Nigerian conglomerate Transcorp has failed to pay the USD500 million deposit for a 75% stake in NITEL, but according to reports carried in the local press has attempted to show good faith by lodging 10% of the purchase price with the regulator. Transcorp was named the winner of the NITEL stake by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) on 6 July with a bid of USD750 million; under the terms of the auction Transcorp was given just seven days to pay the initial instalment, which expired last Thursday. The balance of USD250 million is due within 60 days of the award. According to a statement by the BPE, the National Council on Privatisation must now make a decision whether to grant an extension or revoke the deal.
Transcorp claims the reason behind the delayed payment is a number of ‘unresolved issues’, which it maintains it is discussing with BPE. While declining to specify the exact nature of its queries, Transcorp vice president Dayo Ojo said in a statement to Reuters ‘We are confident these issues will be resolved. According to local reports the BPE is likely to agree to extend the payment date to 60 days, meaning the full purchase price will fall due in early September.
The privatisation of NITEL has been dogged by controversy ever since 2002, when its sale to a London-registered company collapsed after the firm failed to pay up the promised USD1.3 billion.