Sunday, April 26, 2009

Nigeria: accounts are being prepared for the prospectus for NITEL, Nigeria's fixed incumbent operator

[The Punch] Privatisation advisers to the Federal Government on the resale of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, BNP Paribas, is currently overseeing the preparation of the accounts of the telecom company ahead of the closing of Expression of Interests by prospective core investors.

Head of Public Communications at the Bureau of Public Enterprises, Mr. Chigbo Anichebe, confirmed this in a telephone interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Friday.

The audited account is considered strategic to carrying out the transaction. The lack of audited account for three years had been a major challenge since the Federal Government and Transcorp Plc decided on the resale of NITEL.

The National Council on Privatisation, chaired by Vice- President Goodluck Jonathan, recently established an advisory committee, which it charged with the responsibility of working out modalities for resolving knotty issues in the process of reselling the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited to a new core investor.

As part of its assignment, the advisory committee had also been directed by the NCP to work with 51 per cent equity holders, Transnational Corporation Plc, to deploy more human resources in the accounts department of NITEL to ensure a speedy completion of NITEL/M-Tel audited accounts in time for the transaction.

BPE had recently advertised for prospective investors in the First National Operator to send in their Expressions of Interest to the privatisation agency.

The exercise ends on May 5. Anichebe said it was when the EO1 deadline ends that the number of applications would be determined. He also disclosed that the number of applicants would also help to determine a new timetable for the transaction.

To be pre-qualified, a prospective investor must be a reputable telecommunications operator with track record in the telecommunications sector. He should also possess verifiable evidence of installing at least two million fixed or GSM lines.

The prospective core investor must have a proven track record of expanding a telecommunications’ network of fixed or mobile lines as well as a minimum net worth of at least $500m.

Where the prospective investor is a consortium, the operator must own at least 51 per cent equity in the bidding vehicle.

The Federal Government had, in 2006, sold 51 per cent stake in NITEL to Transcorp and retained 49 per cent.

The shareholders mutually consented to restructure the current shareholding and admit a core investor, who would buy a 51 per cent stake in the company. The 51 per cent is being contributed by both the government and Transcorp.

Sale of NITEL: BNP Paribas prepares accounts ahead of EOI closing

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