Helios Towers, ex-MTN managers and multiple private equity firms also reportedly invited to submit bids

Global telcos, private equity firms, and a tower company are among 10 suitors chosen from a group of 16 to join the next round of bidding for Nigeria’s 9mobile.

This Day cited sources on Monday who said that these 10 companies have passed the technical bid stage, and have been asked by 9mobile’s financial advisor Barclays to file financial bids. As part of the process, each will have to submit a $150 million (€127.33 million) bid bond to prove they can actually afford to acquire 9mobile.

According to the report, the suitors vying for 9mobile include Nigeria’s number two player Globacom, Bharti Airtel’s Airtel Nigeria, South Africa-based Smile Telecom Holdings, and Africell Holdings. Also in the running is a consortium led by Alheri Engineering – a unit of local manufacturing firm Dangote – and U.S. private equity firm Blackstone.

Other private equity and investment firms hoping to land 9mobile are Dubai-based Abraaj Capital, pan-African investment group Africa Capital Alliance, and Carlyle Group.

In addition, tower company Helios Towers is reportedly through to the next round, as is Teleology Holdings, a special purpose vehicle led by former MTN Nigeria CEO Adrian Wood.

This Day reported that the winner of this round will be invited to negotiate and agree deal terms with 9mobile.

9mobile, formerly Etisalat Nigeria, put itself on sale in July, after its former parent company, U.A.E.-based Etisalat, missed a $1.2 billion loan repayment.

After the default, Etisalat’s 65% stake in the company passed its lenders, a group of 13 Nigerian banks. New management was brought in, and the operator was rebranded to 9mobile.