Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) yesterday confirmed that NATCOM Consortium, the preferred bidder for the assets of defunct state-owned incumbent Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL) and its mobile arm M-Tel, has paid USD75.7 million – 30% – of the USD252.5 million asking price approved in December by the National Council on Privatisation (NCP). According to the BPE’s statement reported by Nigerian newspaper The Guardian, NATCOM’s initial payment met the BPE’s mandate to make an initial deposit of 30% of the bid price not later than 14 days from receipt of the offer letter, while the buyer has a further 90 days to pay the 70% balance. The BPE also confirmed that disbursements to creditors of the moribund NITEL/M-Tel can only be considered after full payment has been received.
The NCP approved the ‘guided liquidation’ of NITEL/M-Tel in February 2012 in light of previous failed privatisation attempts and huge liabilities to creditors of more than NGN300 billion (USD1.63 billion). Under the sale terms the assets must be maintained to provide telecoms services. Eventual buyer NATCOM is a special purpose entity set up for the acquisition, comprising a consortium of companies reportedly including NATSPACE Telecommunication Investment, Hong Kong-based telco PCCW Global, Prime Union Investment Limited, Olutoyl Estate Development & Services, Sahara Energy Resources, Legal Resources Alliance & Co and technical partner LM Ericsson Nigeria. NATCOM is required to roll out telecoms services in Nigeria within the next three years.