As the curtains are about to be drawn on the sale of 9Mobile, a discernible trend has emerged from the camp of the two finalists; Smile Telecoms Holdings and Teleology Holdings Limited. On either side are former CEOs of MTN Nigeria leading the charge. Smile Telecoms Holdings has one of its leaders Ahmad Farroukh and Teleology Holdings Limited is led by Adrian Wood.
Adrian Wood was the second Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria but his tenure was short-lived. He served for almost two years only.
Thereafter he was named Group Managing Director of Daily Times of Nigeria and like his stint at MTN he left abruptly and in circumstances that were said to be unsavory. He is currently the CEO of Brymedia West Africa Limited.
Ahmad Farroukh who joined MTN as Chief Executive Officer after 18 months from Wood departure, is currently the Group Executive Director in charge of Operations at Smile Telecoms Holdings.
Given the preeminent role of Smile Nigeria towards the realisation of the Federal Government’s quest for enhanced broadband penetration, Ahmad spends most of his executive time in Nigeria and will be central to Smile’s quest to acquire 9Mobile.
Farroukh had the arduous task of bringing MTN Nigeria to what is it is today. His service record for the full tenure he served is stellar.
Between July 2006 and April 2011 he increased MTN subscriber base to 40 million and achieved 62% healthy margin. He had the distinction of managing 17 operations of the MTN Group after he left Nigeria.
As both Wood and Farroukh go head-to-head in the quest to clinch the 9Mobile business it promises to be battle royal. Beside the distinguished record that favors Farroukh, he is armed with a local Nigerian operation and presence and Smile 800 LTE Broad band frequency that will be a game changer.
The Contenders: Smile Telecoms Holdings Ltd and Teleology Holdings
Smile Nigeria, a member of Smile Telecoms Holdings Limited, launched West Africa’s true 4G LTE network in Ibadan in 2013 thereby revolutionizing the way people access the Internet. Industry Watchers have applauded Smile for bringing fast and reliable Internet service to Nigerians.
The company became the first operator in West Africa to offer its customers Voice over LTE services and give them access to the growing global standard for voice and video calling. It has a top drawer board headed by the consummate investor Dr. Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi
Smile Telecoms Holdings Limited, founded in 2007, is a Mauritius-based Pan-African telecommunications group with operations in Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Smile has the largest sub-1 GHz 4G LTE commercial network in Africa, operating in the 800 MHz band, providing SuperFast and Reliable broadband services to its customers.
Smile launched Africa’s first commercial 4G LTE network in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in May 2013 – revolutionizing the way people access information online.
Since then, Smile has extended its coverage in Tanzania to 7 regions and also launched commercially in Uganda in June 2013, with coverage expanded to 14 cities.
In March 2014 Smile launched West-Africa’s first 4G LTE mobile broadband service in Nigeria with coverage now extended to 8 cities.
By the end of 2015, Smile had the biggest 4G LTE mobile broadband network in Africa and continues to expand its network coverage.
In 2016 Smile launched its SuperClear voice, video and SMS services over LTE, enabling all our customers to use one data bundle for SuperFast broadband and SuperClear voice services. Smile has transitioned from a spectrum rich start-up to the most reliable data gigabyte factory in Sub-Sahara Africa.
Ahmad Farroukh is the Executive Director, Operations of Smile Telecoms Holdings Limited. Most recently, he served as the rescue CEO of Mobily, Saudi Arabia’s second largest telecommunications operator.
Ahmad is an experienced telecoms executive with a distinguished record of commercial success, extensive experience working in Nigeria and Africa and an impressive ability to drive strategy and profitability in accordance with international standards.
He has held executive management positions at Investcom Holdings and the MTN Group, including being CEO of MTN Nigeria for five years, CEO of MTN South Africa and MTN Group Chief Operating Executive (responsible for 17 countries).
Ahmad holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and Accounting from the Lebanese American University and is a Certified Public Accountant (New York, USA).
2) Teleology Holdings Limited:
Teleology Holdings Limited is a consortium of companies with eminent Nigerians including frontline politicians, revered traditional rulers and notable business executives as shareholders.
It is more of a Special Purpose Vehicle designed specifically for the 9Mobile bid but lacks the much needed requisite experience.
Adrian Wood, lead promoter of Teleology Holdings Limited is an international technology and investment executive.
He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Brymedia West Africa Limited.
He has served as Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria and Group Managing Director of Daily Times Nigeria.
His career spans major operators such as Telstra, Portugal Telecom, Telecom Finland-Sonera, France Telecom, Orange UK, Telenor,
Wood’s expertise extends to complex, geographically and culturally diverse businesses, brand development, growth in a regulated environment, capacity building, government & community relations.