CHINESE FIRMS TO ACQUIRE INTERCELLULAR, CELLCOM

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Two Chinese firms- Huawei Technologies and ZTE have indicated interest in acquiring major stakes in Intercellular Nigeria Limited and Cellcom Limited, Minister of Communications, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, has said.

Intercellular and Cellcom are among the key operators in the country's private telecoms sector otherwise known as PTOs using CDMA technology. Although the minister didn't provide details of the deals, but he confirmed yesterday during the Annual Ministerial Press Briefing by the ministry saying "Huawei Technologies is making moves to acquire interest in Intercellular, while ZTE is making similar moves to acquire interest in Cellcom". Both Intercellular and Cellcom are CDMA2000 1X Service providers also offers voice calls, local and international, Free voice mail, Internet access, Free value added services.

Huawei Technologies and ZTE have made efforts to acquire stakes in the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), in the previous privatisation efforts by the Bur eau of Public Enterprises (BPE). Meanwhile, Nigeria now has a total of 22,912,917 telephone lines as at March 2006, after a total investment of $9billion (N1.26 trillion), has been ploughed into the Nigerian telecoms sector, the Minister added.

"I am today pleased to inform you that the total number of telephone lines in Nigeria is 22,912,917", said Adebayo He said that the figure is made up of 1,395,786 fixed phone lines and the rest 21,517,131 lines belong to mobile phones. "Nigerian mobile market is one of the fastest growing in the world", he said, "the pyramid research findings indicate that Nigeria is home to four of every ten mobile phones in Africa today", he said, adding that, "and this will grow to one out of every four in the year 2010", he enthused.

Adebayo said that the feat was achieved after N1.26 trillion naira ($9 billion) had been injected into the sector between 2002 and 2006. "The $100 million loan to MTN from the International Finance Corp (IFC) in 2003 for example", he noted, "is the largest investment of the World Bank affiliate in Sub-Saharan Africa," he said.

According to the figures he provided, in the year 2002, $2.2 billion was brought into the telecom sector which swelled to $4 billion by 2003. In 2004, telephone companies in Nigeria raised their investment to $6.08 and climbed to $8 billion in 2005. The total investment today, according to him, stands at $9 billion.

"We have continued to create appropriate atmosphere for investors who are on a daily basis making enquiries about the Nigerian market", he said adding that "the Ministry has noted that no investor has come out to regret entering the Nigerian market and we intend to keep it so", he promised.

"Indeed the ink is still fresh from signatures to $1.5 billion buy of CELTEC Company by V-Mobille and also Reltel- a private telephone operator", he noted. The minister then took time to praise the achievements of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), saying that 85% of mails posted from state to state were delivered within three days. "In the Quality of Mail Service Test (QMST), conducted between August 2005 and April 2006", said Adebayo, "it was discovered that 84.8% of all intra-states letters posted achieved three days transmission time to their final destination", he added.

He then told the gathering that Nigeria is pursuing the Universal Postal Union (UPU), directive stipulating that there should be at least one post office for every 600 inhabitants. "In other to achieve this target", he said, "NIPOST introduced the Containerised Post Office (CPO) numbering 16 to Abia, Kwara, Lagos and Osun States", he said.

On Nigerian Mobile Telecommunication Limited (M-TEL), the Minister had this to say: "In the face of dwindling revenue, management developed a prudent and disciplined mode of running the organisation. "In this regards, operating cost came down from N10.5 billion naira to N2.9 billion. M-TEL recorded a significant growth strength reflected by the increase in revenue of N4.6 billion from 2005 and or about 55% increase over the 2004 figure of N0.71 billion. "The company was also able to increase its fixed asset base from N38 billion to N49 billion, an increase of N11 billion"

The Daily Trust