Nigeria’s Senate Committee on Privatisation has ordered the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) and the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) to halt the guided liquidation process of ailing fixed line incumbent Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL) and its mobile arm M-Tel. Local daily Leadership reports that the committee’s decision follows an earlier direction by the House of Representatives to suspend the planned liquidation of the two companies until an investigation to determine the exact value of NITEL and M-Tel could be carried out. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the federal government approved the adoption of a guided liquidation strategy for NITEL and M-Tel last month, following a series of failed attempts at selling the indebted state-owned telco. In June 2011 the latest attempt to privatise the firm was cancelled when the reserve bidder, British Virgin Islands-based Omen International, failed to meet the deadline to pay its USD105 million 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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