Monday, July 28, 2008

Nigeria - Nitel

Our plan is to transform NITEL into a profit making entity – Iseghohi, GMD, Transcorp

Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Transcorp Plc, Mr. Tom Iseghohi, is a man who likes to talk straight. Even though he took over an organization that was bedeviled by crisis, he said that the task ahead of him, though daunting, is surmountable and he has set out to put things right. Iseghohi said Transcorp did not just get into NITEL because it felt so, but because “we want it to work and we do not want what happened to Nigerian Airways to happen to NITEL.”

According to him, “Nigeria has witnessed a very fast rate of expansion in the telecommunications sector . We are now eager to see such fast rate of growth more in the industry. Mobile phone services account for 99 percent telephone availability in Nigeria today.

We, therefore, want to encourage investment in the sector. We have a near term strategy, recovery strategy to ensure that the company continues to prosper, be stable and more valuable than it is today. We are ready to make NITEL work and reposition it as an efficient world-class telecommunications investor. We will put in financial control, which I have achieved.” He said the position of telecommunications in Nigeria is very bright despite the estimated 60 million subscribers that the market already has.

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer noted that Transcorp is a publicly quoted wholly-owned Nigerian business enterprise with interest not only in telecommunications, but also in agriculture, hospitality, shelter, infrastructure development, oil and gas, saying that this should put paid to insinuations that the conglomerate is owned by any single individual.

"The truth of the matter is that Transcorp is owned by 250,000 Nigerians. There is no individual that owns more than five percent of Transcorp. Because of our key position in the economy, international companies are willing to invest in Nigerian economy today”, he added

The CEO said that Transcorp took a giant stride in December 2005, when it paid $105million to the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) for 51 percent equity in NIRMSCO properties, owners of Hilton Hotel. The hotel would subsequently be re-christened Transcorp Hilton which is one aspect of the company's business. He equally pointed out that Transcorp made yet another big catch on November 14, 2006, when it signed a share sales and purchase agreement with BPE for the sale of NITEL with the sum of $500million.

“If the hotel is not so difficult to run, NITEL and its mobile subsidiary M-Tel will also not be difficult for us to run. We are ready to reposition NITEL as an efficient entity, ready, worthy and attractive for reputable world class telecommunications”, he said.

He noted that the reason people did not want Transcorp to come into NITEL was that it would put in discipline and every money that comes in would strictly be monitored. Iseghohi, who is our chief executive officer of the week also spoke on other issues.

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