Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

British Telecom has entered into a US$20 billion partnership deal with a Lagos-based wireline telecoms firm, 21st Century Technologies. Within the partnership agreement, 21st Century Technologies will manage the Nigerian part of the connection to BT's $20 billion global 21 CN platform.

David Roome, the Business Development Manager for British Telecoms said, "Part of the programme is that we need to roll out and develop nodes for the network. We are in 120 countries globally and we are looking at reaching 160 countries by the end of 2008 and one of the key countries is Nigeria"

Roome, who described Nigeria as a secure and stable investment destination with market depth and quality human resources, added that the typical customer for the network would be corporates with interest in oil and gas concerns, banks, telecom firms and others with branches and facilities spread across national and internationally borders.

The BT development Manager also disclosed that the Nigerian firm, 21st Century Technologies, was chosen as strategic partner after a rigorous selection process involving several other Nigerian telecommunication firms.

Commenting on the partnership deal, Wale Ajisebutu, the Chief Executive Officer of 21st Century, disclosed that "this partnership with BT will make a strong business statement in Nigeria" reiterating that his company is refocusing to service corporates instead of small businesses and homes. According to Ajisebutu, "We deliver VOIP to corporates. We have fibre-optic cables everywhere and we are still laying them. We can also do archiving for media businesses."

He added that, "It is a global connectivity for the corporates and our relationship creates a synergy. BT has infrastructure all around the world and we have infrastructure in Nigeria - its sort of a handshake."

He further said, "We realise we have to extend our network and train people. We are increasing our points of presence in Lagos from 45 to 80 within the next few weeks. We are extending to Warri, Kano, Ibadan, Port Harcourt and Abuja."

The company had recently emerged as the data services provider of choice powering and providing telephony and data services to the groundbreaking Olokola LNG Project (OK LNG). The OK LNG project, when completed, will lift the country's gas earning from the current N254 - N381bn to N1.2 trillion ($2-3bn to $10-billion) yearly. Also recently, 21st Century injected a whopping $20 million into its operations in its bid to oil its expansion programme, which is aimed at seeing its services move across the country.

The fresh funds was targeted at strengthening the company's current nationwide fibre optic project, in which it is laying fibre optic rings around the Nigeria, with the Lagos phase of the project nearing completion.

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