By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
Following the failure of New Generation Consortium to pay the $2.5 billion bid price for the 75 per cent stake in the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, NITEL, the Bureau of Public of Enterprises, BPE, has now invited the reserved bidder, Omen International, to buy the premier national carrier.
Omen was declared reserved bidder with an offer price of $956 million at financial bid opening in Abuja on February 16, 2010.
The letter inviting Omen to re-validate its bid serves as a prelude to the Federal Government’s invitation to the firm to open negotiations on the transaction.
The privatisation agency explained that in line with Section 3.4.3 of the Request for Proposal (RFP) sent to bidders for the privatisation of the telecommunications outfit, offers by prospective investors were valid for six months after submission date, except the bid proposal was extended.
“Since your bid was submitted February 16th, 2010, it expired August 15th, 2010. We therefore wish to invite you to revalidate your bid bond of 4th April, 2010 if you are still interested in the transaction,” BPE said.
New Generations Consortium emerged winners of the financial bid opening for NITEL, last year with the $2.5 billion bid price but could not immediately obtain the presidential approval due to the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s ailment, then.
Certain interests took advantage of the lull in the presidency to undertake and intense campaign against New Generations Consortium which expectedly impacted negatively on government’s prompt approval even when Dr. Goodluck Jonathan effectively took charge of affairs of government.
It was not until October 18, 2010 before the Jonathan government gave the necessary approval and New Generations Telecommunications Consortium was directed to pay the initial 30 per cent security bid amounting $ 750 million within 10 calendar days.
The consortium could not make the payment within the stipulated period and instead asked for extension of time.
It was given up to December 21, 2010. Still it could not raise the money and thereby lost out in the bid to buy NITEL.
The current efforts to sell NITEL is the fourth in about 10 years, beginning with the botched sale of the company to Investors International London Ltd (IILL), Orascom and the failed Trasncorp purchase of the company.
Transcorp’s transaction had to be revoked by the federal government on June 1, 2009, following the company’s inability to inject the required capital into NITEL and the alleged financial frauds for which three of its top officials were arrested and now facing trial.
The management arrangement with Pentascope under for BPE boss, Mr. Nasir el_Rufai was also a failure as the management contractors ended up worsening NITEL’s trading position than the management contractors met it.