Skye Bank chairman, Ayeni, Sahara Energy owner, Tonye Cole, others, buy NITEL, Mtel

NITEL Headquarters.... Photo Credit: www.theparley.net
NITEL Headquarters.... Photo Credit: www.theparley.net

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.

Of the seven firms, Mr. Ayeni, profiled as a businessman and lawyer on Skye Bank’s website, owns three, PREMIUM TIMES can confirm.

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.

In 2001, the government tried to sell 51 per cent equity to Investors International London Limited (IILL) as the strategic core investor.

There was also the failed management contract by Pentascope in 2005, the aborted Orascom Telecoms bid in 2005, and the strategic core investor sale through negotiated sale strategy to Transcorp that was cancelled in 2009.

The last effort was the strategic core investor sale in 2011, where New Generation Communications Limited and Omen International emerged preferred and reserved bidders respectively.

Following the last failed attempt, Mr. Sambo said the guided liquidation strategy approved by the NCP was adopted.

BPE director general, Benjamin Dikki, said the NCP was faced with numerous challenges, including outstanding unpaid terminal benefits of ex-staff of NITEL/Mtel, arrears of salaries of retained staff and outsourced security as well as accumulated unpaid license and other fees to the National Communications Commission (NCC).

The Minister of Communications Technology, Omobola Johnson, said the privatization of the government-owned telecoms companies was the last segment in the reform process in the country’s telecommunication sector, which commenced since 2000.

She said the Federal Government would continue to fine tune policies to provide enabling environment for the growth and development of a private sector-driven telecommunications industry.

Mrs. Johnson said the liberalisation of the sector in the last 13 years attracted new investments valued at over $32billion entirely from the private sector, resulting in over 130 million subscribers compared to just 750,000 previously.

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  • Naija man

    How come NITEL and MTEL (GSM arm of NITEL) are both valued at $242.3million when MTN and Airtel (then Econet) paid $285million for just GSM licenses, some years later Etisalat (EMTS) paid $400million for another GSM license??? Clearly, some people are doling out our national assets and collective patrimony for mere peanuts.

    • Segun Surulere

      Its a junk sale …hence the price

      • Abiola Ade

        junk sale segun!!, SAT3 is there functioning fine, MTEL License is GSM, NITEL buildings Nationawide, indeed our leaders are no problems at all, we are!

    • Fulani Nomad

      Don’t worry! Many will run into exile when the cleaning begins in 2015.

  • favourtalk

    That’s a waste to the nigeria government, they’r just doing it to favour some people or they themselves did the selling based on corruption. It’s part of the nigeria system and that’s the basic reason we wants a change for this country before they finish the nation. They are all about themselves and nothing can change their wicked ways. They will surely fail come 2015 before they finish the national wealth

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  • Mamapikin

    Armed robbery. These guys ought to be tied up and shot.

  • Koko

    Guys don’t be jealous. Be happy for these young Nigerians. The elders have failed the nation lets trust these youths. These young men who have done well for themselves and have proven their capabilities in the way they run their present companies. Kudos. Let’s see how they turn things around. Instead of these assets wasting away why can’t we do something meaningful with it. Right step in the right direction.

  • Idris Otegi

    Wallahi you guys have to do something. they are selling Nigeria’s assets like peanuts. Very soon they will be as powerful as the Russian mafia, the oligarchs of Nigeria, southerners holding the rest of us hostage! Umaru reversed privatization, hell even Abacha halted it, when Gowon wanted nationalisation, he didnt sell it to the army brass, he took it to the stock market and enriched these southern shrimps…….this is what happens when a morally bankrupt pack are allowed to take charge! wakeup!

    • G4

      Can you not see the contradiction in your juvenile statement.

    • emmanuel

      Idris sorry o. They left Nitel since, why your people nor come buy am?

      Foolanis? You want everything to remain with the government so that your half educated people can get high flying jobs, which they cannot compete for in the private sector.

      Your people bought Unity Bank, they could not revamp it. We will see what will become of Heritage bank very soon.

  • Me

    NITEL and MTEL – N42.4 billion
    Mainstreet Bank – N120 billion

    • Kingsley

      that makes N162.4bn just from one person! some of us are very rich oooo!

      • sirbrwnjr

        Don’t be fooled. He is fronting for Jonathan. There is God Ho!

        • MrFesh+Ifebuche+Paschal

          poverty dey your brain u can’t negotiate issues.

          • sirbrwnjr

            What I achieve so far in life you can only dream.

          • MrFesh+Ifebuche+Paschal

            Lmao

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  • Rommel

    This is an investment Nigeria claims it invested $15Bn into,each day we keep hearing about Russian Oligarchs and no one remembers Nigeria,the Nigerian oligarchs are still very much active buying up everything in the country in the name of privatization,there is God oh!

    • sirbrwnjr

      Don’t be fooled. He is fronting for Jonathan. There is God Ho! He will judge us accordingly.

    • vaye

      Exactly the thought that came to my mind.

  • Garden-City Boy

    So what???????

  • Adoki Achine

    Very incompetent reporting by PREMIUM TIMES. There was one successful privatisation of Nitel, that was in 2006/2007. Obasanjo sold it for $750 million and the money was fully paid. Then Nigerians made so much noise and Yar’dua reversed it and refunded the money (with interest) when he became president. Now Nitel is being sold for just 30% of that amount. Why are you people afraid of saying this?

  • Bidemi Lukman

    Shortly before Yar’Adua died, NITEL/MTEL was retrieved from Trancorp for a re-sale. Then, New Generations
    Telecommunications Consortium offered of $2.5 billion, while the
    reserved bidder was Omen International Limited with price offer of
    $956.998 million. When GEJ took over, he refused to allow the highest bidder to pay giving series of excuses to frustrate the higest bidder. It was reported in the dalies then that GEJ was interested in selling NITEL for his people. I expect premium times to give us amount offered by New Generation Communications Limited and Omen International in their report. It is very ridiculous that same asset that woth $2.5bn in 2011 is sold for $242.3m in 2014. GEJ is truly the best President Nigeria ever had since independence but which Nigeria should never dream ofhaving again and which I strongly pray to God not to ever have again in the history of this Nation beyond expiration of his tenure in 2015. This is when I expect our so called men of God to start praying for this Nation to have the best leader come 2015, rather one Bosun Emmanuel of RCCG is campaigning for GEJ to come again adjudging GEJ and Abacha as the best president Nigeria ever had.

    • Adoki Achine

      Curiously, the people who were said to have offered $2.5 billion came and said they never bidded for Nitel. What I suspected was that the Yar’dua people were trying to use the propaganda of $2.5 billion to justify why they revoked the previous sale of $750 billion. Unfortunately for them, it backfired and unfortunately for Nigeria, eveybody kept quiet and pretended as if nothing happened; because Nigerians wanted to continue to lie to themselves about the Obj transaction, just like Premium Times is doing now – by refusing to talk about the $750 million.