After about four failed attempts, former state-run telco, the Nigerian Telecommunication Limited (Nitel) and its mobile arm, Mobile Telecommunication (Mtel), has been sold to NATCOM Consortium for $252,251,000 (N45,922,264,700.53).

The buyer had earlier offered $221,000,000 for the telco, but it was a far cry from what the National Council on Privatization (NPC) had placed at its reserved price.

Announcing the sale, NPC Chairman, Peterside Atedo, said the firm eventually won the bid after it eventually put $252,251,000 on the table in the second bid.

He said: "I am happy to announce that the resized bid has met the reserve price. We are not the final authority. We will take it to NCP for final approval."

Represented by the NCP's Technical Committee Vice Chairman, Alhaji Haruna Sambo at the event in Abuja yesterday he explained: "Unfortunately, one of the two pre-qualified bidders, NATTAG Consortium, was disqualified for failure to enclose a $10 million bid bond as clearly stipulated in the Request for Proposals (RfP)."

According to him, "The Bank Guarantee or Letter of Credit shall be from a reputable bank acceptable to BPE and the Liquidator and be valid for 120 days from the deadline for submission of proposals. Provision must be made for extension of the term of the bid bond if the validity period is extended."

The privatization, which the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) tagged 'guided liquidation,' the NCP chair said was done "after the review of the chequered history of the privatization transactions of Nitel the NCP at its meeting of February 27, 2012, approved the privatization of Nitel and Mtel through guided liquidation."

Communications Technology Minister, Omobola Johnson said the privatization of government-owned telco is the last segment in the well-planned reform of the nation's telecommunication sector, which commenced since 2000.

She said government will continue to review and fine-tune policies that will continue to provide an enabling environment for the growth and development of private sector driven Nigeria telecommunications industry.

Director-General, BPE, Benjamin Dikki said the NCP faced numerous challenges including outstanding unpaid terminal benefits of ex-workers of Nitel and Mtel, arrears of salaries of the retained workers and outsourced security and huge accumulated unpaid license and other fees to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).