Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Nigeria Working on New NITEL Privatisation Bid

Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the agency tasked with overseeing the privatisation of fixed line incumbent Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL), is finalising the process for a negotiated sale of the telco, after the latest attempt to privatise the ailing company was cancelled earlier this year.

Nigerian newspaper The Punch cites a spokesman for the BPE, Mr. Chukwuma Nwoko, as saying that the bureau is working out the details for the sale of NITEL and its mobile arm M-Tel. He also confirmed that a number of potential core investors had shown interest in the exercise but declined to disclose the identity of the firms.

In the last month, initial bidder Brymedia Consortium, local firm Syntel and Microfone Telecom Nigeria, an initiative of the Nigerian Capital Development Fund, have all reportedly expressed an interest in acquiring NITEL and M-Tel.

Meanwhile, Mike Adenuga, executive chairman of Nigeria’s second national telecoms operator Globacom, allegedly approached the government to purchase a stake in NITEL via a vehicle established especially for the deal.

Earlier this month that the BPE was given government approval to embark on a negotiated sale of NITEL, after the latest attempt to privatise the firm was cancelled in June 2011 when the reserve bidder, British Virgin Islands-based Omen International, failed to meet the deadline to pay a bid security. Omen was invited to re-register its interest in buying NITEL in March 2011, as preferred buyer New Generation Telecommunications repeatedly missed the payment deadlines for its bid of USD2.5 billion.

Omen offered USD956.9 million during the latest attempt to privatise the company, held in February 2010. 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.

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