| LAGOS, June 9
LAGOS, June 9 Nigeria is seeking buyers for the
assets of distressed state-owned former telecom monopoly Nitel,
the state-appointed liquidator said on Monday.
Nigeria opted to wind up Nitel in March after almost a
decade of struggling to sell it, due to the shambolic state of
its fixed lines and high levels of debt, despite the country
having one of the world's fastest-growing telecoms markets.
The liquidator, appointed by the government's National
Council of Privatisation, said in an advert it wanted bidders
with five years of telecom experience and a net worth of at
least $200 million.
It said bids must be submitted by 1600 GMT on June 30,
adding that the assets would be handed over to the preferred
bidder in December.
The privatisation body has said it opted for a sale method
it called "guided liquidation" because it wanted to protect the
government from future claims and liabilities, as proceeds of
the sale may be less than the value of the debt.
Nitel owes creditors - mostly suppliers - around 400 billion
naira ($2.5 billion), with creditors taking a loss if the
proceeds from the sale are not enough to repay all the debt.
In 2010 a consortium including Dubai's Minerva and China's
second-biggest carrier China Unicom bid $2.5 billion
for Nitel but could not raise the cash for the deal.
A separate consortium made a $959 million bid the same year
but this failed when the bidder missed several deadlines.
Nitel's fixed-line subscribers have fallen to fewer than
100,000 from five times that number in 2001 and subscribers to
its MTEL mobile unit have dropped to a few thousand from over 1
Nigeria has over 100 million mobile subscribers.
($1 = 162.55 naira)
(Editing by David Dolan and David Holmes)