By Prince Osuagwu
New Generations Telecom, Preferred bidder of Nitel, has said that it was ready to pay for NITEL anytime it was asked to do so, expressing confidence that its financial muscles can not fail. The consortium also said that it was undaunted by the delay and controversy which trailed its $2.5b bid for Nitel because it evaluated and knew the value of what it was buying.
This is coming at the heels of approval by the Federal government, pennultimate Tuesday, that New Generation Telecoms Consortium be given letter of offer as pure winners of Nitel bid, if it makes $750m pre condition payment to getting the letter.The company is also expected to complete payment of $1.75 million balance within sixty days.
It would be recalled that New Generation Consortium had emerged the preferred bidder with an offer price of $2.5 billion during the opening of financial bids for the privatisation of NITEL and MTEL, on February 16, 2010 in Abuja. The reserve bidder is Omen International with an offer price of $956,996,091.
Speaking with Vanguard Hi-Tech, 1st Vice President of Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria, ATCON, Engr. Gerry Ekesiani, who also is an official of GiCell, local partners to the consortium, said that despite the delay, his consortium was ready to carry out the obligations that saw it win the NITEL sale.
According to him, “not minding the unavoidable delays, I can confirm that New Generation Telecom Limited has the capacity to fulfil all obligations in connection with our bid and subsequent winning of Nitel”.
President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday, approved that the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) conclude the privatisation of Nigerian Telecommunications Ltd (NITEL) and its mobile arm, M_TEL and that staff of the two organisations be paid their entitlements.
The President also approved that New Generation Telecommunications Consortium, to pay a bid security of $750 million as a pre_condition for the issuance of an offer letter in its bid to acquire NITEL and MTEL. In accordance with the provisions of the Requests for Proposal (RFP), the bid security sum is to be paid within ten calendar days from the date of issue of a demand letter from the BPE. The balance of the bid amount of $1, 750 million should be paid within sixty days from the date of the issue of an offer letter.
The National Council on Privatisation (NCP) had at its meeting of March 12, 2010 set up an eight-member ad-hoc committee under the chairmanship of the Attorney-General of the Federation to review the NITEL/ MTEL sale transaction.
The Committee found out that the transaction complied strictly with due process as outlined in the BPE’s Procedures Manual and that necessary approvals were obtained through the Technical Committee (TC) and the NCP at every stage of the transaction.
President Jonathan also approved that staff entitlements and outstanding salaries of all employees of NITEL/MTEL be paid.
The President’s decision was based on the recommendation of the Presidential Task Force on NITEL/M_TEL Labour Restructuring Taskforce which was tasked to address the issue of outstanding salaries and allowances owed the workers. The Committee which was chaired by the Minister of Labour was re_activated at the NCP’s meeting of June 11, 2010.
Meanwhile, the Debt Management Office has been authorised to issue a bond while the Federal Ministry of Finance has been directed to raise the amounts immediately required to resolve the matter of staff liabilities. The bonds will be subsequently redeemed from the proceeds of the sale of the twin corporate units.