Nigeria seeks buyer for 75% stake in Nitel

nitelNigeria invited bids for a 75 percent stake in Nigerian Telecommunications Ltd., the state- owned fixed-line operator known as Nitel, or any of its units, after a previous attempt to sell the company failed.

The sale includes Nitel’s mobile-phone division MTEL and SAT-3, the underwater fiber-optic cable that links Africa with Europe and the rest of the world, the Abuja-based Bureau of Public Enterprises, said in an advertisement today in the ThisDay newspaper. Bids close Oct. 2.

Nigeria’s government had sold a 51 percent stake in Nitel to Transnational Corp., a Lagos-based investment company, in 2006 for $500 million. The bureau, which sells government assets to private investors and is known as BPE, on June 1 voided the sale after TransCorp failed to comply with sale conditions.

The bureau in March invited investors to express their interest in taking a majority stake in Nitel and gave them until May 30 to submit bids. The deadline was extended after the bureau decided to break the company into parts, the bureau said June 19.

Since the failed sale of Nitel, the company’s 500,000 fixed lines in service have dropped to 45,000, its workforce has declined to 2,000 from 12,000 and the company has $500 million of debt, according to the Web site of TeleGeography, a Washington-based research company.

The company has lost market share to rivals including MTN Nigeria Ltd., a unit of MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s biggest mobile- phone company.

Source: Bloomberg

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