Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has given Omen International, the reserve bidder for state-run telco Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL), two weeks to confirm it is still interested in buying the ailing former telecoms monopoly, Reuters reports, citing BPE director general Bolanle Onagoruwa.
Last month the British Virgin Islands-registered Omen consortium, which includes China Unicom and Fiber Home Technologies Limited, was invited by the BPE to re-register its interest in buying NITEL, after preferred buyer New Generation Telecommunications repeatedly failed to meet the payment deadlines for its bid of USD2.5 billion.
Omen offered USD956.9 million for a 75% stake in NITEL and its mobile arm M-Tel during the latest attempt to privatise the company, held in February 2010, however the company has so far failed to revalidate its interest in buying the operator.
The BPE has stated that other options for the telco include setting a minimum price for NITEL and offering it to the remaining bidders, as well as liquidating the company, or restarting the whole bidding process again. The government began seeking a buyer for a minimum 75% of NITEL and 100% of M-Tel in July 2009 after previous majority shareholder Transcorp divested its stake earlier in the year.