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23.10.2007 Business & Finance

Celtel Finally Acquires WESTEL

By Daily Guide

·Set To Compete With GT, MTN, TiGO, Kasapa

FOLLOWING TWO weeks of intensive negotiations, government has finally confirmed the sale of Western Telesytems (WESTEL) to Celtel International, a subsidiary of Kuwaiti Company, Zain (formerly named MTC).

According to a statement from the Ministry of Communication, the Netherlands-based company had been awarded 75 per cent stake in WESTEL after agreeing to the price of $120 million.

Initially, the Netherlands headquartered company was prepared to buy a 66.34 per cent of the company for an amount of $105 million, but sources said after intensive negotiations, both parties agreed on the final sale details.

CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE gathered that Celtel's proposal was hugely welcomed by the Inter-Ministerial Committee that represented government.

The Committee comprised officials from the Office of the President, Ministries of Communication and Finance, the Ghana Investment and Promotion Council (GIPC) as well as the Management of WESTEL.

According to the agreement, a price offer of $120 million, which constitutes 75 per cent of the shareholding, would be reduced to 70 per cent within three years.

At this time, Celtel would have released 5 per cent of its shares in addition to those to be released by government, to be floated on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) for the benefit of the Ghanaian public.

It is anticipated that government would offload 15 per cent of its shares out of its total 25 per cent in the Accra Bourse because of its private sector participation agenda.

It would be recalled that CITY& BUSINESS GUIDE reported about two weeks ago that officials of Celtel, one of the largest telecommunications company in Eastern and Southern Africa which placed second to Kinz Telecom in the earlier bid, was in town with the possible intention of concluding negotiations to secure a strategic stake in WESTEL.

The conclusion of the agreement means that Celtel would be investing millions of dollars in a state-of-the art telecommunications network and associated services.

The company currently provides a telecommunications service to more than 24 million customers in 14 countries across the African continent.

Celtel has also revealed that it looks forward to promoting Ghana as a gateway to West Africa through its One Network, the world's first borderless network.

This network offers Celtel's customers the opportunity to move freely across geographical borders using the same services they would access in their home country.

Customers will also be able to make calls without roaming surcharges and will not have to pay to receive incoming calls and messages.

Celtel's One Network service is currently operational for 160 million people across six nations in East and Central Africa.

By Charles Nixon Yeboah