Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has announced the sale of a 75% stake in Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) to Transnational Corporation (Transcorp) for USD750 million. The sale is subject to approval by the National Council on Privatisation. Under the terms of the deal Transcorp is required to pay the first instalment of USD500 million within seven days and the balance within 60 days. Transcorp has Britain’s BT Group as a technical partner, while Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat) is its technical and equity partner, having withdrawn its own earlier independent bid.
Transcorp was set up in 2005 with the support of President Olusegun Obasanjo by a group of Nigerian businessmen to support to promote local industry and trade. It has bought up a range of assets, including an oil company and the Hilton Hotel in the capital Abuja, and has drawn some accusations of cronyism, which the government denies. According to Transcorp’s bid, it will invest USD1 billion in NITEL and has already secured funding. Losing bidders for the stake include Celtel, Telkom South Africa, Investcom, Globacom and Afro Telecommunications.