Skye Bank Chairman, Sahara Energy Owner, Others, Buy NITEL, Mtel

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A consortium run by Skye Bank’s chairman, Olatunde Ayeni, the founder of Sahara Energy, Tonye Cole, and two other companies, have received the nod from the Nigerian government to take over the country’s moribund, but potentially lucrative telecom carriers, NITEL and MTEL, once they pay $242.3 million (about N42.4 billion).

The investment vehicle, NATCOM Telecommunications, on Wednesday emerged the sole bidder for the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, NITEL, and its mobile subsidiary, the Mobile Telecommunications, Mtel.

NATCOM has as members NATSPACE Telecommunication Investment Limited, PCCW Global Limited, Prime Union Investment Limited, Olutoyi Estate Development & Services Limited, Legal Resources Alliance & Co., Sahara Energy Resources Limited, and LM Ericsson Nigeria Limited.

According to Premiumtines, Mr. Ayeni, profiled as a businessman and lawyer on Skye Bank’s website, owns three.

He is the founder and operator of Prime Union Investment Limited, Olutoyi Estate Development & Services Limited, and Legal Resources Alliance & Co. There are suggestions that he has link with NATSPACE but PREMIUM TIMES is unable to independently verify that as at the time of publishing this report.

Mr. Ayeni is leading NATCOM in its acquisition of NITEL/MTEL less than two months after he similarly led Skye Bank to buy Mainstreet Bank from the Assets Management Company of Nigeria, for N120 billion.

In 2013, Mr. Ayeni was the chief promoter of Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Company Limited, a group that eventually bought the Ibadan and Yola electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs.

Mr. Cole is the owner of Sahara Energy, while LM Ericsson is a subsidiary of Swedish group, Ericsson.

NATCOM, which merges the seven firms, appears to a new corporate entity created solely for the purchase of NITEL/MTEL. Very little is known about the consortium.

If the group pays the agreed N42.4 billion to the government, it would be a successful sale that comes after four failed attempts by the Nigerian government to dispose of NITEL.

It however remains unclear whether the N42.4 billion offered by the consortium represents the real value of the telecommunication carriers.

NATCOM emerged winner after NETTAG Consortium, another little known group, was disqualified for failing to attach a $10million bid bond to its bid submission as stipulated in the Request for Proposals (RFP) to prospective bidders.

The RFP requires that 30 percent of the bid price be paid within 15 days of notification to the bid winner, while the balance would be paid within 90 days.

The bid would still have to be subjected to the approval of the National Council on Privatisation, a requirement that appears more of a formality as Wednesday’s bid process was organized by the Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE, and supervised by the NCP.

At the commencement of the exercise, NATCOM made an initial offer of $221million for NITEL and MTEL.

But the NCP technical committee chairman, Atedo Peterside, who was represented by his deputy, Haruna Sambo, rejected the offer.

The company reviewed its offer to $252.251million, which was immediately declared acceptable.

“I am happy to announce that the resized bid has met the reserve price,” the chairman, Mr. Sambo announced.

According to Mr. Sambo, following the disqualification of NETTAG Consortium, only NATCOM Consortium’s financial bid was considered qualified.

He said apart from submitting a valid bid bond, NATCOM’s technical bid proposal scored an average of 92 per cent, which was considered above the minimum pass mark of 75 percent.

Nigeria started the process of privatising the national telecom groups in 2000 as part of the government’s reform of the telecommunications sector.

However, four attempts and a management contract aimed at repositioning the firms ended without success.

courtesy: premiumtimes

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