Sonitel no longer looking for buyer

3 May 2012

Niger’s parliament has voted to nationalise incumbent telecoms operator Sonitel, abandoning a renewed attempt to privatise the company launched last year, Reuters reports. ‘By this vote, the Niger Telecommunications Company [Sonitel] has been nationalised and the capital is wholly owned by the state,’ said Hama Amadou, president of the country’s National Assembly after the vote, adding that the move would allow the government to carry out investments in the company over the next five years. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, the government began looking for a new buyer for Sonitel and its mobile arm SahelCom in August 2011, after a deal to sell a stake in the company to Libya’s LAP Green Network for XAF31 billion (USD61.1 million) was scrapped the previous June. The state said it had decided to cancel the deal as the Libyan government investment vehicle had not been able to meet the terms of the transaction. The LAP Green deal was also heavily criticised by the country’s main telecoms union, which said that the firm’s investment would be no better than Sonitel’s previous owner, Dataport, a joint venture between China’s ZTE and the Libyan Arab African Investment Company which held a 51% stake in the operator. The deal was cancelled by Niger’s government in February 2009, due to poor management and failure to meet the terms of the privatisation.

Niger, Niger Telecoms (formerly Sonitel/SahelCom), SahelCom