MTNL in fray to acquire 75 per cent in Nigerian Telecom

State-run telecom service provider Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd has put in an expression of interest (EoI) to acquire majority stake in Nigerian Telecommunications Ltd or Nitel.

MTNL will compete with 13 initial bidders already in the fray for the African company, including South Africa's MTN, UAE's Etisalat and Telefonica. The deadline for submitting financial bids expires on 2 October.

MTNL has put in an EoI for acquiring the 75 per cent stake Nitel plans to offload. It is also planning to appoint a consultant to advise it on the acquisition, reports quoted its director-finance Anita Soni as saying.

"We will appoint a consultant soon to do the due diligence, we expect the data room of the company (Nitel) to be opened immediately," the report quoted Soni as saying.
The consultant, she said, would evaluate the rationale of putting in financial bids for Nitel, which operates both fixed-line and mobile phone services, the reports said.

Nigeria's Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has set up an evaluation committee to assess the bids submitted by the 13 companies.

"The consortia that are pre-qualified for the next stage are expected to pay a non-refundable fee of $25,000 for bidding documents and execute the confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement," the Bureau said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Spice Group and British Virgin Mobile have bid for MTNL's franchise deals to offer 3G services in Mumbai and Delhi, the report said.

"Virgin Mobile and Spice Group have bid for our 3G franchise deal. We will finalise the bidder(s) in a month," the report quoted MTNL director-technical Kuldip Singh as saying.
Spice Group had sold off its mobile services business to Idea Cellular while Virgin Mobile already has a franchise agreement with Tata Teleservices.