Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has revoked the sale of state-run incumbent telco Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL) to preferred buyer New Generation Telecommunications, after the consortium repeatedly failed to meet the payment deadlines. According to a report by local newspaper This Day, which cites the BPE’s director-general Bola Onagoruwa, NITEL’s reserve bidder Omen International will be invited to acquire the troubled former telecommunications monopoly and its mobile unit M-Tel, following approval from the National Council of Privatisation (NCP). British Virgin Islands-registered Omen, which includes China Unicom and Fiber Home Technologies Limited, submitted a bid of USD956.9 million for a 75% stake in NITEL and M-Tel during the latest attempt to privatise the company, held in February 2010. The federal 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.
CommsUpdate reported that President Goodluck Jonathon 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. The New Generation consortium – 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, New Generation failed to meet its extended payment deadline, forcing the BPE to meet in January 2011 to discuss the fate of NITEL.