Govt to liquidate NITEL, MTEL as no one wants to buy them

Channels Television  
Updated March 2, 2012

Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), the country’s state-owned fixed-line telecoms provider, and its mobile arm M-TEL are to go into liquidation after the companies amassed huge debts, Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises said Thursday.

Chukwuma Nwokoh, spokesman for the BPE, which is in charge of the privatization of state-owned companies, said in a statement that the council has approved “guided liquidation” for NITEL and M-TEL “in view of the huge liabilities of both companies.”

The government has been trying to sell both companies since 2006. In 2009, their operations were taken over by a government-appointed technical committee, which was mandated to privatize the firms.

The committee, Mr Nwokoh said, recommended the guided liquidation of both companies and that “there was no viable financial alternative presented by the management of NITEL and M-TEL.”

The Nigerian government in June 2009 blocked the sale of NITEL and M-TEL to Transnational Corp. of Nigeria PLC, alleging that Transcorp failed to adhere to the terms of the sale.

In 2006, Transcorp acquired 51% of NITEL and M-TEL, with the Nigerian government holding the remaining 49%. But Transcorp was unable to properly fund the companies’ operations, the government said.

The BPE spokesman didn’t provide further details on the process.