Ayeni, Skye Bank chairman, Tonye Cole, others acquire NITEL for N42.4bn

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An investment vehicle, NATCOM Telecommunications, run by Olatunde Ayeni, chairman, Board of a Directors of Skye Bank Plc, Tonye Cole, founder of Sahara Energy and two other companies, has won the bid for the moribund First a National Carrier, NITEL and MTel.

NATCOM Telecomms on Wednesday emerged the sole bidder for the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, NITEL, and its mobile subsidiary, the Mobile Telecommunications, Mtel for $242.3m(N42.4 billion).

NATCOM has as members NATSPACE Telecommunication Investment Limited, PCCW Global Limited, Prime Union Investment Limited, Olutoyi Estate Development & Services Limited, Legal Resources Alliance & Co., Sahara Energy Resources Limited, and LM Ericsson Nigeria Limited.

Ayeni is leading NATCOM in its acquisition of NITEL/MTEL less than two months after he similarly led Skye Bank to buy Mainstreet Bank from the Assets Management Company of Nigeria, for N120 billion.

In 2013, Ayeni was the chief promoter of Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Company Limited, a group that eventually bought the Ibadan and Yola electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs.

Cole is the owner of Sahara Energy, while LM Ericsson is a subsidiary of Swedish group, Ericsson.

If the group pays the agreed N42.4 billion to the government, it would be a successful sale that comes after four failed attempts by the government through the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, to dispose of NITEL.

NATCOM emerged winner after NETTAG Consortium, another little known group, was disqualified for failing to attach a $10million bid bond to its bid submission as stipulated in the Request for Proposals (RFP) to prospective bidders.

The RFP requires that 30 percent of the bid price be paid within 15 days of notification to the bid winner, while the balance would be paid within 90 days.

At the commencement of the exercise, NATCOM made an initial offer of $221million for NITEL and MTEL, but the NCP technical committee chairman, Atedo Peterside, who was represented by his deputy, Haruna Sambo, rejected the offer.

The company reviewed its offer to $252.251 million, which was immediately declared acceptable.

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