Bolanle Onagoruwa

Last chance for Omen to pay NITEL bid security

The reserve bidder of Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL), Omen International, has told the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) that it has submitted the bid security for the ailing state-run telco, Reuters reports. Bolanle Onagoruwa, director general of the BPE, said Omen International told the agency last Friday that it had made the initial payment of USD105 million, but that the funds had yet to turn up in the BPE’s account. ‘As of Friday they brought a letter to my office saying they had transferred the money and we should expect it in our accounts by Wednesday [today],’ Onagoruwa told press at an industry conference in Abuja. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, the Omen consortium, which includes China Unicom and Fiber Home Technologies Limited, was invited to re-register its interest in buying NITEL in March 2011, after preferred buyer New Generation Telecommunications repeatedly failed to meet the payment deadlines for its bid of USD2.5 billion. Omen offered USD956.9 million during the latest attempt to privatise the company, held in February 2010. Under an agreement between Omen and the federal government, the British Virgin Islands-based consortium had to submit a bid bond of USD105 million for a 75% stake in NITEL and its mobile arm M-Tel within two weeks of the reelection of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Should Omen fail to pay, the BPE would consider other options for NITEL, including setting a minimum price and offering it to the remaining bidders, as well as liquidating the struggling company, or restarting the whole bidding process again. The government began seeking a buyer for a minimum 75% of NITEL and 100% of M-Tel in July 2009 after previous majority shareholder Transcorp divested its stake earlier in the year.

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