Nigerian news source This Day reports that the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) has inaugurated a committee to undertake further due diligence on the bidders of ailing incumbent telco Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL), rather than approve a USD2.5 billion bid submitted by preferred buyer New Generation Telecommunications last month. Acting president and NCP chairman, Goodluck Jonathon, has also tasked the seven-member panel with investigating allegations of financial impropriety surrounding the sale process. The committee has been given one week to submit its report to the NCP.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the government began seeking a buyer for a minimum 75% of NITEL and 100% of its mobile unit M-Tel in July 2009 after previous majority shareholder Transcorp divested its stake earlier in the year. After much delay, financial bids opened on 16 February 2010, but only six of the 14 pre-qualified consortia met the 5 February deadline for the submission of technical and financial proposals: Brymedia; AF21/Spectrum consortium; MTN Nigeria; Globacom Nigeria; Omen International; and New Generation Telecommunications. After announcing New Generation as the preferred buyer, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) revealed that the company was backed by China Unicom, a claim that was quickly denied by the Chinese company, which insisted that its involvement only extended to an interest in offering technical and managerial support.