France Telecom says it is building its operations in Africa to compensate for sluggish activity in saturated Western European markets.
The company is currently believed to be the frontrunner to take over Ghana Telecom and says it is confident in securing the state-owned enterprise.
After the initial evaluation of the companies' bids for GT's privatization, sources at the two transaction advisers, Ecobank Development Corporation (EDC) and Societe General revealed to CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE that France Telekom won the bid ahead of Vodacom and Portugal Telecom.
But the Inter-Ministerial Committee comprising officials from the Office of the President, Ministries of Communications and Finance, and the Ghana Investment and Promotion Center (GIPC) were supposed to assess the final documentation before giving France Telecom the go ahead.
The company is believed to have increased its bid above the earlier $600 million since government was asking for more.
Instructively, it has targeted its development strategy on high-growth markets, thus the addition of GT according to the company, will further strengthen its significant presence in Africa especially West Africa.
With Latin America largely carved up between Spain's Telefonica SA and Mexico's America Movil SA and opportunities also drying up in Asia, Africa's rapidly growing population and low rates of mobile-phone penetration offer some of the few remaining avenues for emerging-market growth.
Africa currently accounts for about $4.3 billion or 6 percent of France Telecom's annual revenue. By comparison, Latin America amounted to 35 percent of Telefonica's revenue in this year's first nine months.
France Telecom is one of the world's leading telecommunications operators and serves more than 167 million customers in five continents as of September 30, 2007, of which two thirds are Orange customers.
It is the number three mobile operator and the number one provider of broadband internet services in Europe as well as one of the world leaders in providing telecommunication services to multinational companies.
It operates in both French and English versions and is listed on both Euronext Paris and the New York Stock Exchange.
By Charles Nixon Yeboah