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Saturday, 12 March 2016

House of Reps okays sale of NITEL/MTEL to NATCOM

The House of Representatives yesterday approved the sale of Nigerian Telecommunications Ltd (NITEL) and its mobile arm, MTEL, to the NATCOM Consortium.

The approval was given after the House adopted the report of its Committees on Telecommunications and Privatization and Commercialization which gave a clean bill of the health to the processes that led to the liquidation and acquisition of NITEL and MTEL.
The committees, which were mandated by the plenary to investigate the transactions some months ago, submitted its findings yesterday after several public hearings.
It will be recalled that after four unsuccessful attempts between 2001 and 2011, the National Council on Privatization, in February 2012, directed the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, to privatize the companies through a guided liquidation process.
The NATCOM Consortium was one of the 17 companies that submitted Expressions of Interest, EOI, when the bid was advertised in June 2014.
Following prequalification, two companies, NATCOM and NATTAG Consortium, qualified for the next stage and were invited to submit a technical and financial bid for the companies’ assets. NATCOM accompanied its bid with the mandatory Bid Bond of $10 million as stipulated in the Liquidators Request for Proposal.
NATTAG was said to have failed to comply and was subsequently disqualified from the process . At a public ceremony December 2014, where the financial and technical bids were opened, NATCOM, with a bid of $252.25million, emerged as the winner of the bid.
The House of Representatives stepped in to investigate the transaction after pockets of protest by some people who felt the transaction needed to be looked into.
The committees’ reports, which the House adopted yesterday, said that the BPE enforced due process and transparency in the course of the transaction.
The report, read to the House by Honorable Saheed Akinlade Fijabi, the Chairman of House Committee on Communications, reads in part:
 “That the Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE, in enforcing due process, transparency and adopting procedure in line with international best practice during the entire sale process should  adopt and apply such procedure in future privatization exercise.”
In the report, the House called on the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, to meet “its obligations and commitments to the Bureau of Public Enterprises and core investor (NATCOM) in line with the presidential approval on licences and spectrum for the effective take-off of NITEL and MTEL.”
The report also urged the Federal Government to encourage the NATCOM Consortium by creating an enabling environment that will make NITEL and MTEL to compete with other telecom companies in the country.

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