NATCOM Development and Investment Limited, which are the new owners of Nigerian Telecommunication Limited (NITEL) with its sister company, Mobile Telecommunication Limited (Mtel), has reportedly spent about $1 billion to revive and beset the national carrier (NITEL).
The Chairman of NATCOM, Mr Olatunde Ayeni, in a presentation to the House of Representatives, Abuja, said that the funds and other efforts would see the company engage 4,000 employees by March as it sets to roll out its mobile lines and 4G/LTE services for broadband users. Ayeni told House of Representatives Joint Committees on Communication and Privatization that his company would begin a phased rollout from Abuja, Lagos, and Port Harcourt before expanding to other parts of the country.
NATCOM became the proffer bidder for NITEL and it’s mobile communication arm, MTEL, in 2014 after the National Council on Privatization approved the sale in the value of about $252 million.
The House of Representatives had queried the sale of NITEL/Mtel in the latest deal, which came after many previous failed attempts to sell the struggling company. They had argued that NITEL, with its huge assets, was worth more than the price it was sold and ordered an investigation into the transaction.
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Mr. Olatunde disclosed that the initial financial bid, which was $221 million, was later increased to $252.251 million when juxtaposed with the liquidator’s reserved price of $256 million.
He stated that NATCOM acquired assets and licences of NITEL and MTEL, percentage interest held in South-Atlantic 3 (SAT-3) consortium, as well as identifiable assets capable of generating viable business units. The company’s full submission was duly made to NITEL/MTEL’s liquidator and Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises on November 7, 2014. NATCOM’s submission was accompanied by a bid bond to the tune of $10 million as stipulated in the liquidator’s RFP.
He also disclosed that $10 million had been spent on SAT-3 system, quarterly dues to the joint venture, system expansion and upgrade since the acquisition, adding that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had assigned another set of microwave frequency ranges to NATCOM upon request for N176.8 million, computed on the basis of 800 base stations network in the first instance.
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Olatunde further said that NATCOM was requested to pay an additional N6.6 billion to bridge the shortfall of the value of the naira to the dollar from N168 to N197 after the payment of the first installment of 30 per cent of the bid price within 14 days of approval by the National Council on Privatization (NCP) and the balance within 90 days.