice reads: “The intending plaintiffs, who are shareholders in Etisalat Nigeria Ltd, having purchased a total number of 1, 300,391 at $13,003,910 only and 3,300,004 Class A shares at $30,030,040) intend to sue for the recovery of their investment, dividends on their shores, and damages for breach of contract.
“Please kindly recall that, by the custodian agreement, all the shares certificates of the plaintiffs were kept under your custody.
“However, you have failed to exercise your role in good faith leading to the sale of Etisalat Nigeria Limited to Teleology Nigeria Ltd, at the detriment of our clients.
Power Supply Averages 3,952MW
Despite the promise by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, in October 2018 that nationwide power supply could get better with the anticipated addition of 945MW of electricity into the grid before the end of the year, the average power supply in January 2019 was below the December 2018 level, investigation has revealed.
A data obtained from the office of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, showed that the average power generated and distributed to Nigerians in the first one month of 2019, was 3,952 megawatts (MW), representing a decline from the level of generation in December 2018, by 141MW or 3.4 percent.
According to the data from the Advisory Power Team in Osinbajo’s office, electricity supply in December 2018, averaged 4,093MW.
However, 3,020MW was constrained from getting to homes and offices in the country, while an average of N44.9 billion worth of revenue was not earned by the market.
To attain this level of generation, 22.713 million standard feet per day (mmscfd) of gas supplied.
However, in January 2019, the average volume slightly dropped to 3,952MW with 2,782MW constrained, N41.3 billion unearned and 21.472mmscfd of gas supplied, indicating a drop in gas supply to power plants by 1.241mmscfd.
Fashola had promised that the nationwide power supply could get better with an additional 945MW of electricity expected to be added to the national grid before the end of 2018.
The minister had while speaking at a business breakfast meeting of the Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce in Lagos which was themed: ‘Power Sector and the Way Forward,’ said then that additional power would be generated to the national grid from the 450MW Azura Edo power plant; 215MW Kaduna power plant; 240MW Afam-V power plant; and 40MW Kashimbilla hydro plant, by the end of 2018.
He had stated that the power sector had recorded successful improvements in its generation, transmission, and distribution sub-sectors.
But the January power supply data showed that only the 450MW-capacity Azura Edo power plant was on to the grid while the other three are not.
Azura had, however, in April 2018, announced the completion of its plant, indicating that all of its three turbines with a collective output of 450MW have been deployed in Nigeria’s national grid.
Additionally, four existing plants – Sapele; AES; ASCO and Olorunsogo NIPP plants were shut down within the period of January 2019, while power supply in 12 out of the 31 days in the month were below 4,000MW unlike in December 2018 when it was below 4,000MW only two days.
THISDAY gathered from the data that in January that the sector recorded a lot of water management issues, which according to experts, could have resulted from the gravity of water levels in the country’s hydropower plants, while other grid-related constraints also persisted during the month under review.
Celebrating 133 years of petrol-driven cars
The story of the first petrol-driven car cannot be complete without outlining the invaluable contributions of Karl Benz.
Benz provided the first patent for such a car on the 29th of January 1886. The first patent was a three-wheeled automobile called the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. The Motorwagen consisted of steel-spoked wheels, rubber tyres and was sold for 600 imperial marks which were about $4000 in today’s money.
The noteworthy means of transportation prior to Karl Benz’s motor was the “horseless carriages”. There was also the stream driven vehicle which was the handiwork of Richard Trevithick. The stream driven vehicle broke into the limelight in London and was widely acclaimed as the first of it’s kind. However, the Motorwagen, with its lightweight 954cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine, represented a real breakthrough because of its energy efficiency. It paved the way for the private motor car.
The birth of the motor car posed a threat to the coach companies and they tried to use government influence to stop its growth and influx into the market. This is reminiscent of the present hostilities between Uber and cab companies who see the former as a threat to their existence. In 1896, existing laws were repealed to make the operations of cars smoother and faster by removing the man who must walk in front of the early cars with a red flag. The early cars were preferred option because it was cheaper to produce than horses and carriages. Henry Ford’s entrance into the car manufacturing industry was a game changer and ensured that cars became cheaper to produce.
Town planners have never been too impressed with motor cars. The independence cars give drivers to choose to go wherever and whenever they deem fit is not something planners have been comfortable with. The ideal option for planners is to move people together in units to one-stop destinations. This makes public transport the chosen mode of transportation for those charged with the responsibility of planning urban and city centers. There have been attempts to stifle the growth and usage of private cars but it has not yielded any success.
In hindsight, the pollution and emission caused by petrol engines and the attendant health hazards have done a lot of harm. The age of the internal combustion engine that Benz ushered in is drawing to a close. Plans are at an advanced stage to ban fossil fuel engines from major cities across the world in a few years. This will not in any way bring an end to the era of private cars or the luxury and independence it has brought to people for decades. Self-driving cars and drones will make are the in thing now and it will be available to those unable to drive. There is still the issue of congestion and collision but artificial intelligence will most likely solve that conundrum.
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