Nigeria’s National Council on Privatisation (NCP) has selected two companies to participate in the guided liquidation of defunct state-owned incumbent Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL) and its mobile arm M-Tel, local newspaper The Guardian reports. A total of 17 companies expressed an interest in bidding for the assets of NITEL and M-Tel by the 30 June deadline, but only two – Natcom Consortium (majority-owned by Vietnamese military-run telecoms group Viettel) and Nectar Consortium – have been prequalified to proceed to the next stage of the process. 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).