Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) says it hopes to formulate a shortlist of potential buyers for a controlling stake in state-run Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) by the end of the month. So far 20 companies including Telkom SA, Vodacom, Vodafone, MTN Nigeria, Celtel and VSNL have expressed an interest in buying the operator. The BPE had originally hoped to offload a 51% stake in the beleaguered telco by June, but last month announced it was delaying the sale until the third quarter. The state’s last attempt at a stake sale failed in March 2003 after the preferred bidder, International London Limited (ILL), failed to pay the USD1.11 billion asking price. The latest sell-off was provoked by the government’s annulment of an NITEL management contract with Pentascope of the Netherlands over alleged incompetence. Pentascope was given the three-year, USD12 million contract when ILL pulled out of the sale.