The Lagos State Government is acquiring a Lagos-sited property estimated at N2.5 billion belonging to NITEL and its mobile subsdiary, MTEL, under “a harmless takeover” scheme, the nation’s privatisation agency says.
The Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), the pioneer national carrier of the country, and its mobile phone business unit, MTel, was sold to NatCom Development & Investment Limited (now trading as ntel) in December 2014, when the Nigerian group emerged winner of the bid for the telecoms company.
The National Council on Privatisation (NCP) approved the sale of the NITEL/MTEL Property located at 3-5, Moloney street, Tafawa Balewa Square, Onikan, Lagos, Uzoma Chidi Ibeh, Public Communications Head at the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) says in a statement.
The property, BPE says, was one of those listed for sale by the Liquidator of NITEL/MTEL non-Core assets at the cost of N2.5 billion only.
“Meanwhile, the property is presently encumbered by the activities of illegal occupants and the Lagos State Government (LASG) has promised a harmless takeover of the property,” according to BPE.
The Council chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), granted the approval at its second meeting for 2023 held on Tuesday, February 21, 2023, the privatisation agency says.
“It would be recalled that NITEL was incorporated in 1984 but formally commenced operations in 1985 and was jointly owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) with 93.3% share and First Bank of Nigeria Plc (FBN) with 6.7%. However, MTEL was established in 1996 out of NITEL to provide cellular services. It started a General System for Mobile communication (GSM) in March 2003 after NITEL transferred its GSM licence it acquired when the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) first auctioned Digital Mobile Licences in February 2001,” according to the statement.
TheNCP, according to BPE, “at its meeting of February 27, 2012, approved the privatisation of Nigerian Telecommunications Plc (NITEL) and Nigerian Mobile Telecommunication (MTEL) through “guided liquidation”.”
The strategy, BPE says “was adopted by the Council after due consideration of other options and considering the previous failed attempts to privatise NITEL and MTEL through Strategic Core Investor Sale and Negotiated Sale strategies and the huge liabilities to creditors to the tune of over N300 billion.”
According to the agency, “under the guided liquidation strategy, all the core assets and business undertakings of NITEL and MTEL were to be sold as a single or multiple lots to a qualified bidder by the Liquidator under the general guidance of the National Council on Privatisation.”
NatCom: How NITEL/MTEL became ntel
Meanwhile, the current owners of NITEL, now trading as ntel, say that, “the beginning of the ntel story can be traced to the acquisition of core telecoms assets previously owned by Nigeria’s national fixed and mobile operators- NiTel/MTel- by NatCom Development & Investment Ltd. (NatCom) in a liquidation process supervised and approved by Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises and a court-appointed liquidator.”
This liquidation process, NatCom says, was concluded in May, 2015 with NiTel/MTel core assets wholly transferred to NatCom including the operating licences for National carrier, international gateway and mobile services.
NatCom also got spectrum assets for cellular on 900/1800/1900 MHz and shared microwave, and international connectivity stakes that gave the new owners of the telecoms pioneer a share of the SAT-3/WASC/SAFE submarine cable system, and full ownership of the Lagos Cable Landing Station for the undersea optical fibre link.
Other assets include local connectivity that includes metro-fibre ducts and intercity fibre rights of way; and infrastructure assets like tower sites, telephone exchanges and satellite earth stations.