Nigeria’s federal government has granted Omen International, the reserve bidder for state-run telco Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL), an extension to confirm it is still interested in buying the ailing former telecoms monopoly, This Day reports. The British Virgin Islands-registered consortium has now been given until 10 June 2011 to pay the bid security of USD105 million for a 75% stake in NITEL and its mobile arm M-Tel. In March 2011 the Omen consortium, which includes China Unicom and Fiber Home Technologies Limited, was invited 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 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 Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) is said to be considering other options for the telco, which 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.
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