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Nigerian Liquidator Formally Invites Bidders for Nitel Assets

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The Nigerian government's official state liquidator has advertised for buyers for the assets of the state owned telco, Nitel.

Attempts to sell the landline telco and its mobile subsidiary have taken place several times over the past few years, but the government finally decided to close down the company earlier this year.

The liquidator has posted a notice seeking bidders with at least five years experience of running a telecoms network.

Nitel has a huge debt, and the sale is not expected to cover those liabilities, which will have to be picked up by suppliers, who are said to be owed around USD2.5 billion in unpaid invoices.

Various attempts to privatise the company or turn around its fortunes have stalled, but despite that there is still political support for yet another attempt to rescue the ailing telecoms operator.

Local company, Transcorp bought a 75% stake in 2006 in Nitel for $750 million during an earlier privatization sale, but the government reclaimed the stake in 2009 following several years of neglect.

Since then there have been three aborted attempts to sell the company, with the last failing in June 2011 when the Omen International Consortium failed to pay a required USD105 million deposit on the sale.

Nitel had less than 100,000 landline users when it was wound-up by the government, and barely a few thousand customers of its mobile network. That compares to a country with over 100 million mobile phone subscribers connected to the private networks.

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Tags: nitel  Nigeria