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Nigeria to finalise telecom sale

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After months of wrangling, waiting and withdrawals, Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises is looking to finalize a negotiated sale of the country’s Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL), which has seen two proposed deals fall through earlier this year.

NITEL's headquarters (image: Daily Times)

According to local reports, the BPE is hopeful that the struggling state-owned company will be ready for sale in the immediate future. BPE spokesperson Chukwuma Nwoko told reporters 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 did not identity of the firms. 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, The Punch newspaper said.

The sale of the company 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 $2.5 billion.

Omen offered $956.9 million during the latest attempt to privatize the company, held in February 2010. The government began seeking a buyer for a minimum 75 percent of NITEL and 100 percent of M-Tel in July 2009 after previous majority shareholder Transcorp divested its stake earlier in the year.

David Eto

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