Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has announced that it has once again pushed back the deadline for the submission of technical and financial proposals for the privatisation of ailing fixed line incumbent Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) and its mobile arm M-Tel. In order to allow for additional time for prospective investors to conclude due diligence, interested parties will now have until 5 February 2010 to submit bids for the telco, extended from 22 January 2010. The BPE explained that a number of investors requested an extension as striking NITEL and M-Tel workers, protesting the non-payment of their salaries, had prevented them from visiting the company to conduct effective due diligence. A total of 14 companies have reportedly undertaken electronic due diligence on the incumbent telco: MTN Nigeria, Etisalat Nigeria, Brymedia, a consortium between Finetek.com and Ericsson, Omen International, Fugar Technologies, MTI Consortium, Telefonica, Globacom Nigeria, Conau, Dansacom Technologies, Adison Consulting, AF21/Spectrum and Foneama.com.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the federal government began seeking a buyer for a minimum 75% of NITEL and 100% of its mobile unit in July 2009 after previous majority shareholder Transcorp divested its stake earlier in the year. The original deadline for the submission of technical and financial bids was 2 October 2009 but this was pushed back to 26 October due to the complexity of the process, and then again to 22 January 2010. Prospective investors are invited to acquire either at least 75% equity in the entire NITEL conglomerate or a stake in one or several of its components, including M-Tel, submarine fiber-optic cable division SAT-3, the company’s domestic fixed line infrastructure, its national fibre-optic transmission backbone, and its CDMA network.