A total of 17 companies have expressed an interest in bidding for the assets of Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL) and its mobile arm M-Tel, as part of the ailing state-owned incumbent’s ongoing guided liquidation process. Business Day cites Benjamin Dikki, director-general of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), as saying that 17 expressions of interest had been submitted by the 30 June deadline, while a further five were received after that date but had not been accepted. He added that the 17 companies are currently being evaluated as part of the BPE’s approval process, with the successful candidates then ‘given a chance to do due diligence, and then at the appropriate time be asked to submit technical and financial bids.’ Last month the liquidator said it was seeking bidders with five years of telecom experience and a net worth of at least USD200 million. The assets would be handed over to the preferred bidder in December.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that a number of recent attempts to privatise NITEL and its mobile unit M-Tel have been unsuccessful. In 2010 the preferred buyer of the telco, New Generation Telecommunications, failed to meet a number of deadlines to pay its USD2.5 billion offer, while reserve bidder Omen International also failed to come up with the USD956million it offered for the company. In March 2012 the government approved the adoption of a ‘guided liquidation’ strategy for NITEL and M-Tel, with Olutola Senbore appointed as liquidator in July 2013. The NCP said the process will protect the government from future claims and liabilities, as proceeds of the sale may be less than the value of the debt. NITEL is reported to owe creditors around NGN350 billion (USD2.1 billion).