Celtel will pay $1,005 million for Vmobile, which has more than 5 million subscribers. It takes to 15 the number of African countries where the operator has a presence and is the company’s largest acquisition to date.

Orascom’s $265.5 million bid for Nitel was rejected by the government, which has shortlisted seven firms for the acquisition. They are Celtel – which is presumed now to have withdrawn from the race – South Africa’s Telkom, Dubai-based Investcom, the UK’s BT Group with the local Transcorp, the local Globacom, Korea Telecom and the UAE’s Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat). It is Abuja’s third attempt to privatise the company.