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28.04.2007 Business & Finance

Ghana Telecom up for grabs

By Ewusie MENSAH
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...after gov't pays off Telekom Malaysia's 30% stake in the telecommunication company

A statement from Telekom Malaysia, majority shareholders in G-COM, a consortium that acquired a 30% stake in Ghana Telecom has confirmed government's acquisition of the shares after paying TM off.

Government reportedly paid about $55 million for the 30% which was bought by TM and its other partners in G-COM for $38 million in 1997. Telekom Malaysia, which held an 85% stake in the G-COM consortium, also had a five-year management contract to manage the company.

The payment of the full settlement fees by government follows several years of litigation and boardroom wrangling which ended in a settlement, which required that the Ghana government pays TM for the 30% stake.

TM, which had its management contract abrogated decided to pull out of GT after months of 'running battles' and sidelining by the 70% shareholder in the running of the business.

The TM statement stated in part that “the settlement sum was fully paid in accordance with the terms of the settlement documents executed by the parties involved... with the completion of the settlement payment and the fulfilment of other applicable conditions, the ownership of the 30% stake in GT would be transferred to the Ghana government.”
Government has already indicated its intension to divest part of its now 100% shares in the national telecommunication company, which also operates the fast improving and strong cellular competitor Onetouch.

With transaction advisers appointed and the groundwork been done for the sale of shares, dailyEXPRESS BUSINESS has gathered that the company's value has skyrocketed, occasioned by the high valuation of its Onetouch network.

Over the years, GT, which was formally a part of the defunct Post & Telecommunication Company, has seen major improvements to its network, but industry watchers and experts have argued that GT is still lagging miles behind because of the inefficiencies of the two management partners- TM and lately Telenor Management Partners which changed to TMP at some point.

The two groups have been blamed for various acts including sourcing for inferior products and services from their home countries, cutting corners to pay themselves huge sums and failing to deploy high-end technologies.

TMP, which came in as Telenor Management Partners to replace TM, were expected to do some good work after government's praise of their capabilities and deriding of the performance of TM. But their final departure from GT has been marked by controversy with company insiders and the public yet to know what exactly occasioned government's decision to abrogate their contract.

Though out of GT, there's still controversy over some transfers the TMP officials made from GT's accounts for services that are “not contained in their contract.”

The amount which runs into millions of cedis, according to company documents, is currently under investigation.

In between the periods that TM & TMP were in charge, Ghanaian managers have been in charge and it is believed that their handling of the company's business cannot be faulted.

The current Acting CEO, Dickson Oduro Nyaning who was made a deputy CEO during the TMP period, was Chairman of a 3-man Interim Management Committee after the Malaysians were kicked out. He the late Kwaku Boateng, Chief Financial Officer and Kwaku Dua Adonteng, then Chief legal Officer and now Managing Director of Ghana Post (where he appears to be finding things tough).

After joining the then P&T in 1974 as an Assistant Engineer, rose through the ranks to become General Manager- International Relations and later Chief Network Officer.

With a few more weeks left to his retirement at the age of sixty (60), Mr. Duro Nyaning is in charge of the team that is working to get the company running before the announcement of the next strategic investor and confirmation of an earlier declaration to sell off some of the company's shares of the local bourse.

Source: Ewusie MENSAH (dailyEXPRESS)
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