Nigeria 'choosing between 13 Nitel investors'

3 September 2009

After trying to sell off the state-owned telecoms monopoly Nitel for years, Nigeria has announced that 13 potential investors could be interested - and president Umaru Yar'Adua has given a 60-day deadline for privatisation.

The country's Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) is said to prefer bidders seeking to take over Nitel's fixed line network, MTEL mobile unit and parts of its South Atlantic Terminal underwater cable (SAT-3).

Reuters explained that Nitel's infrastructure has been plagued with problems stemming from poor state management and that they have been trying to sell the network since 2001, when bidders turned down the offer because of the $1.3 billion (£795 million) asking price.

However, since then Africa's most populous nation has become one of the world's fastest growing mobile markets, the agency reported - with seven million people subscribing for the first time in the last quarter of 2008.

Ike Chioke, managing director of Afrinvest, was quoted by Next as saying: "Potential investors cannot overlook the liabilities NITEL is incurring and focus on the assets alone."

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