Brymedia Consortium, one of the initial bidders for state-run incumbent telco Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL), is looking to acquire the ailing operator, should the preferred buyer fail to make the initial payment, local newspaper Daily Independent reports, citing sources close to the consortium. Brymedia came third during the bidding process for NITEL in February 2010, after offering USD551 million for a 75% stake in NITEL (excluding its CDMA network) and its mobile arm M-Tel. The report follows the failure of NITEL’s preferred bidder, New Generation Telecommunications, to meet its extended deadline for payment of a USD750 million bid security on 23 December 2010.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, President Goodluck Jonathon finally approved New Generation’s bid of USD2.5 billion in October 2010, after an investigation into the bidding process led to an eight-month delay. New Generation – which comprises Minerva Group of Dubai, Nigeria’s GiCell Wireless and technical partner China Unicom – was asked to pay a bid security of USD750 million within ten days from 25 October and was given 60 days to pay the remaining USD1.75 billion. On 5 November the bid security deadline was extended by 20 working days and subsequently to 23 December 2010, after the consortium failed to come up with the funds in time. However, Usman Gumi, GiCell’s managing director, said that New Generation was able to secure financial documentation from a foreign investor – which he said showed evidence of imminent payment of the funds following processing by the banks – and submit it to the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) on 23 December. The BPE is due to meet to discuss the fate of NITEL shortly.