Sheffield United 'buyer's' company dealt fresh financial blow as important rating removed

One of the companies founded by Dozy Mmobuosi, who earlier this year appeared poised to buy Sheffield United, has been downgraded by Nigerian credit raters DataPro Limited.
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The move comes as a number of lawyers based in the US, including leading securities firm Levi & Korsinsky, file class actions against Tingo following a series of allegations by financial investigators Hindenburg Research (HR).

Having previously awarded Tingo Mobile - which operates under the Tingo umbrella - an A-star rating, DataPro announced that this was being suspended due to its failure to provide “clarity” regarding its recent acquisitions and financial practices.

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“In the past one week, DataPro has engaged with Tingo Mobile…unfortunately, the company has not taken advantage of the timeline for it to provide the needed information that will enable us to sustain the rating assigned,” a statement, confirming the move, read. “This statement is given without prejudice or malice, it is a standard rating procedure globally.”

Mmobuosi, who refutes HR’s allegations that both he and Tingo have provided misleading information to investors about their backgrounds and operations, agreed a £115m sale price with United’s current owner Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud earlier this year. However, he failed to gain the necessary approvals from the English Football League before the period of exclusivity he had been granted by the Saudi Arabian expired. Despite subsequently insisting he remained committed to gaining control of United, Mmobuosi’s bid now appears to have unravelled with the Premier League now responsible for vetting any potential takeovers following the club’s promotion from the Championship. However, as The Star has revealed, the two organisations will pool any knowledge on any ‘persons of interest’ should Prince Abdullah either negotiate a full sale or secure external sources of investment in the future.

Sheffield United are heading back to the Premier League next season: Paul Thomas /SportimageSheffield United are heading back to the Premier League next season: Paul Thomas /Sportimage
Sheffield United are heading back to the Premier League next season: Paul Thomas /Sportimage

Among the allegations HR levelled at Tingo Mobile and other parts of the Tingo organisation, were that the Nigerian Communications Commission “showed it has no record of Tingo being a mobile licensee at all, despite company claims of it having 12 million mobile customers”, queries about the type of licence it stated it did have and a visit to its office revealed “only a handful of employees and a sign posted on its door by federal tax authorities stating that the company is delinquent on its tax obligations.”

Similar criticisms were aimed at Tingo Airlines, which Mmobuosi later revealed was being dissolved, Tingo Foods, Tingo Pay and Tingo DMCC; an agricultural exports business.

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In February, while Mmobuosi was negotiating with Prince Abdullah and his representatives, Tingo issued a press release stating that it was seeking $500m to expand its sphere of influence across Africa. This was supposed to be raised through a combination of debt and equity financing.

Dozy Mmobuosi wanted to buy Sheffield UnitedDozy Mmobuosi wanted to buy Sheffield United
Dozy Mmobuosi wanted to buy Sheffield United

It has recently emerged that Mmobuosi, a Nigerian national who has a home in London, had been awarded a diplomatic passport by Malawi. It is believed his application was processed at speed, after he visited the east African country to pledge support for the victims of a tropical storm.

Prince Abdullah is now thought to be speaking with potential backers based in North America and Saudi.

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