Adrian Wood pushed to ex­pose in­side deal­ings be­hind 9mo­bile sale

…as lo­cal share­hold­ers fight back

Business Day (Nigeria) - - FRONT PAGE - JUMOKE AKIYODE-LAWANSON & LOLADE AKINMURELE

Sources close to Tele­ol­ogy Hold­ings say ac­cu­sa­tions from lo­cal share­hold­ers claim­ing the Adrian Wood-led par­ent com­pany failed to meet fi­nan­cial and phys­i­cal obli­ga­tions are false and may leave them with no choice but to

di­vulge the in­side de­tails of the ac­qui­si­tion of Nige­ria’s fourth largest wire­less car­rier, 9mo­bile.

Fo­cus has since shifted to the iden­tity of the lo­cal share­hold­ers who re­main largely un­known.

“9- mo­bile’ s state­ment will only push Adrian Wood to the wall to ex­pose the un­fair deal­ings of Tele­ol­ogy Nige­ria,” a source fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said.

“All this is al­ready send­ing the wrong sig­nal to the for­eign com­mu­nity,” the source added.

The lo­cal share­hold­ers of 9-mo­bile swiped back at Wood in a state­ment Wednesday where they said the for­mer MTN CEO and his com­pany, Tele­ol­ogy Hold­ings, failed to meet some fi­nan­cial and phys­i­cal obli­ga­tions ear­lier agreed upon.

The state­ment came on the heels of Wood’ s claim to busi­ness day that he was dis­pleased with cer­tain ac­tions taken by the lo­cal share­hold­ers that were con­trary to the ini­tial ar­range­ment.

Wood’s dis­plea­sure led to his exit from the Board, and the lo­cal share­hold­ers have re­sponded by in­sist­ing that the project would con­tinue with­out any im­pute from Tele­ol­ogy Hold­ings, which they say is only a mi­nor­ity stake­holder in 9mo­bile.

There were ini­tial fears among in­dus­try play­ers that the loss of a tech­ni­cal part­ner in Tele­ol­ogy Hold­ings, could scut­tle the deal and force a sale re­ver­sal, given that the pro­posal made by Wood’s Tele­ol­ogy was a key con­sid­er­a­tion for reg­u­la­tory ap­proval by the Nige­rian Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion (NCC).

Adrian Wood is said to have proved to the tele­coms reg­u­la­tor that he had prior knowl­edge of the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try and was ca­pa­ble of us­ing his ex­per­tise to suc­cess­fully re­vive the ail­ing 9mo­bile.

A source at the NCC, how­ever, told Businessday Thursday that the sale re­mains in­tact and that the onus is on Tele­ol­ogy Nige­ria to select an­other tech­ni­cal part­ner.

“Al­though this is un­prece­dented wa­ters for NCC, it is not for the reg­u­la­tor to re­verse the sale as a deal has al­ready been sealed and own­er­ship trans­ferred to Tele­ol­ogy Nige­ria,” the source said.

What be­gan with an outburst of op­ti­mism for the 9-mo­bile project has soon turned sour af­ter some in­fight­ing be­tween the par­ent com­pany led by for­mer MTN CEO, Wood, and the Nige­rian unit, over the busi­ness strat­egy of 9mo­bile, with the par­ent pulling out.

The Nige­rian unit re­sponded to the par­ent com­pany’s exit with some harsh words.

“Wood was not per­son­ally present for all the crit­i­cal pre­sen­ta­tions made by the con­sor­tium dur­ing the bid process and failed ab­jectly with his fi­nanc­ing ar­range­ments with Swiss­based UBS Bank. In all these fail­ings, other part­ners in the con­sor­tium filled the gap and pushed ahead un­til the sale was com­pleted,” said Oluseyi Osunsedo, di­rec­tor, reg­u­la­tory and cor­po­rate af­fairs for 9-mo­bile.

Ac­cord­ing to Olu­sola Te­niola, Pres­i­dent, As­so­ci­a­tion of Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Com­pa­nies of Nige­ria (ATCON), Tele­ol­ogy is one en­tity with dif­fer­ent roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and Adrian Wood was not to han­dle the fi­nan­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, al­though the Nige­rian stake­hold­ers may have thought oth­er­wise.

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