Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) says it has pre-qualified six companies for the sale of a controlling stake in state-run Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), from a list of 22 prospective investors. South African cellco Vodacom, Chinese equipment vendor Huawei Technologies, Orascom Telecom of Egypt, pan-African operator Celtel International, South Africa-based MTN Group and the relatively unknown Newtel consortium – thought to feature a number of prominent African businessmen, including Nelson Mandela’s son-in-law Kwame Amuah – have all been shortlisted for the 51% in debt-ridden NITEL and, with it, the wholly owned mobile subsidiary NITEL GSM, which offers services under the brand name M-Tel. The BPE is now offering the bidders access to NITEL’s ‘data room’ for a USD35,000 fee. It hopes to conclude a deal by September.
The state’s previous attempt at a stake sale failed in March 2003 after the preferred bidder, International London Limited (ILL), failed to pay the USD1.11 billion agreed 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.