The Nigerian government has approved the sale of ailing state-run incumbent telco Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL) to New Generation Telecommunications, eight months after a panel was set up to review the sale process following confusion over the consortium’s ownership, Bloomberg reports. New Generation – consisting of China Unicom, Minerva Group of Dubai and Nigeria’s GiCell Wireless – was revealed as the preferred buyer for the 75% stake in NITEL and its wireless unit M-Tel in February 2010, after beating four other hopefuls with a bid of USD2.5 billion. However, initial confusion about China Unicom’s involvement in the consortium led to criticism that the process had been marred by irregularities and a lack of transparency. Rather than approving the bid, the National Council of Privatisation (NCP) opted to inaugurate a committee to undertake further due diligence on the bidders of NITEL. In June 2010 the panel recommended that the deal be approved. In a statement released yesterday the country’s privatisation body, the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), announced that President Goodluck Jonathan has now approved the sale of NITEL to New Generation. The consortium has been asked to pay a bid security of USD750 million within ten days and will have 60 days to pay the remaining USD1.75 billion.
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